How to: Communications in Canvas


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What are the Communications options in Canvas?

One of the strengths of Canvas, is the opportunity to promote engagement and learning between staff and students and between students themselves, with a range of communication options. Discussions, Announcements, Conversations (email), Collaborations, Conferences, Calendar, Gradebook, and Speedgrader all offer communications functionality. Some of these are suitable for general class or group communications, and others are great for feedback and discussion around student work as assessment.

Watch the video below for more information about the different functions.

Canvas has similar functions to Blackboard (Bb) in the Discussions, email, conferences and announcements functions. All Canvas users have greater control over the notifications they receive (user profile > notifications). In addition to Bb functionality,
Canvas also offers voice and video feedback on assessments via the Speedgrader, student commenting functionality on assignment feedback, video embeds in announcement, the ability to contact students via the Gradebook, and the ability to work collaboratively on documents either in Canvas pages or Google docs. Students also have greater control over content and communications within their own group spaces.
For more information about the individual functions check these guides from the Canvas Community:





Conversations (Email)






  • Think about your communication plan before you start teaching. How do you want to handle commonly asked questions? Consider setting up discussions to handle these questions, and reduce your email load. Check out our post on Creating (and sticking to!) a communication plan for your course
  • Remember students can control their own notification preferences in Canvas. If you want to ensure they are receiving important messages in a timely manner consider showing them through the student notifications settings and communicating those expectations to them from the outset.


Do I have to sign off announcements?

Yes, we recommend you to sign off every announcement you post.  The reason for this is that when announcements are sent via email and students read them from their inbox, Canvas does not specify who the sender is.  The details of the sender can only be viewed if the announcement is being read from within Canvas.

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