Above all else, consistency is fundamental to communicating with your students. Use the same platform for communication throughout the semester so students know where to find new messages. Brown offers several platforms for communication. Each offers advantages and disadvantages.
Announcements allow instructors to communicate with students about course activities and post interesting course-related topics. Announcements are designed to allow instructors to broadcast information out to all members of a course or to all members of sections within a course.
Pros: Resides within the Canvas course. Messages persist in the course site and students will receive an email notification once the instructor releases the announcement.
Cons: Students have the ability to disable notifications and may not receive alerts about new announcements.
Piazza is a discussion tool designed for medium to large enrollment courses. Instructors can post announcements, and students can ask questions anonymously, answer each other’s questions, and bring attention to pertinent questions for teaching assistants and faculty to answer.
Pros: Can be used within or outside Canvas. Allows students to ask and follow questions, and for faculty to respond. Faculty responses are flagged to ensure students see the post.
Cons: Does not allow for graded discussions. If graded discussions are part of the course requirements, then Piazza would become a redundant discussion area, and complicate the overall student experience.
Google Course Group
When instructors request a Google course group, they receive a shared google account for the entire course roster. Instructors can email this google account to send messages to the entire class.
Pros: Roster updates in real-time with add/drops in Banner. Allows for emailing the class, as well as sharing files in Google Drive.
Cons: Does not integrate with Canvas.