With the proliferation of social media, blogs, pods, and streaming tv (not to mention non-digital forms of entertainment), simply getting students logged in and looking at course material is a challenge. Sending a message to students who have been inactive too long—whether that’s a day, three days, or a week—can help to create a sense of connection between the instructor and the student.

Canvas does not currently have an auto-messaging service for inactive students, but instructors have developed a few strategies for reaching out to these absentee students.

One suggestion is to have an assignment on the first day of class. This could be an introductory survey, an initial discussion board activity, a pre-course quiz, or any other assignment type that Canvas tracks. While viewing the grade book in Canvas you can click on the blue arrow next to an assignment to access a menu that includes the “Message Students Who” function.

Screenshot of the Canvas grade item drop down menu

Once the deadline has passed for your introductory assignment (or perhaps after a grace period of a couple days for late enrollees), you can generate a message to those students who haven’t submitted a response yet.

Screenshot of Canvas gradebook messaging service

For the introductory assignment, you might send a message reminding students of the online portion of their class. You could follow up with an additional message after say 10 days noting that students who do not complete the required online activities will be dropped from the class as no-shows.

This grade book messaging service can also be used to message students who make below a given grade on any assignment. It might be useful to set a plan at the beginning of the semester to send out messages at regular intervals (bi-weekly or monthly) to students who are struggling to offer help/remediation.

For more information about Canvas’s grade book messaging service and other tips on grade book usage, please check out the Canvas Instructor Guide.