GEOG 571
Intelligence Analysis, Cultural Geography, and Homeland Security



Meaningful interactions among students and instructors are the hallmark of a successful online class. Canvas supports several types of communication, as described below.

In addition, registered students have Penn State e-mail accounts (<Access Account ID> that they need to monitor for any official communications that come from the University or from the Penn State World Campus.

Please note that this is a comprehensive list of communication tools available in Canvas. This course may or may not utilize all of the options below.


These are messages from your instructor that contain important information. Current announcements can be accessed through the Announcements link in Canvas. Announcements may highlight assignment due dates (also published in the course Calendar), lesson recaps, a preview of an upcoming lesson and other essential course information.


The Inbox is the equivalent of e-mail in Canvas. It's great to use for a quick e-mail to another student, instructor, or a whole team. Keep in mind that the text editor is very minimal, and does not have much formatting capability. Please use the Canvas Inbox only for private messages to instructors or fellow students.


Discussions allow students to interact with the instructor and other classmates. Threaded discussions allow multiple posts and replies. New posts appear in the Course Activity Stream page, so you will know when something has been posted.

  • In general, questions and comments about project assignments, and course content should be shared with the entire class via the discussion forums. That way, everyone can benefit from the discussion.
  • Need more help using discussion forums? Review the Canvas Student Guide section on Discussions.


Conferences allow instructors or student Groups to host synchronous meetings online. Canvas integrates with BigBlueButton, a conferencing tool similar to Adobe Connect. Recordings made in BigBlueButton are available for a period of only two weeks after creation.


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 World Campus

Occasionally, the University or the World Campus needs to communicate with students. To do so, they use the e-mail address that each registered student has been given and not the Canvas course e-mail.

In addition, a letter, in PDF format, that reports your final course grade will be automatically generated and sent to your e-mail address.

So, it is important that you regularly monitor your e-mail account.

  • To monitor your e-mail, you can use Penn State email in Outlook.
  • However, I recommend that you simply have your e-mail forwarded to your preferred e-mail account. You can control the forwarding of your e-mail account by going to Penn State Account Management.