Geology of the National Parks

Course Communications


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.


A new announcement will be posted each Monday. These are messages from your instructor that contain important information. 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. Current announcements can be accessed through the Announcements link in Canvas. 


Conversations are the equivalent of e-mail in Canvas. It's the best option for discussing personal matters with the teaching team. Keep in mind that the text editor is very minimal, and does not have much formatting capability. Please use course conversations for private messages to instructors.


This is a very large enrolling course with multiple TAs. If you want a timely response, it is critical that you email All Teachers and all TAs in every email you send, including new email threads and replies to all emails that come from a teacher or a TA. Watch the following video or read the transcript to learn how to do this in Canvas.

A how-to video: How to e-mail "All Teachers" and "All Teaching Assistants".
Click for transcript.

Hello. This is a short video on how to send email in GEOSC 10 through Canvas. This is a little bit different than other courses because it is essential that you send email to all of the teachers and all of the TAs every single time. So I'm going to walk through this. You'll see here I am in Canvas. I clicked on the inbox, and I selected GEOSC 10 National Parks. You can see you can select various courses. Select the course, and I'm going to create a new message.

I'm going to hit the little folder or person icon here. Select teachers, Richard. I'm going to do this four times. Teacher, Jennifer. Teacher, Shelby. And teachers, Chloe. Now, depending on the semester that you're viewing this, the TAs' names will be different. But all of those names that are under teacher need to be put into the section right here. I'm going to do a descriptive subject line and the body and then hit Send.

Now, again, so if you have an email that you've received from one of the TAs, you're going to have to do the same thing. So you're going to, you're going to hit Reply instead of Compose New Message, but I don't have anything to reply to at this time. You're going to do the same thing. Click to, teachers, and select each of these. This is essential that you do this in order to receive a timely response. There are 1,200 of you and only four of us. And it's very, very important that we all have an opportunity to see it and respond to your email. So please be very fastidious about sending all of your emails to all of the teachers. Thank you.


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 course content should be shared with the entire class via the "General Questions and Comments Discussion Forum". That way, everyone can benefit from the discussion.


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!