Communicating with students can improve engagement, ease anxiety and improve learning.

There are multiple channels and purposes for communicating to the whole class, to groups and to individual students. You communicate to welcome, to give information, to guide and to get feedback. It is a two-way activity. Some examples are the course contents, announcements, messages, web conferencing, discussions, office hours, and assessment feedback.

Messages and Announcements

Announcements are for the whole class, or in a Group home page, to the group. Canvas Inbox messages can be to an individual, group, section or class, but students will need to have their notifications set on or visit the Canvas course to become aware of the latest news. Canvas Inbox Messages and Announcements do not get sent unless the course is published. A more direct way to message students is to email them from the Faculty Service Centre (FSC). 

Be sure to let students know about your availability and response time for their messages and emails to you. 

You can create an announcement to share important information with all students within your course or within specific course sections. 

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Announcements from the course sidebar.
  2. Click the Add Announcement button.
  3. Add a title and content for the announcement. You can also add links, files, and images.
  4. In the Options section, you can delay the posting of your announcement. This allows you to schedule the announcement for a future date.
  5. Click Save. Unless you delay posting, your announcement will immediately be posted for students. If you haven’t yet, you should remind students to set their notification preferences to receive notifications right away. 


Tip: Your course must be published and available (after the course start date) for students to receive announcement notifications.

More information:

You can use the Canvas Inbox to send a message to all students in your course, all students within specific course sections, all students in a group, or to individual students. 

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and choose Inbox from the global sidebar.
  2. Click the Compose icon.
  3. In the Courses drop-down menu, select your course.
  4. Search for students to add to the “To” field or use the course roster to find names.
  5. Type your message. Note that all content is sent in plain text. You can also include an attachment or media file.
  6. When you are finished, click the Send button. 


More information:

You can use the Faculty Service Centre to send a message to all students in your course, all students within specific course sections, or to individual students. 

  1. Log in to Faculty Service Centre using your CWL.
  2. Search for Sections to Manage.
  3. Select a course.
  4. Choose a student to email, or press “Select All” to send to the whole class.
  5. Type your message and send. 


Tip: Use FSC as your last option – the resources are not built to handle massive amounts of communication. 

More information:

Class Discussions

Interactive discussion boards for students can be easily set up in Canvas. Create graded or ungraded discussion topics where students can post, read other responses, and reply. You can set up whole class discussions or group discussions.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Discussions in the Course Navigation. 
  2. Click the +Discussion blue button in the upper right side of the screen to add a discussion topic.
  3. Create a title and description for your discussion. You can also add links, files, and images.
  4. Set your discussion options: 
    • By default, discussions are created as “focused” discussions. To create a threaded discussion, click the Allow threaded replies checkbox. 
    • To make your discussion available only during a specific dates, enter dates in the availability fields. 

5. To create a graded discussion, click the Graded checkbox. Once selected, additional options will be added to the page for assigning the discussion. 

6. Once you are ready, click Save & Publish. 



  • A discussion board with all your students can get unmanageable very quickly. Consider creating discussion boards with different topics. 
  • Communicate your expectations about how the discussion boards are to be used. This can be done in the description section of the discussion. 

More information:

Remote Office Hours

Using Zoom, you can host remote office hours as well as set up individual or group meetings with students.