When Covid hit and everything moved online we started using Microsoft Teams with our classes. Our school district settled on Zoom, but Teams works better for us.
Something I’ve discovered though is that students tend to struggle with chatting directly with me. Not the actual chatting part, but finding the right collection of clicks to open up their first chat with me.
That’s why it’s great that I came across this page earlier today. Turns out you can create a direct link that students can follow to privately chat with you outside of the normal channels.
If you put that link, replacing the email address with your actual email address it’ll send students directly to your chat. I did this for an online test this morning and have gotten probably 3 times as many students asking me questions during the exam as I normally do. I’d consider that a good improvement. All it took was a message like “I’ll be in Teams if you need anything” linked to that URL.
Adding the link to the Canvas sidebar
Next step is going to be creating a link in the side menu in Canvas to make it easier to get in touch while they’re working on labs and stuff.
Adding the app
In your Canvas course click on the Settings menu option and then the Apps tab. What you’re looking for in an app called Redirect. Easiest way to find it it to start typing Redirect into the search box and it should show up.
The title isn’t there, which makes it a little wonky to find. Look for the curved blue arrow.
If you don’t see it, it’s possible that your Canvas admin hasn’t installed it.
Click on the curved blue arrow and it should pop change to something like this.
Here you want to click on the blue App App button
Next up you should get a little pop up modal that looks like this.
You can call it whatever you want. I named mine MS Teams Chat. And you’ll want to paste the URL from above into the URL redirect field, remembering to change it to your email address.
Since it’s an external link I checked the box next to Force open in new tab. Otherwise Canvas hiccups with the link.
And you’ll want to check the box next to Show in Course Navigation so that it’ll show up there.
Click the blue Add App button and you should be set. Might have to refresh your page though to see it.
Moving the link
Your link is probably going to be at the bottom of the course navigation menu. If you click on the Navigation tab in settings you should be able to drag and drop it where ever you want it. I like it near the top to make it easy to find.
And that’s it.
And as a bonus hint, you can use the redirect tool as many times as you want to create external links for the sidebar. I have this one to chat with me an another to the recurring meeting that we do in Teams for lessons. But you really could use it for any link that you want in the side menu.
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