Send a bulk mailing in Canvas with Canvas Notifier

On this page:


Canvas Notifier is a tool developed at Indiana University for sending notifications to a list of users in Canvas. Notifications are delivered to the Canvas inbox. Canvas Notifier is only accessible to Canvas administrators, but IU schools and departments can submit requests to use the tool to distribute bulk mailings in Canvas with or without personalization.

Submit a Canvas Notifier request

To submit a request to use Canvas Notifier, email the UITS LMS Development team, and include the following:

  • Your name, email address, and job title
  • Your campus
  • Name of your academic or administrative unit
  • Purpose of the communication
  • Desired distribution date

Once your request has been received and reviewed, UITS will contact you for the message text and other data required for the notification.

Prepare the message and user list

Shortly after you submit your request, a UITS staff member will contact you to gather the information required to distribute the notification. Prepare the following items and include them in your response:

  • Sender name: Desired display name of sender; typically this is the name of an academic or administrative unit, but it can also be the name of an institutional role or initiative (for example, Student Central, Office of First Year Experience Programs at IUB, National Survey of Student Engagement, University Data Manager).
  • Subject line: Include a short, attention-getting description of the message contents.
  • Message text: Notifications are plain-text messages delivered to the Canvas Inbox of the individuals in the user list. Keep the formatting simple; avoid special formatting such as boldface, italics, underlining, etc. URLs will be formatted as hyperlinks when the message is distributed.

    To personalize your message, you can include variables in the message text that will be replaced with data in your mailing list, similar to a mail merge in Microsoft Word. Variable names must be unique and should begin and end with two percent symbols (%%), for example:

    Dear %%firstname%%,
  • Recipient list: Prepare the recipient list in Microsoft Excel. The first column of the sheet should be titled username, and should contain the IU username for each intended recipient.

    If your message includes variables, include a column for each variable. Column headings for variables should consist of the variable name without the percent signs. For example, if the variable in the message is %%firstname%%, the column heading in the spreadsheet would be firstname. Populate each row of the variable columns with the data appropriate for each recipient.

Once the LMS Development team receives your data, they will run a distribution in the Canvas Test environment and notify you if there are any problems. If the test is successful, the notification will be distributed in the Canvas Production environment, and you'll be contacted when the job has been completed.

This is document bgiw in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2022-03-22 16:10:15.