When I do professional development sessions about online learning, I'm always surprised at the number of faculty who are not aware that there is an easy way to email students right from the grade book. Before we get into the how, let's talk about why this is such an incredibly useful feature.
Regardless of your teaching philosophy, there is a useful application for this feature. Here are a few of my favorites:
I note attendance for my on campus and synchronous video classes in the LMS grade book after each class session. After recording attendance for those classes in the LMS grade book, you can email students who missed class with a reminder to check the LMS for their assignments and information about what they missed.
After the deadline for an assignment passes, look for those students who did extremely well on the assignment. Send them a note recognizing their hard work and effort. This is particularly important if you note that a student has made a positive change in the quality of their work over a few assignments. Some institutions also have student success systems that allow you to send Kudos to the student which are also seen by the advisor. This is a nice option as well but often involves logging into another system. Doing this on your own from the grade book is a nice option for more frequent feedback.
If you want to help students manage deadlines, you can email students who have not yet submitted an assignment the night before it is due and remind them that they are coming up on their last change to submit.
I like to look at the overall pattern of student work. If I see a student who is consistently turning in assignments late or a student who is submitting assignments that don't meet expectations, I'll message them and encourage them to visit office hours, utilize tutoring resources, or offer other options of student support. This is another case where your college or university may have a secondary student success system where this kind of referral would be better placed. Unlike the kudos, this type of alert about success should almost always be placed in that secondary student success system.
In most LMS systems, using the Email feature from the gradebook is as simple as clicking a checkbox or a drop down menu. Here are helpful instructions from each of the major LMS providers on how to use this feature:
Reply in a comment with other ideas of how you use this feature.