How to: use Conversations in Canvas


Canvas, Communications, Conversations, How to, LMS, Notifications Leave a Comment

What is Conversations in Canvas?

Conversations is the in-built messaging tool used to communicate with a course, a group of students, an individual student, or an entire cohort of students.
Conversations allows you to:

  • Send a message to someone in your course or group
  • Send a message to yourself
  • Reply to messages from others in your course
  • Filter conversations by course or type
  • View and reply to assignment submission comments

How do I use conversations in Canvas?

To start a conversation in Canvas follow the steps below:

  1. Click the Inbox link (under Calendar) on the universal navigation bar.  If you have unread conversations, an indicator (in numbers) will be displayed.
  2. All conversations will be listed on the left.  An unread conversation will display a black circle next to it.
  3. To read a conversation, click on it to open it.  The content of the conversation will appear on the right.
  4. Once a conversation is selected, you can use the following options in the tool bar:

View Toolbar Options

[1] Reply to a conversation

[2] Reply-All to a conversation

[3] Archive conversation

[4] Delete a conversation

[5] Forward, star or mark as unread

The main difference between Blackboard and Canvas is that the conversations function in Canvas combines two different Blackboard messaging functions:

The Course Messages function under Course Tools allows instructors to create and send private and secure messages to course members only

The Send Email function allows instructors to send email messages to different types of users, system roles and groups.

For more information check:

The Conversations in Canvas guide for instructors.


  • You can open your inbox in a new browser window while you work on other tasks.   Just right-click on the Inbox link.
  • Only students enrolled in the course will appear on the conversations.


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

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.

For more information check the Conversations Guide for students.

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