How can I communicate with students?

There is a variety of communication options for instructors and course staff in Canvas. The communication options are available in different locations throughout Canvas such as via the Announcements tool, Discussions tool and the Inbox tool. See more information on each tool below, so you can determine which option fits your needs. 


  • Can be made by instructors, TAs and course admins
  • Are saved within the course site and notification emails are sent automatically to student email addresses
  • Students can respond to announcements, publicly, but instructors and TAs can disable this option

How to send an Announcement

More information about the Announcement tool


  • Allows you to communicate privately with course participants
  • Can filter recipients by section or specific students
  • Messages are sent to recipients' email addresses while also existing in Canvas
  • Students can respond to messages directly from their email client
  • Messages may be created by instructors, TAs and students

How to send a Message

More information about the Conversations Tool


  • Real-time text communicate between all course participants at the same time
  • Message CANNOT be deleted once sent and can be seen by all 
  • Identical to instant messaging 

How to use Chat in a course

More information about the Chat Tool


  • Acts as a forum to allow discussion among students
  • Subscription option notifies subscribers of activity within a discussion
  • Students can "like" each other's posts
  • Has the rich-text editor to allow more diversity 
  • Can be graded and added to the course grade

How to create a discussion post

More information on the Discussion tool


  • Allows for real-time conferencing including audio and video
  • Can screen share with all participants
  • Has a chat function 
  • Can be recorded 
  • Uses BigBlueButton

How to create a conference

More information on Conferences

Message Students Who...

  • Instructors and TAs can send messages from the gradebook to students based on a certain criteria (e.g., who have not submitted an assignment, have no received a grade, etc.)
  • Students will receive a message but won't see the other students who also received the message
  • Good for contacting students who may be falling behind and/or recognizing students who did well on an assignment 

Communication from the gradebook

Via email client (Outside of Canvas)

If you wish to communicate with students outside of Canvas, you can export student email addresses from the Roster Photos tab to send an email. If you choose to go this route, we recommend using the bcc field so fellow class members do not see each other’s email addresses.

Alternatively, you can create a mailing list for your course by submitting a HelpSU ticket to the AS Course Support mailing list team for more information: