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In your online class, you can use our built-in mailbox system to send messages to your students.

The number next to the mailbox link tells you how many new or unread messages are waiting in your mailbox. It’s a good idea to check whether you have new messages whenever you log in.

Your mailbox is a closed messaging system - that is, it only serves to send messages to other people within the online class system. Although it functions much like regular email, you can’t send messages to someone’s Yahoo! account, for example, using this system. And you can’t receive emails from outside the system.

Mailbox Updates

Rich Text and media in the Mailbox

As of Summer 2019, all the tools for formatting text and including rich media are part of the Compose Message interface in the Mailbox.

New Message Alerts

A new tool (as of Spring 2015) will send you an email to let you know that you have new messages waiting in your Mailbox.

These alerts are turned ON by default — but, if you prefer, you can easily disable them by visiting your Mailbox page.

Messaging Your Entire Class

If you want to send a message to your whole class at once, the best approach is to go to your Roster. At the top of this page, you will find a button that says "Message All Students." (See screenshot, below.) When you click the button, a new message opens with all your students' usernames already entered into the recipients field.

Contacting students between semesters

Before the official start of a semester and after its official end date, you cannot use the “Select Recipients” option from the new message interface to address a message. This option only displays your class lists for the active semester. 

So if you want to send a message to a student from a past semester — or to students in a class that has not yet begun — you need to start on the Roster page for that class.

From there you can use the “Message All Students” button, or you can use the envelope icon to send a message to an individual student. 

Your Online Mailbox (tutorial)

Best Practices for the Mailbox

Your mailbox is not the only way to communicate with your students; in fact, most of your conversation in an online class should take place in the discussion area and not through this messaging system. Students will submit their assignments through the discussion, and you’ll all use the discussion for weekly conversations about relevant topics. The discussion also includes the Instructor’s Office, where students can ask questions about the class - and you can answer them.

(lightbulb) TIP: Steer Students to the Instructor’s Office (lightbulb)
Most instructors prefer to answer students’ questions in the Discussion, rather than through the messaging system, both because the Discussion offers more tools and because the information you post in a public topic in the Discussion can be seen by the whole class.

As you know, it’s not unusual for two or more students to have similar questions---and if they all ask their questions by email, you may have to answer the same question several times!

So when a student emails you with a course-related question that’s not a personal issue, ask that student to post the question to the Instructor’s Office — and then answer it quickly there. This way, all the students in the class can benefit from seeing your response to the question — and it saves from you having to answer the same questions over and over again.

You might also want to let students know — through one of the policy messages you’re posting — that you expect them to post all their course-related questions in your office.

So what purpose does the mailbox serve?

  • This messaging system is designed primarily for one-on-one conversation. So if you need to discuss something privately with one of your students - if, say a student has not been participating in the class discussion - you can use the messaging system to contact the student.
  • Similarly, students who have personal issues affecting their work might contact you using this same system.

Besides these limited purposes, it’s best to keep your interactions in the discussion as much as possible.


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