We are a k12 district. This is our second year using Canvas. Our first year we did not allow parent access to give teachers time to learn to use Canvas and develop their content/courses.
This year we are piloting the parent_app with a small group of teachers/parents/students.
With the Parent App, parents are able to create their accounts and pair with (currently) one student via the App (NOTE: hope the app is updated soon so parents can pair with more students). Parents who create their accounts via the App and pair with their child get access to ALL the courses in which that student is enrolled. We like the Parent App because it limits parents' view to student progress (grades, feedback), and not all of the course content. However, a few parents cannot use the App for various reasons: vision, they can't download apps (limited to a work phone), or other.
For those parents who could not use the app, we are piloting manually creating their accounts (this requires creating the account; enrolling the parent in a course as an Observer; and then pairing the parent with the student in that course). Manually creating parent accounts also give them web access, and with web access, they can see the entire course content. However, you can limit which courses since you have to enroll them in each course -- in this case we could enroll them only in the Pilot course; but imagine having to enroll them in more courses and pairing...
Even though I've turned off every single Observer permission (the only one that is checked/ON is: Announcements - view), the manually created Parent account using the Observer Role will see the entire course content (except Quiz questions). For us this is a problem -- we would like to reduce helicoptering over teachers in Canvas. We would like the Web access version for parents to parallel the Parent App experience. PLUS, it would be nice if teachers could selectively make certain content (Pages) visible to parents.
We still want the original Observer role for staff like Special Ed teachers, Monitors, or assistants whose role it is to assist specific students. But we really need Canvas to create another role_for_parents.
ADDED NOTE: For districts who like the Observer role for Parents (with a completely open view of the entirety of the course when in the web browser), they could continue using the Observer Role and not use the "Parent Role" (for lack of a better term)