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Community Participant

Messaging Observers of Students in Canvas

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Hi All,

We've put together a script here at Strath to allow us to send messages to the observers of students from the Canvas Inbox (Conversations) and Marksbook ('Message Students Who...') pages. We're a K-12 institution, so while the ability to send messages to students who have not submitted their assignments is awesome, sometimes we need to let their parents know too! It looks a little something like this:


It's pretty simple. The script inserts some buttons on the 'Message Students Who...' and Inbox 'Send Message' buttons for inserting observers and removing students. Once clicked, the script does a few API calls in the background to determine who the observers of the students are and pops them in the recipient list.

Our CSM mentioned this might be something that other institutions might be interested in, so I've made the script and some instructions available here:

If you decide to give it a crack, I'd be interested to hear how it goes! I've tested this with a demo Canvas instance and it's worked ok, but that's the extent of my testing.

All the best!


Download v0.07 Here:



Version 0.07 on 17/04/20

  • Fixed issue where conversations (Inbox) recipients would become invalid after a recipient was removed.

Version 0.06 on 11/10/17

  • Added support for courses with more than one hundred enrolments.

Version 0.05 on 07/07/17

  • Added auto tick "Send an individual message to each recipient" function. This behaviour is active by default, but can be disabled in the msgobs options.

Version 0.04 on 06/07/17

  • Fixed issue where multiple course enrolment lookups were made for the same course in account admin mode.

Version 0.03 on 03/07/17

  • Added support for any kind of group in the recipient list.

Version 0.02 on 15/03/17

  • Fixed issue with unescaped message content.
  • Prevented clicking Remove Students while Include observers function is running.
  • Added dialog to preserve message content if sending fails in Gradebook function.

Version 0.01 on 20/09/16

  • Initial Release
45 Replies
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Hey @Steve_25. Just thought you would be interested in some feedback. I added the javascript file last Thursday and this is one of my teachers comments to me:

I wanted to share with you how much I like the feature of being able to email parent observers from the assignments section of the gradebook!  I saw the feature this weekend, and immediately used it to copy parents on the weekly "missing work" emails I send my students. Much to my delight, I have had great (student) response--both in terms of work completion and in terms of communication today!  I'd say it is a definite success!

I don't know if you get a lot of feedback, but I thought I would share. KUDOS to the work you are doing with this script.


Hi everyone, just added this script to our Instance but saw a couple of weird oddities. @Steve_25 @joseph_allen  have either of you seen this? 


by default in the Inbox, the  Send an individual message to all is checked as default. This has caused havoc on inbox messages. 

For example: 

  1. the Initial inbox message sent to multiple people sends an individual email only
    1. However,  When adding to that original sent message those others who should have been on the original message NOW everyone gets all the messages


Any insight would be great.  We are not using Tamper, just straigth uploading in Themes Java. 

Screen Shot 2021-02-26 at 10.03.18 AM.png

Community Participant

Hi all,

MSGOBS Version 1.01 is now available here with the following fixes:

  • Re-written for ES2020 and a slightly improved lookup speed.
  • Fixed issue where students on gradebook with the same name could not be distinguished between.
  • Fixed issue where that occurred when replying to a messages as a user with some admin privileges, but not all. In this scenario, MSGOBS now asks the user to select a course for observer lookup.
  • Fixed issue with colour highlighting of observers after the insert observers button was pressed for a second time.
  • Added warning message for replies in conversations that will create a group messages for all recipients.
  • Added Observer and Student removal counts to success messages.
  • Changed conversations behaviour as an admin sending a message. MSGOBS now asks the user to select a course for the observer lookup, rather than trying all enrolments for the user (which took a long time).

Unfortunately I wasn't able to build in New Analytics, for for that overzealous promise, I am sorry. I didn't notice that the New Analytics LTI is hosted on a different domain which means that browser security features prevent the script from accessing what it needs. I'll keep an eye on it in the future.

@don_lourcey1 Thanks for the feedback Don, I'm truly glad to hear about this positive effect!

@christopher_gil I'm afraid that is the expected behaviour, as replies in conversations always create group messages rather than individual messages (the 'send individual checkboxes' element doesn't exist on a reply). Your feedback though inspired me to put a warning in for the teacher when they choose to include observers on a reply message. I'll address this problem further in a future update.

EDIT: 1.01 fixes issue with Safari web browser. 

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Thanks for the update and looking into my comment! 



Community Participant

MSGOBS Version 1.02 is now available here with the following fixes:
- Fixed issue with gradebook 'Scored less than' or 'Scored more than' options not showing any students.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Hi @Steve_25  rookie question here, but do I need to remove our script and install new one?