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What is the Course Emailer?

The Course Emailer can be used to send email to an entire class or a class section using your default email client (like Outlook) instead of the built-in messaging system in Canvas. The Course Emailer also displays the individual email addresses of class members.

This tool may be a good option for teaching staff who are more comfortable communicating via email or who want to keep all of their correspondence within their own email client.

An example of the mailing list format is canvas-1234-56789@coursemail.harvard.edu which includes the Canvas course ID from the site’s URL (e.g. 1234) and the Canvas section ID which is the unique identifier for the mailing list (e.g. 56789).  

    

 

Who can use the Course Emailer?

When the Course Emailer is added to a Canvas site, mailing lists will be created automatically -- one mailing list for the entire course and one for each section, if any sections exist. When teaching staff send an email to any of the mailing lists, the message will be delivered to all members of that list. List membership is automactically updated to reflect any changes in enrollment. If new sections are created for the course, new section mailing lists will be created automatically as well.

Only teaching staff and course admins can access the Course Emailer within Canvas, and they will see it as an item in the left-hand navigation if it’s installed for their course. There, teaching staff can initiate emails and can set permissions for each of the lists. The permissions determine who can send emails to that particular list. The current options are:

  • Staff Access - For staff to email members of this course; students and guests cannot send or reply to this mailing list.

  • Course Access - For all members of this course to email each other; students and guests can send and reply to this mailing list.

  • Section Access - For members of this section and all staff to email each other; students and guests in this section can send and reply to this mailing list.
  • World Access - Anyone can send and reply to the mailing list.

  • Disabled - The mailing list is disabled.

These options can be changed at any time for each list using the gear icon.

Emails sent to mailing lists must be sent from a user’s default email address in Canvas. The user's default email address in Canvas is the official Harvard email address unless it is changed in Canvas.

Notes on permissions

  • Students cannot see the Course Emailer in the Canvas navigation.

  • However, if the mailing list address is shared with students (for example posted on a Canvas page or if the teaching staff have sent an email to the list) and the permissions for that list have been set to either “Course Access,” "Section Access," or “World Access,” students will be able to send emails to that mailing list. The "Staff Access" setting allows only teaching staff to be able to send to the list.

  • If the “World Access” setting is selected, anyone who knows the mailing list address can send emails to that mailing list. This setting is useful if the instructor wants people who are not part of the class list to be able to reply or post to the list, for example guest lecturers or visitors who are not Harvard affiliates.

How do teaching staff email the entire course?

To email the entire course, click on the blue link next to the "Course Mailing List" header; a window will open in the user's default email client (e.g. Outlook) with the mailing list address in the "To" field.  Teaching staff can also copy the mailing list address that is displayed and paste it into an email.  

 The format for this main mailing list address is canvas-xxxx@coursemail.harvard.edu where xxxx is the Canvas course ID from the course URL, e.g.: https://canvas.harvard.edu/courses/xxxx/

How do teaching staff change the global settings for all section email lists?

Teaching staff may change how section email lists behave by selecting one of two radio buttons:

  • Selecting “Any email sent to a section will be delivered to members of that section and to all staff in the course” will cause any email sent to a section email list to be copied to all teaching staff in the course, even if the staff are not enrolled in the section being emailed.
  • Selecting “Email sent to a section will be delivered only to members of that section” will cause any email sent to a section email list to only be sent to members of that section. Teaching staff will not see the email unless they are enrolled in the section the email is sent to.

Regardless of which setting is selected, the sender of an email automatically receives a copy of the email in order to confirm it was delivered successfully.

How do teaching staff email course sections?

Mailing lists are created for any sections that are created with the Manage Sections tool or with the Student Information System (SIS) (e.g. My.Harvard). To email one of these sections, click the tab that says "Email Specific Sections." Please note this tab will only appear if the course has been sectioned. The Course Emailer will specify which sections have been created with Manage Sections, and which have been created with the SIS. To email a specific section, click the blue “Email” button that corresponds to that section.

Teaching staff can also copy the mailing list address that is displayed and paste it into an email.

 

How do teaching staff email registrar enrollments?

This feature may be particularly useful for cross-listed or jointly offered courses. This tab will house the mailing lists for any sections that are sent to us in the Registrar's feed. If, for example, the course is jointly offered between FAS and HDS, this feature may be used to email only the HDS students, or only the FAS students. Please note this tab will only appear if there is more than one registrar-fed section.

Teaching staff can also copy the mailing list address that is displayed and paste it into an email.


What happens when an unauthorized user tries to send an email to the mailing list?

If someone tries to send an email to mailing list that they do not have permission to send to, they will receive a bounce-back email stating that message wasn't delivered.  Please check out our Course Emailer Troubleshooting Tips for more information about the error messages people may receive.

What do I do if I receive an error when attempting to email the class list?

If you receive a bounce-back email with the subject line "Undeliverable mail," please check out our Course Emailer Troubleshooting Tips for possible solutions.

Where do teaching staff see the individual email addresses of class members?

Underneath the title of the mailing list, there is a clickable link that tells you how many members belong to the list. Clicking this link takes you to a new page where the email address is listed for each member.

Additional details about the Course Emailer

  • Since the tool is completely separate from the Canvas messaging system, emails sent using the Course Emailer will not be shown in the Canvas Inbox.
  • The default permission setting that each mailing list is set to when the mailing list is created is “Course Access.”
  • The mailing list format includes the Canvas course ID from the site’s URL and the Canvas section ID, which is the unique identifier for the mailing list, for example canvas-1234-5678@coursemail.harvard.edu.
  • Once a course is concluded, emails cannot be sent to/received from Course Emailer mailing lists.
  • Class members who send email through the tool will now automatically receive a copy of their email in order to confirm it was delivered successfully.

  • The tool now instantly reflects changes to course and section enrollments made in Manage Sections and Manage People.  As soon as a user has been added or removed from a course or section, they will immediately be added or removed from that course’s email list.

  • Users can now include multiple course or section mailing list addresses in the “to” field in the same email.

  • Teaching staff in cross-listed or jointly-offered courses are now able to send mail to a single mailing list that contains the combined enrollment from all cross listed courses and sections for their course.

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