In Canvas, the Observer role can be used to enroll parents, mentors, 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.
To learn more about the observer role, view the Parent Registration and Student Observation video.
Observers may be able to view assignments, course events, and grades for a student in the Canvas Parent app. For more information about course-level user permissions, view the Canvas Course Permissions PDF.
Observers can view course data but cannot participate in all Canvas areas. Observers may be added to a course to observe course data. For instance, instructors sometimes invite guests to join their courses, such as for a web conference. Enrolling the guest with an observer role allows access to the course without being able to affect any course data or participation.
The main use of the observer role is to link a user to a student. Observers can be linked to a student or multiple students and view the student's data in the course. Parents are often enrolled as observers and linked to students, especially in K12 environments. Observers cannot submit work on behalf of the students they observe, but they can see student grades, assignments and events, and course interactions.
Depending on the institution, observers can have different levels of access. Observers can be linked to a single student or multiple students. These links can be at the account or course levels.
To learn more about observer participation, view the Observers Visibility and Participation PDF.