Communicating with Sections and Individuals in Large Courses
This KB document is part of a larger collection of documents on teaching large courses. More Large Courses documents
With large courses, it can be difficult to stay connected to students. Let students know where to expect course and section-related communications to arrive, and where to get questions answered. Here are some tools and practices to consider:
- Whatever communications method(s) you choose, it’s a good idea to ask students to review and set their Canvas notification preferences to ensure that they will actually know when they are getting messages from you.
- For example, if you choose to communicate via Canvas Inbox, which is also known as Canvas Conversations, students will need to scroll down the notification preferences screen down to the tab labeled Conversations and review their preferences there.
- UW-Madison email (see your Google Groups to obtain your course and section email lists).
- Canvas Announcements. Announcements can be pre-scheduled to automatically post at a date and time you specify, such as for welcome messages or weekly reminders about due dates.
- Note: A certain level of repetition and review in class communications (ex. using both Canvas Module Pages to outline weekly tasks and Announcements to issue weekly reminder messages) supports student engagement in courses.
- Canvas Inbox (or Conversations) is essentially an email inbox living inside of Canvas that you can use to communicate with the whole course, individual sections, or individual students. By directing individuals to message you through Canvas Inbox, you can relieve the load on people’s UW-Madison email. The Canvas Inbox can also filter messages by course or section. Canvas Inbox can also filter messages by course or by section.
- You can send messages to students' Canvas Inbox through the Gradebook using the Message students who... tool. For example, you can send an encouraging boilerplate message to students who failed to submit an assignment, or who scored above or below a certain threshold that you designate for an assignment or quiz.
- To limit the need to field repeat questions, consider steering students to a course-wide, student-led Q&A forum using Piazza or Canvas Discussions.
- See this walkthrough of developing and encouraging the use of a Piazza Q&A forum by Professor Tim Paustian (Microbiology).