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Communication Tools and Descriptions

Communication Tool
Common Uses
Intructor to Student
Student to Student
How to Set It Up
Announcements forum Send announcements to the entire class Yes No Pre-loaded in every course container
  • Posts are diplsayed in the Announcements forum in the course, in the Forum Posts section of My Courses dashboard, and are emailed to all enrolled users (not right away - around the top of the hour)
  • Only Instructors can post in this type of forum
  • Use Display Period settings for delayed release
  • If users click "Reply" to the email sent, the response will be sent directly to the instructor's CSUSM email

Online office hours

Group planning

Q&A sessions

Yes Yes Created via "Add an activity or resource"
  • Real-time, text only
  • Sessions can be saved and shared
  • Can be set to groups
  • May be one-time or repeating

Online office hours

Online presentations/discussions

Group planning

Yes Yes

Created via "Add an activity or resource"

Any CSUSM student, faculty, or staff can create meetings directly through Zoom (

  • May be one-time or continously open
  • Allows for webcam video, audio, chat, and desktop sharing
  • Can be recorded
  • Can invite non-CSUSM users to meeting
Messages Private text messages between users within Cougar Courses Yes Yes

Click on Course Dashboard link below the linked Table of Contents at the top of your course. 

Select Participants.

On Participants page, check boxes in front of the users to message, at the bottom of the page for "With selected users" choose"Send a message"

  • Cannot add attachments
  • Messages display on the My Courses dashboard, and the notifications icon (bell) at the top right of the course. Each user’s notification settings determine whether messages also send an email.

Online discussions

Group planning

Share documents/projects

Private journals


Yes Depends Created via "Add an activity or resource"
  • Can be open to the whole class or limited to smaller groups, including just 1 student per group (for private journals)
  • To use groups, must first set up groups (Administration > Users > Groups)
  • Subscription options: Optional (students can opt-in to receive email notifications of posts), Auto (students are automatically opted-in, but can later opt-out of email notifications), Forced (students cannot opt-out of email notifications), and disabled (no email notifications).
  • Instructor replies to posts are not private (unless just 1 student per group)