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Surveyor II

Adding Account Role - Building Principal

I am looking to add a new account role for our building level principals.

There are so many options and choices which leave me wondering. What do they need to see and what isn't necessary?

Has anyone add roles for their building principals and would be willing to share how you did it?

There is a chance maybe I am overthinking it. Should they just be added as Sub-account observers? 

7 Replies

Hi  @cdavitt ,

I'm tagging SHEBENE‌, who set this up for our 350+ schools, principals their sub accounts. I could probably pull it up, but would probably fail at explaining the rationales.


Hi Colin,

I'm fairly new to being a Canvas admin, so I hope what I say doesn't come off as ignorant (or just plain wrong!), but I have set up several additional account roles for individuals at our college who need specialized access based on their position. I'm guessing the actual permissions would be a bit different for building principals, but we do have a role I've titled "Academic Administrator" which primarily provides view access to our courses, grade information, and analytics, but generally restricts editing access when possible. We generally assign this role to academic deans who will want to spot check or evaluate their faculty as needed.

I considered whether or not to assign this role only to specific subaccounts or at the root account, and we went with assigning it at the root account simply because of the fluctuating nature of institutional organization. However, we do have some other more limited roles that we do assign to specific subaccounts instead.

I'd be happy to chat with you more in-depth and show you specifically what we have done if you'd like... feel free to send me a message and I'll help however I can.



Hello, as carroll-ccsd‌ mentioned, we have used this for our 365+ principals and their APs. How we set it up is that we created a "Staff Admin" role that is view everything. We also adjusted the "Account Admin" role if it's below the top level so that it doesn't have a couple things. We created a training for Canvas Controllers so each school could have 1-3 people with edit rights and the ability to make courses manually (which is off for the normal user). Then we set building admin up as "Staff Admin" so they can see all but edit nothing for their building (each school has its own sub account). We didn't want someone without training or admin approval to have edit rights to a school's environment. We also understood that with a district this large we couldn't really manage all of the potential day-to-day things they might want to do. This was our balance.

Additionally, if they have a Science Department chair that they want to have view access to all science courses, there is a sub account for each department in each school so they could assign that person "Staff Admin" access to just the Science Department and it would allow them to be able to look into any science course and help out. Likewise if a school wanted their counselors to have view access to their school they could assign them the same rights. It gave them ownership of that role to use as needed.

Let me know if you have questions about any of that. This is a pretty general overview.

Community Member

I know this post was from 2018, but others may find this so I am adding what I have learned with creating roles.

All are good ways to accomplish the task from the previous comments.


  1. When creating roles...test them, test them and test them again to make sure they are doing what you need them to do for all parties involved with that role.
    1. One thing I do recommend is to test the role by giving that role to someone and you both sit together and work through what the role will do with the rights you have assigned to that role. If you do not like something about the role permissions that is the time to make a change and test the role again.
    2. I like to know that if I give a role to someone and something gets "messed up" I can help support the issue. Otherwise, I may be spending more time fixing issues and not really saving time by issuing roles.
  2. Prior to assigning roles staff, admin, etc... have been trained.
    1. Our Canvas beginning training is consistent in our district: First an online self-paced course then a required F2F training where we cover: File structure, Modules (we love modules), Discussion, Assignment, and a Quiz.
  3. I have a "Guest Teacher" role (for contributing professionals like our LLSP's, ELL, Special Programs that are not the teacher of record but do help the students) for example they basically have a student like view and that role does not have editing rights BUT there is a hidden permission that you cannot change.
    1. In Settings they will have full teacher rights to all the tabs at the top: Course Details, Sections, Navigation, Apps, and Feature Options. Now the "Guest Teacher" most likely will not looking in that area. We do let them know not to edit in this section. All "Guest Teachers" complete a short online course from the students perspective prior to being added to a course.

If anyone has questions please ask. 


Thank you for sharing your insights!

Community Member


It may be easier to take this in a phone call.

I can help you get started.

I have Prin/AP roles in Canvas.

Send me an email at  if this options works for you.


Vicki Gaido

Can you share with me how you created the admin accounts, what permissions that you gave them, how you gave them access just to their teachers, Canvas?