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User Activity and Analytics reports for Instructors: Exclude Masquerade activity

User Activity and Analytics reports for Instructors: Exclude Masquerade activity

@For federal and state financial aid reasons, we need very accurate reporting of user activity.  It appears that the activity performed by an admin while masquerading is showing up on the user access report for the course and for the user activity on the people page, which are the places that faculty look to determine the last date of attendance for an  course. We know that Canvas Data has been released, but accurate user activity history needs to be in the hands of faculty as part of the normal business practice of reporting grades and last dates of attendance.


This idea is specifically to exclude any activity performed while masquerading from reports that instructors see, as well as provide easy access of information to admins about who performed these actions. 


Reports for Faculty

We are concerned because the reports that faculty see in the courses currently show any activity done while an admin masquerades as a user as the user's activity.  You can see the examples of this below in the screenshots.


As you can see below, it specifically states that this information would record as the admin performed them and not as the user. This essentially negates the usefulness of the “masquerade as user” functionality since it would adversely affect the user activity record and therefore the information that we report to auditing authorities.



In the documentation at How do I masquerade as a user in an account?, it states that:


While you are masquerading, you can act like the user. You will see what the user sees, but the audit reports will show that you performed those tasks and not the actual user.


These course-level reports are the only way that faculty can get a last date of attendance and this isn't accurately displaying since it looks like the student did this. I was chatting with support and he said that "You will see the mark when they begin masquerading in the users account on the user page views with a /masquerade."


However, these audit logs are only available to Instructure support and not to the Instructors or even institution admins.


After reviewing this information with some help from our next level support we were able to determine the documentation saying that we(instructure) would be able to check our logs and see who did the masquerading and that it was not the students but the person masquerading. Unfortunately this is not associated with reports that are run by the institution. It is in the wording of the documentation that the confusion can be made. when it says You can take any action as though you are the user but the audit logs will show that you performed the tasks while masquerading. This you is referring to Instructure. Your desire for the logs to reflect correctly the masquerading is a great idea and I would love to have you input a feature request for this here:


User report of last activity on People page (prior to masquerading):



After masquerading:





Reports for Admins

Additionally, we would like to request that the “Page Views” area on the users screen for admins by default exclude any masquerade activity.  This activity can be downloaded in the CSV file and is irrelevant in almost any case that we would be researching, or at least make it VERY obvious who performed this action.



Please note that I spoke with two support agents yesterday who told me that the audit logs are available only to instructure support and not institution admins but it looks like this information is shown on the CSV file download on the Page Views screen for admins.

Community Contributor

Part of me really doesn't want the masqueraded items in the page views but the other part does especially since it would be the proof that someone else was in the "student's shoes" (so to speak). So I really like the idea of a marker in the Page Views that makes it clear an item is a masquerade activity/item. It would also be great if on hover (or download) it gave user information for who did the masquerading.

Community Contributor

Hi Deactivated user​ - Do you have an update on your comment from 3/24/16 where you said, "Canvas Data now captures the real_user_id in the requests data (page views).  Any reports using Canvas Data can make use of this, which enables you to filter out masqueraded activity.  In addition, we plan to surface this when we redo the existing Canvas reports and dashboards (date: TBD)."

What is the status of redoing Canvas reports and dashboards? Has this already taken place? If not, do you have a timeline? Here is what I'm looking for:

  • I need to know if faculty there is a way a teacher can tell if a student's activity was the actual student vs. an admin masquerading as the student. For example, when a teacher looks at an access report for a student, will there be an indication that that page was from an admin masquerading?
  • Also, when an admin go to a user's account details and looks at page views, will there be an indication of the page was via masquerading? Will this be in the UI and/or the csv file?

Does anyone have an update on the idea that  @millerjm ​ initiated (Nov. 10, 2015)? Thanks.

Community Champion

Hey  @Sylvia_Ami ​​:

Chris's comment about Canvas Data is the only response from Instructure to this feature request.

To address your specific questions...Faculty/Teachers have no way to tell if the student's activity was the actual student vs. an admin masquerading.

Admin masquerading activity is not excluded nor indicated on anything except for the CSV file that can be downloaded on User Account Details by an administrator.  There is a field on the CSV file for real_user_id which will indicate who took the action on behalf of the user.  Otherwise, it is in Canvas Data, which is also not accessible by instructors. 

This is a huge problem and instructors are not given the entire story when viewing the page view information. 

Community Contributor

Thank you  @millerjm ​.  I just tested this out and came to the same conclusion. Since your initial post and most of the activity in this discussion was several months ago, I was hoping that an update had occurred since then but not so. Until improvements are made on the data in the UI, admins will have to look at the Page Views csv file each time a student's activity is in question.

We have three colleges in our district and we are all in one Canvas instance. We have a few people at each college with admin access. I'm very nervous about that since anyone could masquerade as another user without the others knowing. Teachers will not be able to rely solely on the data they see on the People page (Last Activity column) and Page Views. Like many others who have responded in this discussion, teachers need accurate data available to them. Our immediate need is accurate user activity data in order to determine student's activity and Last Data of Attendance (LDA) for federal reporting purposes.

One consolation is that if an admin masquerades as a student and goes to course #1, it doesn't not affect the data a teacher sees in course #2.

Community Champion

 @Sylvia_Ami ​, I would suggest having a conversation with your CSM about this and let them know about the importance of accuracy for this data for federal reporting purposes.  It's obviously important to many institutions since my idea got 131 votes...

Community Team
Community Team
  Idea is currently in Product Radar Learn more about this stage...
Community Team
Community Team

In the Canvas Beta Release Notes (2017-11-06) there is a section titled Act as User Audit Log Message.

The new message states

In the Act as User page, the page description includes clarification that audit logs record information about any user who acts as another user: However, audit logs record that you were the one who performed the actions on behalf of this user.

 @millerjm ‌

I'm particularly interested to hear if "However, audit logs record that you were the one who performed the actions on behalf of this user." meets your needs?

Community Champion

Hi  @Renee_Carney ‌, no, this doesn't really take care of this problem.  Thanks for checking. If a staff member or Canvas support logs in as the student and clicks on their class, then the instructor would see that the student logged in to the class and created activity, even though the LOGS show that it was done by an admin.  The instructor never sees that this action was performed by anyone other than the student, which is still a huge problem.   


Community Champion

I agree with  @millerjm  instructors can't see audit logs.  We try to always be careful and not do anything in Masquerade that would affect the instructor's view of student activity (using Test or Beta environments whenever possible for example, or only masquerading as a student who's visited the class recently), but it would be much better if such activity were marked in access reports. 

(Would be great if instructors could see audit logs for activity in their own classes, but even then would be better if access reports showed that certain actions were done by masquerade activity.)


Why has this still not been addressed? 

Community Contributor

I'd like to know the status of this Exclude Masquerade Activity feature idea by  @millerjm ‌. It was put on product radar in October 2016 but is there any more recent news?

Community Member

We were just having this conversation as well. Any updates Instructure?

Community Team
Community Team

The Radar idea stage has been removed from the Feature Idea Process.  You can read more about why in the blog post Adaptation: Feature Idea Process Changes.


This change will only impact the stage sort of this idea and will not change how it is voted on or how it is considered during prioritization activities.  This change will streamline the list of ideas 'open for voting', making it easier for you to see the true top voted ideas in one sort, here.

Community Champion

For this idea, please also remember to follow:

 The first step to getting Granular Permissions was completed with the Permissions: New Interface.

Community Participant

It is also an issue when you have to share that pen marked report with a Department of Education Auditor. This request absolutely gets my upvote! Thanks for your work on this.

Community Member

I haven't seen a recent post on this topic.  Has there been any progress, does not seem like it.