ARCHIVED: Communicate with students

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You'll want to let students know about changes in schedules, assignments, procedures, and broader course expectations. Early and frequent communication can ease student anxiety, and save you dealing with individual questions.

Keep these principles in mind:

  • Communicate early and often: Let students know about changes or disruptions as early as possible, even if all the details aren't in place yet, and let them know when they can expect more specific information. Don't swamp them with email, but consider matching the frequency of your messages with that of changes in class activities and/or other broader updates related to the current situation.
  • Set expectations: Let students know how you plan to communicate with them, and how often. Tell students both how often you expect them to check their email, and how quickly they can expect your response. Let them know, too, if you are using the Canvas Inbox tool, since they may need to update their notification preferences (details in the next section).
  • Manage your communications load: You will likely receive some individual requests for information that could be useful to all your students, so consider keeping track of frequently asked questions and sending those replies out to everyone. This way, students know they might get a group reply in a day versus a personal reply within an hour. Also, consider creating an information page in Canvas, and then encourage students to check there first for answers before emailing you.

Tools for communicating with students


Email can be an effective tool for communicating with individuals and groups, especially when you want recipients to have the opportunity to reply to your messages. The easiest way to send email to your students is to initiate the message from your Canvas Inbox. By starting from within Canvas, you don't need to keep track of email addresses, and you can choose to contact individuals, groups, sections, or the entire class. Should you decide to use Canvas as your primary messaging tool, keep in mind that some students may choose not to forward Canvas messages to their IU or personal email accounts. Let them know that they should check their Canvas Inbox regularly or change their notification preferences in Canvas; refer them to How do I set my Canvas notification preferences as a student?

If you prefer to use Outlook for email, you can look up your students' email addresses in the IU Directory or the Photo Roster, available in every Canvas class. Consider printing the IU Photo Roster towards the beginning of the semester for your own records.


Canvas Announcements

The Canvas Announcements tool is useful for posting information that you want to share with the entire class. By default, students cannot reply to announcements, but you can change this setting on the Course Details page in Settings; see How do I disable announcement replies for an entire course? As with Canvas messages, whether students receive email notifications for new announcements depends on their personal Canvas notification settings. To make sure that students see new announcements when they access your course, consider adding recent announcements to your course home page; see How do I show recent announcements in the Course Home Page?


Zoom for live audio or videoconferencing

On occasion, you may need to communicate with an individual or a group of students in real time. Zoom at IU is available for anyone at IU, and you can run it from a tablet, smartphone, or computer. You'll need a headset, or a microphone and speakers for audio, and a webcam for video.


Student Engagement Roster (SER)

The Student Engagement Roster (SER) tool allows faculty members to give students feedback about their performance in class, and to recommend ways students can improve or deepen their learning. Many recommendations (for example, "Consult with writing lab/center for help") provide links to appropriate campus services.

When you enter information about students, they receive an email message directing them to review their SER dashboard. The information also becomes available to their advisors. Adding a recommendation of "Consult with advisor" directly notifies advisors to check in with students on any issues they're experiencing with their coursework. SER feedback helps advisors spot patterns across classes that signal additional opportunities for assistance.


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Last modified on 2023-10-20 14:38:34.