CSUEB Online Tools Help

Canvas Course Communications

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This article is for faculty using Canvas who want to use the platform to communicate with students and other staff.

1. Types of Communication on Canvas

Inbox icon highlighted on the Global Navigation Menu and Announcement highlighted on the Course Navigation Links Menu

The Inbox is a collection of Messages you receive and send to individual students; all users in a course; and to active users in multiple courses . Announcements allows you to quickly broadcast information to all students in a particular course, and/or to specific sections of merged (cross-listed) courses.

2. Messages

2.1. Open Your Inbox

Click on Inbox on the Global Navigation Menu. This menu is on the left side of the page.

Global Navigation Menu with the Inbox icon highlighted

If you have a new message, you may see a number on the inbox icon.

By default, you will first see conversations (or messages) in your inbox. Click on the conversation's link to view the full message.

Left side of the Inbox page with the writer, recipient, subject, and message stub of one message highlighted

The full conversation will be displayed in the center of the page.

Inbox with the conversation expanded and displayed in the middle of the page

2.2. View Your Available Courses

You can view all conversations in your inbox, or you can view them for one course. Click on the All Courses drop down menu to filter your conversations.

Inbox Courses Drop down menu with the All Courses option highlighted

To view unread, starred, sent, or archived conversations, click on the Inbox drop down menu. If a student replies to a message that you sent from the Gradebook, it will show up in your inbox. If you send a student a message from the Gradebook, your student will see it by choosing Submission Comments.  

Inbox page with the Inbox drop down menu expanded with the following options: inbox, unread, starred, sent, archived, submission comments

Learn how to send messages to students from the Canvas Grades page here.

2.3. Compose a Message

To compose a new message, click on the pencil icon at the top of the page.

Middle of the page with the pencil icon at the top highlighted

To send a message to students in one course, make your selection from the Course drop down menu.

Compose Message window with the Course drop down menu and the option Select course highlighted

From the To drop down menu, you can choose to send a message to (1) All participants in your course, or you can narrow your selection by clicking on (2) the arrow next to Students.

Compose Message window with To active and the All in course option selected

Clicking on the Students arrow will allow you to see and select individual students. Click on All in Students to send your message to all students in this class.

Compose Message window wth To active and All in Students (for a course) highlighted

You can send messages to students in your active courses, but you cannot use the Canvas Inbox tool to send messages to students in courses that are inactive. Consider using your @csueastbay.edu email to contact students at their @horizon.csueastbay.edu accounts before terms have begun and after terms have ended.

Add a subject, then write your message.

Compose Message window with the Send button highlighted

Select the paperclip icon to attach a text type file that will push to horizon, staff, and faculty email accounts and Canvas Inbox recipients.

Select the play button icon to attach a video file that will only send to Canvas Inbox recipients, and will not push to horizon, staff, and faculty emails.

The image below displays how it looks to include a link inside the body of the text. Canvas Inbox messaging does not support linking URLs to text like you can in Canvas Announcements and in Gmail. Select Send.

By default, students receive notifications at their @horizon.csueastbay.edu accounts, but be aware that students can adjust their notification settings so that they get fewer notifications and may only see that they have a message when they log into Canvas.

You can also send a message to multiple classes. (1) Click on the address book icon to see your available courses. (2) Then click on the first course you would like to send a message to.

Compose Message window with the address book icon and the To field highlighted the address book icon highlighted and a second course selected in the To box

You will be prompted to choose either the whole class (by clicking on the class name), Teachers, Students, or Student Groups.  

Compose Message window with options for messaging participants in a course: teachers, students student groups

The course or group will appear in the To field. Next, you can choose another class by clicking on the address book icon again.

Compose Window with the address book icon highlighted and the To field with a second course highlighted

The course will appear below the To bar. Click on the course's name to contact all participants. Choose Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Students or Course Sections to contact a subset of participants.  

Compose Message window with the second course highlighted and options below to send to Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Students, and Course Sections (also a back button)
Compose Message window with two courses in the To field

You can repeat these selection steps for as many of your courses or groups as you would like to include in the message.

It is also possible to message individual students by going to the People link in the Course Navigation menu, but this method is not efficient for messaging multiple students.

3. Course Announcements

3.1. Viewing Course Announcements

Faculty can make announcements within their courses. Students can view these announcements several places. If students use the Course Card display option in their dashboards, they will see an announcement icon below the course image. Clicking on the icon will bring students to the Announcement page within the course.

Dashboard showing a course card with the announcements icon and the number two highlighted
A course announcements page showing an announcement titled Video Reminder for all sections

Students can also open a course and click on Announcements in the Course Navigation Links menu. This will bring them to the same page.

The Course navigation menu with the announcements link highlighted

By default, a course's Home Page displays the three most recent announcements.

Course home page with three recent announcements and the course navigation link for Home highlighted

Read this article from the Canvas Instructor Guide to learn how to change the number of announcements that are displayed on a home page.

3.2. Make an Announcement

Make a announcement by selecting the Announcements link on the Course Navigation menu to go to the Announcements page and then clicking on the +Announcement button.

Announcements page with the + Announcement button on the right side highlighted

Add a (1) topic title and (2) write your announcement in the content editor. You can add (3) links, (4) images, and (5) videos.

Create New Announcement with the Topic Title field and the body text field highlighted

Note that if you add images (png, jpg) to your Announcements, and you want images to be accessible in student, staff, and faculty Gmail accounts,  after uploading an image file, click the image, select image options -then choose the option Display Text Link (Opens in a new tab). Select Done at the bottom to save settings.

Choose the sections in your course that you wish to see the announcement under Post to. Click on the Save button to post your announcement.

Announcement Post to with All sections selected and an Attachement and further options below: delay posting allow users to commnet, users must post before seeing replies, enable podcast feed, allow liking unchecked

You can also create announcements from your home page. Click on New Announcement on the button on the right side of the page. This will bring you to the announcement page.

Two Recent announcements with the announcement titles, text stubs, and posted on dates

By default, students will receive email notifications with the text of the announcement at their Horizon email addresses, but be aware that media (.png, .jpg image files) will not display in the horizon gmail notification. Also, students can choose in their notification settings whether or not they will be emailed a notification. Consider including a statement in the syllabus suggesting students log into Canvas regularly.

See below for a view inside Canvas of an announcement with an embedded image and a text link in red at the bottom.

See below for a view inside Gmail of an announcement with an embedded image and a text link ito the map. Note how the embedded image does not show inside our student, staff, and faculty Gmail accounts. Selecting the text link to the image will bring the recipient to the image destination in the Canvas course.

4. Global Announcements

You may sometimes see Global Announcements above your course cards on your dashboard. These are usually University-wide announcements.

Image of the Global Navigation Menu with the Dashboard option highlighted and an example global announcement

You can close an announcement using the x button. To get to an old Global Announcement, click on Account on the Global Navigation Menu (on the far left) and then choose Global Announcements.  

Image of the Global Navigation Menu with the dashboard highlighted and the Global Announcement link highlighted and an example global announcement

5. Notification Settings

Canvas users can decide how they will be notified about Canvas communications and course activities. You cannot change how another user will receive notifications.

5.1. Choose Account-level Notification Settings

You can choose how you will be notified about communications and course activities. To do so, select the Account icon on the Global Navigation menu and clicking on the Notifications tab.  

Global Navigation menu with Account highlighted and an account link menu with Notifications highlighted

The Account option from the Settings for drop down menu is selected by default. View your notification preferences on the right side of the page. Notifications will be sent to a student's @horizon.csueastbay.edu email account and faculty's @csueastbay.edu email account.  

Notification Settings with Settings for dropdown menu and Account selected with Email notification and icons for different activity settings highlighted on the right and examples of course activities on the left: due date, grading policies, course content

Canvas Student App users will also be able to choose mobile notifications.

Notification settings page with Push notification for all devices highlighted

Canvas has four different notification settings: (1) Notify immediately, (2) Daily summary, (3) Weekly summary, and (4) Notifications off.

Notification Settings page with Email notifications legend for notify immediately (bell icon), daily summary (day calendar icon), weekly summary (calendar with boxes icon), and notifications off (bell with slash icon)

5.2. Choose Course Notification Settings

You can choose different notifications for an individual course. Change your notifications settings for a course from the Settings for drop down menu.

Notification Settings page Setting for drop down menu highlighted and a list of courses below highlighted

Changing settings for a course will change how your receive notifications for that particular course. It will not affect how you receive notifications for your other courses.

You can also change notifications for a particular course from the Home Page. When you are on a course's Home Page, click on View Course Notifications. You will find this option to the left of the course announcements.

Home page with button menu on the right side ofthe page and the button for view course notifications highlighted

The View Course Notifications button will take you to (1) the Course Notifications Settings page. Change course settings using the icons on (2) the right side of the page.

Course Notification Settings page with Course notification settings header highlighted and email notification settings icons highlighted


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