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.


I don’t think students received the welcome announcement. What do i do?

If your welcome announcement was created prior to your course being published and it was NOT set to delayed posting, then your students will not have received an email about the announcement.

If this is the case, you can resend the announcement by editing it, selecting delayed posting and set the date and time for some time in the future. Note that your course must be published for the notification to be sent out.

Announcements > Open desired announcement > Edit > Delay posting > set date and time > Save

How can I tell whether the students received my announcement?

In your account notification settings there is an option to be notified immediately of an announcement created by you. Make sure that option is selected, and the system will send you the same email copy that the students get.

Account > Notifications > Announcements created by you

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Why do I get a “Flash required for recording video” error message when I try to use the Record Video function?

Often if you’re using Chrome the Record Media comment tool will show a spinning circle with a note saying “Flash required for recording video”.

This usually means that Flash is not enabled for this Canvas site by default.
To fix this:

  1. To the left of the browser’s URL bar you’ll see a lock icon with Secure in green. Click this.
  2. Select Site Settings

  3. Next to the Flash icon, select Allow from the dropdown menu.

  4. Now refresh your browser view by clicking the Reload button presented, or the arrow next to the URL bar.

Can I send an announcement to just one section of students?

Currently, No. However, you can send a message to all students in a section.
To do that:

  1. In the Global navigation menu, click Inbox
  2. From the All Courses dropdown menu, select the correct course.
  3. Click the Compose a new message feather icon
  4. Click the address book icon
  5. Click the Course sections link
  6. Select the desired section
  7. Type your message below the line
  8. Click send

Can students create a discussion topic?

By default, YES. You can disable this for discussions in your course in the More Options dropdown in the Settings button.

Using Gmail, how can I set up a filter that manages the influx of Canvas notifications?

  1. Put a tick in the checkbox next to an example of the message you want to filter
  2. Click the More dropdown button on the top menu bar
  3. Select Filter messages like these
    You need to choose text in the subject line or the body of the email that is specific to that particular type of message. So for Message notifications, for example, adding the following into the Subject line field and replacing [course name] with your actual course name will select only the notifications of new messages from that particular course.
  4. Add into Subject field: ([course name]) just sent you a message
  5. Click Create filter with this search
  6. Select the options you wish to apply.
  7. Recommendation: select Apply the label and create a descriptive label for messages coming from that course.
  8. Create filter

Can I post to Twitter from Canvas?

No, you can’t.   As an instructor, you will only be able to connect your Twitter account to your Canvas shell.  Students will be able to see your tweets as you post them.  For more information on connecting your Twitter account to your Canvas account, click here.

How do I communicate with individual groups in Canvas?

You can use the Conversations (Inbox) function to communicate with the individual groups in your course.  When composing a message, click on the arrow next to Select course, and then select the group from the list.  To learn more about conversations, refer to How to: Use conversations in Canvas.

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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