Help Button in Assignments
I have often noticed that students don't utilize the email feature in Canvas when they need help. Can a help button be created as an option for each assignment that redirects students to composing an email to their instructor?
What happens fairly frequently is that students click on "Help" in their Global Navigation Bars and end up posting course-specific questions in the main discussion forum of this site.
Perhaps, a better option would be to have a button that says "Contact Instructor," which links up to the Inbox in Canvas.
There is an existing help "button" for assignments (not discussions or quizzes). It's just not a button.
It's called Assignment Comments or Submission Comments.
Students need to be taught that questions specific to an assignment should be posted there (if that's what the instructor wants). Since the comment box is already there, the instructor could add a sentence that says "If you need help with the assignment, leave me a comment in the Add a Comment box for this assignment."
Having a button that says "Contact Instructor" that takes them to the inbox isn't as good, but students may be more likely to see it. Inbox submissions aren't tied to the assignment and students are sometimes bad about letting you know which assignment they have questions about. When the response comes back to the student, they have to remember what assignment it was they were asking for help with. Placing the comments with the assignment help the instructor know what they have told the student as well.
Of course, submission comments are often not found by students -- at least mine. I have an assignment at the beginning of each term that has the students go in and enable immediate notifications for submission comments. That doesn't guarantee that they will read them, though.
I agree with @SusanNiemeyer that students are sometimes confused by the Help button. What goes on that menu is configurable by the local Canvas Admin, but there is a "Ask Your Instructor a Question" option that allows a message to be sent to all of the teachers and teaching assistants in the course. Those show up in the Conversations Inbox (not tied to the assignment).
Canvas has both approaches covered. There is a non-button help feature for each assignment and a literal button help feature for general questions. We just need to tell students to use them.
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