Meaningful interactions among students and instructors are the hallmark of a successful online class. Canvas supports several kinds of communication, as described below.
In addition, registered students have a Penn State email account (<Access Account ID>@psu.edu) that they need to monitor for any official communications that come from the University or from the Penn State World Campus.
The Canvas course management system supports several modes of communication, including discussion forums and course mail.
- Discussion forums are a kind of public email known as "threaded discussion." Everyone enrolled in the class can post messages of their own and can read and respond to every other message. A series of messages that make up a conversation is called a "thread." Discussion forums are included in each chapter and project module.
- In general, questions and comments about project assignments, and about topics in the course text that pertain to more than a single page, should be shared with the entire class via the discussion forums. That way, everyone can benefit from the discussion.
- Course mail is private email; only the recipients you designate can read your messages. Course mail is also internal to Canvas.
- Please use course mail only for private messages to instructors or fellow students.
- Many instructors prefer to keep course mail within the course management system, except for emergencies. Please do initiate and reply to course related mail within the Canvas Inbox, even if you're reading your email in one of the forwarded methods discussed below.
Whenever you post a message in a forum or send course mail, please title every message with a descriptive subject line. Subject lines that include the gist of a question or comment increase the chances that students and instructors can retrieve the messages we're looking for. Poor subject lines, such as "Question" or "Lesson 1," are not very useful as search keywords. When replying to a prior message, consider whether or not the subject line should be altered to indicate the content of your reply!
Communications from the University and from the Penn State World Campus
Occasionally the University or the World Campus needs to communicate with students. To do so they use the @psu.edu email address that each registered student has, not Canvas course email.
In addition, a letter, in PDF format, that reports your final course grade will be automatically generated and sent to your @psu.edu email address.
So, it is important that you regularly monitor your @psu.edu email account.
- To monitor your @psu.edu email, you can use the Penn State web mail system, described here.
- However, I recommend that you simply have your @psu.edu email forwarded to your preferred email account. You can control the forwarding of your @psu.edu email account by going to your Penn State Account.
Have questions? Need help?
There are many ways to get the help you need. See the "Help!" link in the Resources menu (left) to learn more about the people and resources available to you.