Parental observation in canvas complicated with three children!

  This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas


  Idea will be open for vote Wed. September 2, 2015 - Wed. December 2, 2015  Learn more about voting...

We have three children at the same high school.  We have registered as Canvas observers, and added all three children to our watch list. With 8 class periods, that's 24 potential classes to watch, and they appear to be listed ALPHABETICALLY, without an obvious way to filter by student, or clearly identify which student is taking which class.


Our three children have very different learning styles and levels of achievement, which demand three very different levels of observation.  Our temporary workaround will be very "clunky" (an old technical term meaning not user-friendly).  We are going to have to set up three separate parental accounts, using three separate parent email addresses, and observe one student in each account.


I am excited about using your system and at first blush it seems to have a number of advantages over MyBigCampus that we used last year.  However, if we can't look at one student at a time, or somehow sort things differently, it could be a frustrating year.  Can you help us?




  Comments from Instructure

May 2016 Update:

Please find more info at Canvas Studio: Canvas Parent

Community Contributor

I've had a go at doing this myself.  It's not perfect, but works:

Parents requested this at my school - multiple students 

Community Novice

How can you have marked this "completed"? I can't switch between my 2 kids, and it is 2018! 

This is a HUGE issue for watching students.

Also, why can't you just have a "hide" button on the "Observing" tab? I don't even want to see my high school senior grades, only my struggling 9th grader.

- K

Community Team
Community Team

Hi  @kristen5  -

The reason this particular Feature Idea was marked "Complete" was due to the development and release of Canvas Parent. While it does not have all of the features as the Observer role you can access through a browser, it is a great solution for getting to the main elements - assignments, daily work, and reminders. My favorite part is the ability to easily switch between students.

I understand completely where you're coming from. With multiple students, the browser experience is clunky. However, there are ways to get around some of that. I wrote a blog about it last fall with some tips: A Letter To Canvas Observers‌. In the meantime, I hope that you vote on and add some comments. Your use-case will help this idea move forward and catch the eye of the development team. If you have any questions about How does the feature idea process works, let me know! Smiley Happy

Community Novice


What do you mean you can “switch easily between students”?

I am using Canvas on a browser on my computer and I cannot do that. What is “Canvas Parent”?



Community Team
Community Team

With the Canvas Parent (a free app in the Apple Store and on Google Play), an Observer can only view the courses or alerts tied to one student at any given time. This guide will walk you through the different elements of the app, but the first illustration will show you where you can select a student. From any screen, you can swipe between students to update your view.

Community Participant

I created a script to to at least clean up and organize the students grades on the observer view.


if you were to click view grades all of the grades would be jumbled up all the kids would be intertwined and if there was a course that was ungraded(like a counselor course or club) it would show up as well. so the script gets rid of the ungraded courses and alphabetizes the rest of the courses.


function sortGradesObservers() {
  const checkIfNull = async selector => {
    while (document.querySelector(selector) === null) {
      await new Promise(resolve => requestAnimationFrame(resolve));
    return document.querySelector(selector);

  checkIfNull("table.course_details.observer_grades").then(() => {"observer"),window.location.pathname.includes("/grades"));
    if (
      ENV.current_user_roles.includes("observer") &&
    ) {
        let table,
        table = document.querySelector("table.course_details.observer_grades");
        percentColumn = document.querySelectorAll("td.percent");
        percentColumn.forEach(one => {
          if (one.innerText === "no grade") {
   = "none";
        switching = true;
        while (switching) {
          switching = false;
          rows = table.rows;
          for (i = 0; i < rows.length; i++) {
            shouldSwitch = false;
            thisRow = rows[i].querySelectorAll("td")[0];
            if (i !== rows.length - 1) {
              nextRow = rows[i + 1].querySelectorAll("td")[0];
            if (
              thisRow.innerText.toLowerCase() > nextRow.innerText.toLowerCase()
            ) {
              shouldSwitch = true;
          if (shouldSwitch) {
            rows[i].parentNode.insertBefore(rows[i + 1], rows[i]);
            switching = true;
      // set up the mutation observer
Community Novice

Well, I’m appreciate that someone got proactive and tackled this little problem!

This was a bit of a trip down memory lane however. All three of my kids have graduated from high school! I don’t remember exactly when I posted this comment but they may have all been in middle school or very early high school at the time.

There’s still lots of big families that will appreciate your work!


Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

 @jsimon3 ‌, would you be willing to post your solution as a standalone resource (a discussion, perhaps) in the Canvas Developers‌ group? This will allow it to surface in search results and will bring it wider visibility. Thanks!

Community Participant


Community Novice

 It is hard to believe this basic fundamental feature is still not available here at the end of 2019 in the web client.


I do see a student selection dropdown now in Calendar, but no selection dropdown in Dashboard or Courses where it is needed just as much.  Preferably, you would just add a filter in the main navigation somehow to show "All Data" "Student A" "Student B" "Student C" etc.  not a dropdown on each page, but I'd take anything for this now, INCLUDING JUST SORTING BY STUDENT FIRST.  


My general reaction as a parent is... the web client is 80% right and needs a few tweaks like this one, the Android client is 33% right and needs a lot of work... I know you want to put your development dollars to work smartly, but leaving simple things like this undone for years leaves a bad taste.  


Please push this up your priority list, minor implementation cost, huge productivity gain for parents/observers of more than 1 student.