Why should I email my class from CUNYfirst?

CUNYfirst is used to perform two important tasks for a class:

But did you know that CUNYfirst can also be used to send notifications to your students by email? In some situations, emailing your class from CUNYfirst can be easier and more effective than other means. Emailing through CUNYfirst gives you quick access to a comma-delimited list of your students’ emails, which you can use to send email using your preferred email client. And the CUNYfirst emailing interface allows you to  customize the subject header (somewhat possible in Blackboard) and add recipients who are not in your class (impossible in Blackboard).

Here’s how to use CUNYfirst to email your class:

From the Faculty Center, browse to my schedule and select a class. This will take you to the class roster page for that class, which contains a table listing all enrolled students. You will see a checkbox for each student in the second column, to select or unselect students.

Scroll to the bottom of the class roster page, where you will find two buttons:

  • Use notify selected students to send an email to a subset of the class.
  • Use notify all students to email the entire class (without having to select them all).

The emails used are the emails of record in CUNYfirst. You will be able to see whether they are Queens College emails, emails from the student’s previous institution, or personal email addresses.

By default, CUNYfirst sends the email to you and as a BCC to your students. This ensures you get a copy of the communication, and prevents students from using “reply all” and inadvertently emailing everyone in the class.

If you prefer to be in full control of the email (maybe you want to attach a file, or use special formatting), just copy the email addresses and use them in your preferred email client:  Click notify all students, find the BCC box listing all your students’ emails, select all emails (ctrl+A) and copy (ctrl+C).

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8 comments to Why should I email my class from CUNYfirst?

  • Amy David

    I just tried the email from CUNYfirst, and while it does work as described, an oddity or two was noted. The email does not identify the course as in Bb, although one could incorporate that manually into the subject line. The second is more troublesome: the bcc to students is ALSO a bcc to the professor sending the email. Therefore, one is left with a generic message sent to ? student(s) in ? class. Disappointing.

    • Eva Fernández

      Those two liabilities are correct. It’s definitely not a perfect system! If you want a record of who got BCC-ed in an email from you, you should send the email directly from your email client.

  • @Lewis: It is usually best to inform students who may either be new or just getting used to using CUNY FIRST to go into the system and change their contact information. You can also pass around in your class a sign-up sheet where students put the email that they check often for announcements.

  • @Lewis: CUNYfirst email addresses are updated once a week, so there should be fewer bounce backs from invalid emails. Students have to claim their CUNYfirst accounts with QC emails, and they’re not given an option to replace it with Yahoo, Gmail, etc. In Blackboard however, they can change their emails, so if they don’t update them when they transfer from another CUNY college, they won’t get your emails. So, to answer your question, yes, for the most part, emailing from CUNYfirst is a workaround. Then again, some students never check their QC email, so…

  • Eva Fernández

    @Juan: CUNYfirst isn’t very mobile-friendly, you’re absolutely right. You can save yourself some clicks by adding the Faculty Center to “My Links”. (Browse to the Faculty Center, and look for the “ADD TO MY LINKS” button on the right in the light blue band on the top of the page.)

  • Esther Muehlbauer

    Very helpful! Thanks!

  • Juan

    Is there an way to send a message from a mobile device? Using CUNYFirst to do something like this requires digging down about five levels and that almost never works on a mobile device.

  • Lewis Cook

    Any possibility this could be used to bypass a persistent problem with e-mailing of announcements posted on Blackboard to enrolled students — i.e. messages bounced from invalid addresses for (typically) 3 or 4 students in a class of 20 to 25? (I assume not — some students always seem to have invalid email addresses even though they are ‘in the system.’)