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Canvas: Communication Tools

Communication Overview

Canvas offers several tools that can be used to communicate with students. The following tools and strategies will be reviewed: 

  • Inbox
  • Announcements
  • Chat
  • Collaborations

Communication Tools

Summary: The inbox tool, or Conversations is a messaging tool used to communicate with students & student groups. This video provides an overview of the inbox features and walks through composing a message.

Duration: 1 minute, 40 seconds

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Summary: Announcements can be used to broadcast information to your students. This video will walk through the process of building an announcement. Some example uses:

  • Reminders of due dates (ex: a take home exam, or a project).
  • Provide supplemental information to students (ex: resources for a project).
  • Announce a guest speaker event.
  • Announce class cancellations.
  • Announce make-up work opportunities and due date changes.
  • For online courses, post an overview of the coming week as well as summarize previous week’s main points.
  • Create announcements for student groups.
  • Post to all sections (default) or select particular section (maybe class is cancelled for only your T, TH class).

Duration: 1 minute

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Chat allows you to engage with students in real-time. There is 1 chatroom per course. Comments can be deleted by the instructor. 

Suggested Uses:

  • Let students know there is a chat tool in the course and what it is to be used for (real-time conversation).
  • Use chat to hold virtual office hours.
  • Use chat as a study session before a test.
  • Conduct Q&A sessions.
  • Encourage students to ask content-related questions using chat so peers can learn from other student’s questions.
  • If this tool is used, it is suggested to follow through and check it daily.
  • If you choose not to use the tool, you can hide it in settings --> navigation tab.




Summary: The collaboration tool allows students to work in real-time on a document, spreadsheet, or presentation with other students or groups. To use this tool, you must agree to link to your VT Google Drive. 

Suggested uses:

  • A place to share agendas for upcoming classes.
  • Assign student groups to work collaboratively on an evolving document you can check on to formatively assess.
  • Join a collaboration with a student or group virtually and offer your feedback.
  • Can be used in student groups homepage.
  • Create a text-based whiteboard that everyone in the classroom can see and refer to later.

This video will provide an overview of the collaboration tool.

Duration: 1 minute, 11 seconds

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Additional Support


Technical Support: VT4help

Additional Documentation: