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Parental observation in canvas complicated with three children!

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 Member

Thank you for your submission,  @trberta ​.

I can certainly see how having the courses listed alphabetically in your drop down course menu can be a bit overwhelming for an observing parent. But to help us understand your request more specifically, can you clarify a bit further as to what you'd like Canvas to do.

  • Would you want to filter courses by student from the list of courses (from the drop-down)?
  • Would you want the courses listed as "courses i'm observing" (instead of courses I'm taking) with a link next to the course for the student when clicking on the 'Grades' tab?

Looking forward to your thoughts.

Smiley Happy

Community Member

Both software packages our school system used last year filtered by student at the highest level, and provided no capability to look concurrently at grades or assignments for multiple students.  And that has always seemed reasonable to me. As parents our train of thought tends to focus on one child at a time.  e.g., "What does Jimmy have on his  plate?" or "Has Molly missed any assignments?".

I picture either a pull down selection of observable students included in the highest level menu, i.e. the "Inbox Settings Logout Help" menu, OR, a fourth button next to the Courses / Grades / Calendar buttons that provides the same functionality.  You could include in that pull-down an "All students" option so that your functionality would not change for other observer users.

If you had the "All" option, then the courses and grades list really need to be sorted by student.

The calendar is a different issue.  My calendar screen shows 18 different calendars and the calendar software limits to viewing 10 at a time.   I am a heavy user of Google Calendar, so your calendar format is very familiar to me.  But without a student-level filter, getting the right subset of classes for one student is a genuine pain.  (I just had a major brainstorm on using the Calendar Feed feature, but I'll save that for another submission).

Does that help?  I very much appreciate your responsiveness to this issue!  Your company has made a very very good first impression!

Community Member

I added a comment rather than replying to your comment (getting used to the system) so I thought I would reply just to be sure the system triggered an alert to you.

Community Member

Thanks for your clarification. We have moved this idea forward and it will be open for voting in the next voting cycle Smiley Happy

Community Member

To: Observers with multiple looks like this feature is up for a vote beginning Sep 2, 2015.  Ask your school administrators to send a brief email blitz to your school's families encouraging them to vote 'yes' for this feature!  Provide your school admin with sample verbiage for the invitation and a link to make voting 'yes' easy for families.

Canvas views for Observers with multiple students:

How does the voting process work for feature ideas?

This feature (i.e. "partitioned-views-by-student" for Observer accounts) has been on the requested feature list for quite awhile (at least from those of us who have several students in the same school).  It would be great if Observer-views-by-student could be filtered for the Courses, Assignments, Grades, and Calendar web forms.  The workaround of multiple logins isn't workable (far too 'clunky' as Randall described), and the workaround of trying to use an organization-wide standard naming convention (for, say, alphabetical grouping) does not work either.

Maybe if we try a grass-roots approach, it'll get into the feature development queue!

Community Member

Hi Cindy,

This feature would make Canvas far more usable for me (and other parents I spoke to). I'm not that well-versed in navigating these groups. Could you please confirm where we can vote? (I believe it's in the link below.) Do you know what the title will be called? And it will be posted 9/2, correct?

We have a parent-run Facebook page I can post to when the voting begins and I will also forward to the Admin in the hopes they will get behind this as well.

Thanks in advance,

Michelle Kosir

Community Member


Your ideas, for spreading the word for votes, sound great! I'm not

well-versed in the process either. I did find an info link here: How does

the voting process work for feature ideas?


And it looks like a field at the top of this idea thread (this thread

originally created by

<>) might open

on Sep 2nd for us to start voting (but I'm not sure)...? (I'll take

another look at it next week and post a navigation update. Once we figure

out the navigation when it opens next week, it'll be helpful to share with

our respective school communities as well.)



On Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 9:34 AM, <>

Community Member

 @fiefamily   and  @lmdmk96 ​

Yep, when voting opens, that 0

voting field.JPG

will get little up and down arrows next to it.

voting field open.JPG

You will be able to click one of the arrows to vote up or down.

voting field voted.JPG

Community Member

Same problem here, observing 2-kids, and I have no way of knowing which course is associated with which kid (twins, both take the similar classes).

Agreed that the common use-case for detailed review of classwork is to review one child at a time. That being said, I appreciate a single aggregate dashboard where I can scan for anomalies across all students before drilling down (although as an observer-only screen, this may be asking too much).

View features:

- Pull-down menu at top of screen to select student

- In all screens related to courses, the student's name should be persistently displayed in a common location

- Using numeric student ID is not acceptable as a field value for identifying students; use common name

- To the extent any universal view does exist (dashboard, message inbox?), each course entry/title/comment/message should be identified as associated with specific student (in my case initials would be adequate)

Community Member

This idea is now open for voting! 😉

Community Member

I would like to be able to see my children's schedules separately.  Also the fact that I can only see 10 course on the calendar doesn't help me with multiple children who are at two different schools. 

Community Member

Aimee...if you haven't already...sign-in, select this "Parental observation in canvas complicated..." idea thread, and vote (choose the <up> arrow) to get the feature added to the Instructure Dev Team's enhancement list!

Learner II

Thanks Cindy & Michelle for some great ideas about informing parents of this feature idea and marketing it to them so they will hopefully rock the vote. This is a real pain point for many K12 schools using Canvas now so I'll make sure to get the word out to our community and parents!

Let's do it.

Community Member

I have 4 children in two different schools.  Two of them are twins.  The class listing in "My Courses" and "Past Enrollment" looks like a jumbled mess.  The oldest two children are in high school so it's a bit easier to pick out their classes.  But, the twins are in middle school and in the same classes for the most part.  It took me a minute to figure it out, but it seems that the system lists the common classes that the twins are taking only once.  Kinda makes sense, but is confusing when I'm looking at the course listing with a child's name in mind.  The readability of this section (current and past courses) would go through the roof if the courses were segmented by child.

And yes, I voted.

Community Member

My parents have started to color code their kids courses on the dashboard if your school is using the new UI.  It's helping a lot with this situation; however, when they click view grades, the color coding goes away.

Community Member

Shannon - thanks for the tip regarding color-coding in the new UI dashboard.

Michelle - I have two children in the same course as well, and only one

course entry is displayed for both in the 'Courses' view. I abandoned use

of the 'Courses' view [because of the jumbled mess you mentioned, and lack

of unique identifier per child]. In my UI version (which looks the same as

it's looked the past two years, so obviously it's the old version), I use

the 'Grades' view as a workaround. Even though it's still jumbled, it *does

*display each of my children's names along with their course names.

On Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 9:41 AM, <

Community Member

I wholeheartedly agree with the parent observations regarding the difficulties of viewing multiple students.

I'd like to throw another idea into the mix from a Canvas administrator's viewpoint.  We are now beginning to use the assigned observer role for school staff.  There are roles such as advocates, mentors, IEP caseworkers, etc. who need the ability to view data on individual students, who do not need to see the same level of data for all students within the account.  Through the use of the assigned observer role, this becomes possible.  While we will be using the global observer role for parents, we will be using the assigned observer role (using observer enrollments) for these specialists (allows differentiation of permissions).  A student filter will be very helpful to these staff as well.

Community Member

There may be a more efficient navigation path for voting, but the below is one I found that works...

Any Canvas user (parents, staff, students, admin, teachers, etc.) can vote!

To vote:

> Log in to Canvas

> Select 'Help' (top right menu option)

Canvas_1. Select_Help.PNG

> Select 'Submit a Feature Idea' from the list presented

Canvas_2. Select_Submit a Feature Idea.PNG

> Copy this text - "Parental observation in Canvas complicated with three children" - paste into the "What are you looking for?" field, and press <enter>

> Select the idea entitled "Parental observation in Canvas complicated with three children!"

Canvas_3. Copy and Paste into Search field.PNG

> Click the <up> arrow to vote in favor of adding this feature to the Instructure Development Team list of enhancements!

Canvas_4. Vote.PNG


Thanks...and feel free to share with your school communities!

Community Member

 @fiefamily ​ - just note that users who are logging into the Canvas Community for the first time must follow a few more extra steps before going to the Canvas Feature Ideas​ space to search and vote.

Check out:

How do I log into the Community with my Canvas Account?

Community Member

Canvas is losing a massive market share to your competitors in the K-12 space simply because the parent interface is not nearly as good as other LMS's. Every major LMS has a parent portal.  Canvas's observer roll doesn't even compare to some of these.  Parents should be able to login, click on which of their child's courses they want to see, rather than have an overwhelming list of subjects that the student is enrolled in, to scroll through.  The first page that parents land on should be customizable, with grades (linked to the school's databases and not separate).