The Canvas course site created for each course offering at Harvard is an important tool for teaching—whether in classrooms or online. Many instructors already use these sites to share the syllabus for their courses, and possibly as a place to collect assignments or circulate readings. In a situation in which you need to make changes to your course's instructional practices, Canvas can be an extremely useful means through which to communicate changes, coordinate lecture or sections, promote discussions, collect student work, provide feedback, share materials, etc.
Using Canvas for Course Communications / Logistics
When teaching remotely, the Canvas Calendar can become a valuable tool with which to keep your class organized. Just as you would do, share, and collect things during specific class meetings, you can use the Canvas Calendar to organize course components. In the calendar, you can create an event to share class materials (synchronously or asynchronously), and you can use the interface to create an assignment shell which can then be filled out in the assignment interface. Assignments can be used to collect materials (such as evidence of section work) that will stand-in for course components that might have taken place in person.
Canvas has a variety of tools for communication. The Course Emailer, Conversations, and Announcements are likely the most helpful for coordinating with your students. (There are other tools, discussed elsewhere, that are more helpful for promoting discussion.) If you would like to message your class or a class section but would like your correspondence to be sent through your email (which means that responses would come to your inbox), you will want to use Canvas’ Course Emailer. Although the messaging will take place in your email, you will need to use Canvas for the initial email. Canvas also provides a messaging system within Canvas called Conversations. You and the students can use this system within Canvas for many types of communication. Announcements are meant to be a way to communicate with students about the logistics of your course. They will be shared with students based upon their notification preferences.