Yesterday we looked at how you might organise your Canvas File Storage. Today, we check out Canvas Announcements, what they are, how they could be used and why they are beneficial.

What are announcements?

Canvas announcements are notifications you can send to all or certain groups of students enrolled on the modules you teach. The simple answer is announcements keep students informed in real-time and they appear in chronological order. Essentially, announcements can be used to:

  • inform
  • instruct
  • remind
  • gather information
  • celebrate
How could announcements be used?

You might need to inform students of:

  • a classroom change due to timetable clashes
  • maybe there’s an article or event of interest you want to share with students
  • inform students of assessment / exam instructions
  • when grades and feedback are available
  • Canvas updates and maintenance down-times

Students could be given instruction if:

  • you’re sick or running late and want students to do a particular task until you arrive
  • instruct student to do tasks between classes

Reminders can be sent to students for:

  • tasks to be completed
  • deadlines
  • any upcoming events to be attended

Announcements could be used to gather information:

  • via comments and discussion (i.e., get students thoughts on a topic)
  • survey or evaluation feedback

Lastly, announcements might be used to:

  • celebrate students success (i.e., student of the week/month)
Why are announcements beneficial?

When announcements are sent, students can receive alerts via text message, social media or email.

Credit: Azabo Viktor
Credit: Azabo Viktor

If students have the Canvas App on their mobile device and notification settings adjusted to receive announcements, they get the information directly to their device no matter where they are. This is beneficial for those last minute changes in teaching. There’s no need to log into an email account or Canvas with a computer when you arrive to class to find out class been cancelled or relocated and it saves time as mobile devices are always on students.

Good practices

At the start of a course, announcements can be used to introduce yourself as the teacher, welcome new students and set ‘ground rules’. For example, signpost students to the Student Orientation Course and when this should be completed by (set a date), give an overview of the course just started, what assessments there might be and the essentials to be completed/submitted and by when. Also, inform students of the best Canvas experience, i.e., use a laptop or desktop. Encourage students to check announcements regularly and set their notifications up in a way to maximise the benefit of announcements across devices.

Weekly announcements are a nice way to summarise the previous weeks content and set out what is to be covered (and by when) for the week ahead. Tasks can be set, i.e., read chapter 5 and review video before coming to class. There is opportunity here to motivate and remind students of any deadlines in the week ahead as well as setting boundaries, i.e., I won’t accept late work.

When publishing weekly content, an announcement can be issued. Don’t just say “this weeks content is available”. Do add in the Canvas page title with hyperlink to the Canvas page so students know where to find it. Never upload the content directly to the announcement as it will get lost in the stream of notifications and will be really hard to find later.

Academics may want to summarize/clarify teaching and/or discussion points or give feedback to students on class tasks. These notifications can be sent to all students and this is a nice way to share ‘all class’ summaries or feedback. The ‘reply to announcements’ is available. This allows students to comment which is beneficial to draw out understanding and creating communications between students.

Perhaps you want to set up announcements as reminders. These can be set up and posting ‘delayed’ until a date/time of your choice. This allows you to organise more at the start of a module and get on with other things later. If reminders are about assessments, link to the assessment pages. It might be academics need to remind students of non-teaching information, i.e., procedures of booking study spaces, library inductions, contact details is there are IT issues, etc. Remember to have the information on a Canvas page and send students the links to those pages via announcements, it helps signpost and orientate students within the Canvas space.

Not all announcements have to be written. We can create video / audio announcements too. This is more personal whereby the academic records themselves with their message and directly engages students. And, this is quicker than composing a written dialogue. However, some announcements may be a combination of recording and text to be personable and refer to the content ‘as detailed underneath’, i.e., tasks, reading, etc.

Be mindful

Canvas may not be the most user-friendly system on smaller devices. Whilst being mindful of this, announcements should not be drastically long and use lots of multimedia as smaller devices may not display everything. Whilst mobile devices are great for those announcements which inform students of room changes or staff being sick/running late, do encourage students to check their Canvas announcements regularly on a laptop or desktop.

Try to avoid sending out announcements too frequently. This can be frustrating for students as they prefer announcements detailed in a way they know what is done, what is next to be done and by when. Weekly announcements should be scheduled for the same day each week. This builds routine and students like consistency.

Next time

Tomorrow, we look at your courses’ Recommended Reading section and the best practices of setting this up via Queen’s University and the QUB Library.

Please do join us then to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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