What can Observers do in a Canvas course?

In Canvas, the Observer role can be used to enroll Parents, Mentors, Auditors, and Guests who would like to participate in a Canvas course but do not need to earn course credit. Observers have limited permissions that allow them to see what is going on in a course without interrupting the flow of daily course communication. Like students, Observers cannot view a course until it is published and the course has started.

This lesson will take Observers through the Course Navigation links and summarize what kinds of activities they can and cannot participate in.

Observers Can See the Dashboard

Observers Can See the Dashboard

When they first log in, Observers will see the Global Stream in their Dashboard.

Observers Can Read Announcements and Discussions

Observers can read student replies to course Announcements and Discussions and see student profile images (if available), but they cannot add their own comments.

Observers Can See the Assignments Page

Observers can see a list of Assignments due and click on their titles, but...

Observers Can't Submit Assignments

Observers Can't Submit Assignments

...Observers cannot submit Assignments. There is no submission button on this Assignment detail page.

Observers Can Preview Documents in Course Pages

Observers Can Preview Documents in Course Pages

Observers can download documents to their computer and see the edit history for any course Page.

Observers Can Edit Some Pages

Observers Can Edit Some Pages

If the Instructor changes the permission of a Page so that Anyone can edit it, then Observers can contribute to course Pages.

Observers Can Preview and Download Some Files

If an Instructor locks a folder in course Files, Observers will not be able to view the content.

Observers Can See the Syllabus Page

Observers can see the Syllabus page [1]. They can also see how the final grade is calculated [2].

Observers Can See the Outcomes Page

Observers Can See the Outcomes Page

Observers can see all course Outcomes and Outcome descriptions.

Note: If the course navigation link does not appear, the instructor has hidden the link from course users.

Observers Can See the Quizzes Page

Observers Can See the Quizzes Page

Observers can see Quiz titles, but...

Observers Cannot Take Quizzes

Observers Cannot Take Quizzes

...Observers cannot take Quizzes. Note that there is no link to "Take this Quiz".

Observers Can See the Modules Page

Observers Can See the Modules Page

Observers can see how an Instructor has organized course content in Modules. They can also see the point values for individual assignments. Again, Observers can click on any of these links, but they won't be able to participate in Discussions, submit Assignments, or take Quizzes.

Observers Can Join Conferences

Once an Instructor has created a Conference, added an Observer, and started the meeting, Observers will be able to join in.

Observers Can't Join Course Groups

Instructors and students can create groups inside of Canvas that make it easy to collaborate in smaller groups. Observers cannot be added to or interact inside of Groups.

Observers Can See the Global Assignments Page

From the Global Navigation Menu, Observers can click on Assignments to see a summary page of all assignments due across all of the courses they are enrolled in.

Observers Can't See Grades

Observers Can't See Grades

From the Global Navigation Menu, if an Observer clicks on Grades, they will see a blank page, unless they are linked to a student.

Observers Can See the Calendar

Observers can see all Assignments due on the Calendar, filter the calendar view by the different courses they are enrolled in, view undated events and assignments, and even grab an iCal feed from the global Calendar.

Observers Can Access Conversations

Observers Can Access Conversations

Observers can click on the Inbox link to access Conversations, but...

Observers Can't Send Messages to Students

Observers can send messages to only Instructors. They cannot send messages to Students in the course.

Observers Can't See Course Rosters

Observers will not be able to see the names of enrolled Students or their Registered Services (i.e. links to Facebook, LinkedIn, and other web services).

Observers Will Not be Able to Access Some Pages in Canvas

Observers Will Not be Able to Access Some Pages in Canvas

The permissions assigned to Observers are limited. They may see this screen once if they click to a page that they do not have permissions to access.

Course Navigation Links May be Modified

Course Navigation Links May be Modified

PLEASE NOTE: Each Instructor can customize the links in the Course Navigation and limit the number of features that Students and Observers can see. Observers may or may not see links to all of the features discussed in this lesson.

Observers Can't See Unpublished Courses

Observers Can't See Unpublished Courses

Like students, Observers cannot view a course until it is published and the course has started.

(Optional) Lesson Feedback (0)

Please let us know if any information in this lesson appears to be incorrect in terms of Canvas functionality only (please do not submit feature requests here). This is not a help site, and submitted comments cannot be answered. If your Canvas course/account is having trouble completing any of the tasks outlined in this lesson, please contact Canvas Support by submitting a HELP TICKET via the Help Link within Canvas or emailing support@instructure.com. Thank you.

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