Communications

Find tools for communicating with your students online during the course generally or during office hours. All tools recommended by the LT Hub have passed a UBC Privacy Impact Assessment and receive central technical and pedagogical support.

Announcements

Announcements can encompass any important information you want to share with the class (e.g., grade releases, assignment updates, changes to the schedule).

General Tips

  • Use announcements consistently with students to establish and maintain an online presence, especially in fully online courses.
  • If you plan to use announcements as weekly check-ins, share them at the same time each week, so students learn when to expect them and pay attention.
  • Help keep students on track by linking directly to any assignments or materials mentioned in the announcements.
  • Include audio or video clips featuring you or your teaching team when appropriate, to make announcements more engaging and bolster the sense of instructor presence in the course.

canvas-logo

Cost for use:
None

Bandwidth demand:
Low (a slow Internet connection should not impact basic access)

Requirements for FIPPA compliant use:
None

Canvas Announcements

Broadcast information in Canvas to communicate with the whole class or with specific sections using general announcements.

What are the benefits?

  • Students can use the “Announcements” area of your Canvas course to access all announcements, making this information potentially easier to find than in an inbox.
  • Students also receive email notifications of new announcements in your course by default (unless they opt out).
  • You can draft announcements early and release them at a future date and time.

Canvas Inbox

Message information in Canvas to the whole class, specific sections, or individual students using an email-like format.

What are the benefits?

  • The Inbox is useful when you want a two-way communication channel in Canvas for reaching all or part of your course’s students, as they can reply to it just like an email.
  • You can use the Inbox for private or individualized communication that is more targeted than an announcement.
  • You and your students will also receive email notifications of new messages by default (unless you opt out).

Get started »


UBC Blogs

Cost for use:
None

Bandwidth demand:
Low (a slow Internet connection should not impact basic access)

Requirements for FIPPA compliant use:
None

UBC Blogs Posts

Share information in a date-based way outside of Canvas, using a post on a course website.

What are the benefits?

  • You can invite interactivity by letting students comment on posts or share information through posts of their own.
  • Students can receive automatic email notifications of new posts, once you add students to your site.
  • Since UBC Blogs can be shared publicly, you can use posts to communicate broadly with guests, partners, or students not at UBC or not enrolled in your course.

Get started »

Virtual Office Hours

Virtual office hours provide a real-time online space for students to meet with you to work through questions they have, one-on-one or in small groups.

General Tips

  • Keep your office hour instructions and requirements simple to encourage attendance.
  • Consider having attendance at one office hour mandatory for each student early in the term, to help students feel comfortable both with using the technology and meeting with you one-on-one.
  • If you’re using Canvas, the Canvas Scheduler tool can help you manage scheduling office hours with your students.

bb-collaborate-icon Collaborate Ultra

Cost for use:
None

Bandwidth demand:
High (a slow Internet connection may impact access)

Requirements for FIPPA compliant use:
None

Collaborate Ultra Breakout Groups

Interact with students using video, audio, text chatting, and screen sharing in web-conferencing sessions.

What are the benefits?

  • Collaborate Ultra provides a real-time space to meet with students for interactive sessions.
  • You can use a feature called breakout groups to meet privately with individual students or groups during general open office hours.
  • Collaborate Ultra lets you have an ongoing virtual course room in Canvas that students can join at any time, making it convenient for quick check-ins without having to set anything up.

Get started »


 

Cost for use:
Departments must provide funding per teaching team member

Bandwidth demand:
Low (a slow Internet connection should not impact basic access)

Requirements for FIPPA compliant use:
None

Mattermost Channels

Chat in real-time using specific office hours channels (i.e., spaces for conversation).

What are the benefits?

  • Chat with students to give them immediacy without the intensity that can come from using video and/or audio.
  • You can use private channels to chat privately with select individual students or groups.
  • Alternatively, you can host all or part of general office hours on a public channel, so anyone can observe the questions and answers. This approach can be helpful for students who may not know what to ask initially.

Get started »


Cost for use:
None

Bandwidth demand:
High (a slow Internet connection may impact access)

Requirements for FIPPA compliant use:
None; however, you should advise students not to sign in to free Zoom accounts, as these accounts store metadata about tool use on U.S. servers

Zoom Breakout Rooms

Interact with students using video, audio, text chatting, and screen sharing in web-conferencing sessions.

What are the benefits?

  • Zoom provides a real-time space to meet with students for interactive sessions.
  • You can use a feature called breakout rooms to meet privately with individual students or groups during general open office hours.
  • Zoom can display more video feeds at once than Collaborate Ultra, which is useful if you plan to meet with groups of four or more and want to see everyone.

Get started »

Individualized Messages

Individualized messages refer to communications that are tailored to specific students in the course. Typically, these messages provide feedback on learning outcomes.

General Tips

  • Student email addresses at UBC are considered private, which is why using one of these alternatives is recommended.
  • Reaching out to students in a personalized way can provide both motivation and reassurance for them while strengthening their learning.

canvas-logo

Cost for use:
None

Bandwidth demand:
Low (a slow Internet connection should not impact basic access)

Requirements for FIPPA compliant use:
None

Canvas Inbox

Message information in Canvas to individual students using an email-like format.

What are the benefits?

  • The Inbox is useful when you want a two-way communication channel for reaching your course’s students, as they can reply to it just like an email.
  • You and your students will also receive email notifications of new messages by default (unless you opt out).

Get started »


Cost for use:
None

Bandwidth demand:
Low (a slow Internet connection should not impact basic access)

Requirements for FIPPA compliant use:
None

OnTask Messages

Send targeted messages to groups of students meeting specific learning criteria (e.g., those performing well or poorly on a learning activity).

What are the benefits?

  • With OnTask, you can streamline and automate personalized feedback for students, even within large classes.
  • The messages you write can use outcomes from Canvas learning activities like assignments and assessments to give actionable next steps to students based on their performance.
  • Students receive your messages through the Canvas Inbox, so you don’t need external email addresses.

Get started »