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Make Custom Role Names visible in more parts of Canvas

Make Custom Role Names visible in more parts of Canvas


Our university receives role names from our SIS, and we've created corresponding custom roles in Canvas. This gives members of a course an accurate idea of everyone's roles. For example, it's important to differentiate between "Faculty" and "Faculty Assistant," even though they are both based on the Teacher role.

There are many places in Canvas, however, where the 'base role' name is reflected, as opposed to the custom role name, which adds unnecessary confusion for users of the platform. This feature idea is to represent custom role names in all areas of Canvas. Below are a few areas where roles are displayed inconsistently.

Thanks for considering this feature idea! If there are other areas I've forgotten, please feel free to add them in the comments and I'll try to keep the idea up to date! 

1. The Inbox

Users in the inbox are grouped by base role, which is helpful if, say, a student wants to message all of the teachers in the class. Most users are not familiar, however, with the concept of base roles and it would be much more useful if users were categorized by their actual course role names. To provide an example, we have a "Teaching Staff" role that uses the Teacher role as the base role; if a student were looking to message a member of the Teaching Staff through the inbox, they may not know whether they should look for that person in "Teachers" or "Teaching Assistants." It would be more consistent to just call Teaching Staff "Teaching Staff."


2. Prior Enrollments

Once users are concluded, only their base roles are displayed in the Prior Enrollments page. This is a real bummer because it's not possible to keep an accurate record of actual course roles through the UI once a course is concluded.


3. Enrollment details

If you're on the People page in a Canvas course, you will see a user's custom role name. If you click into their enrollment details, however, the base role name will display instead. 



4. Course Settings > Sections

The base role name is also displayed when you view enrollments via Course Settings > Sections. The information available on this page should be consistent with information available on the People page. 


Community Coach
Community Coach

Thank you for posting this Feature Idea.  I have voted it up.  I had made a request for the custom names to be reflected on the "Courses" >> "All Courses" screen, and they did that, but I was not aware of these other areas that you've pointed out.

Community Member

That was you! When I first noticed this awhile back, that was one of the places I had also noted and when I went back, I noticed it had been fixed -- thank you! 


This definitely needs sorting. I see it as a bug that is causing an inconsistent user experience, rather than something to be considered as a 'feature idea', but Instructure seem to see it differently. 

This issue makes it difficult see what users' actual roles are, and to differentiate between users with different roles that are based on the same base role.


My suggestion would be to change this so it shows both the custom role name and the base role name, e.g. "Enrolled as Custom Role (Base Role)". So, in the above example, it would say "Enrolled as Marker (TA)".

The other place that I am aware that this is occurs is (similarly to 3 above) in the Enrolments section of the user's global profile page (e.g.[user_id]). In this example, the user has a custom role called 'Marker' based on the TA role.


Note that I didn't find this idea when originally searching, so created new one here:, which is now obsolete.  


I should also add that Observer-based custom roles always show up as "Observing: nobody" in the People list. In the screenshot below, the user showing as "Observing: nobody" actually has a custom role called "Tutor", which is basically a read-only role.

Custom roles based on other base roles do show the correct custom role name in the People list, e.g. "Course Administrator" in the screenshot, which is a Teacher-based role.


Community Member

Many academic librarians are embedded into Canvas courses.  The "Librarian" is usually based on the TA role.  It would be extremely beneficial for students to see the option of "Librarians" in Canvas messaging to prevent any confusion.  It would also help students remember that they do indeed have a librarian in their course!   


This would be so beneficial for us since we have a variety of custom roles. It would be nice to see some of these as I look at people as an admin.


This is especially important if you have a Librarian or Guest Speaker and you've created this role (wit that name) but students see them listed in Conversations and the People page as Teacher or TA... you don't want a student asking for help from someone who may never respond to them because that person is not actually a TA or Teacher and cannot answer the student's question about quiz 3.

Community Member

Thanks for the support everyone! I just noticed this little idea has actually gotten a bit of traction -- feel free to share so we can maybe get some more interest going!

Surveyor II

This profile area is going to cause a large issue at our institution. We have so many support staff who are going to have difficulty troubleshooting without quickly and easily identifying course roles correctly. Training is just difficult with something so non-intuitive and seemingly randomly inconsistent. It also causes so much unneccesary alarm to see someone listed as a teacher who isn't. I second the transparency in the "Custom Role [base role]" monicker, or some similar way (a clickable more-info button that displays the base role?).