jdecker
New Member

What percent of parents are signing up to observe students in your instance of Canvas?

Hey everyone,

What percent of parents are you are seeing sign up for a parent account to observe their student(s)? If you have a high percentage of parents doing this, I would love to hear about your strategy to help make that happen...

Thanks!

Josh

20 Replies
kbeimfohr
Advocate

We did not start the school year with this feature enabled.  Therefore we have been playing catch-up all year long.  We hope to have a better plan for the next school year.  A few of our goals for the district include:

  • Each teacher will demonstrate how they will be using Canvas with their students at "Back-to-School Night."
  • Kiosks will be available in classrooms/hallways with student ambassadors to assist with parents creating accounts at "Back-to-School Night."
  • Encourage our teachers to post all announcements/resources for parents in their Canvas course, and NOT just e-mail it to them.
  • Hold Parent Tech Nights at the district level to inform parents about the LMS and other district technology resources available to them.
  • Send out phone/text messages to parents to encourage them to sign up.

With these strategies, I am optimistic that our numbers will increase dramatically our second year.

Thanks kbeimfohr​ for the excellent ideas Smiley Happy. I really like the kiosk option at back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences...a lot of our Canvas users are Chromebook classrooms and we could easily turn any number of them into public kiosk devices in a couple of minutes that would open right up to our Canvas login where a parent could sign up right then and there (and then with ongoing encouragement for parents we hopefully will see a larger percent join and be active observers)...

I appreciate you taking the time to collaborate.

Josh

Kyle,

I'm interesting in finding out how you are handling parent accounts who are also teachers?  We have many teachers in our district who are also parent's, we are creating the accounts for them provided they have an email address listed in our SIS.  Most of these parents are using their work email address which is almost like their kids address for the district.

Has anyone come across this?

Than you.

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SHEBENE
Community Champion

Thus far we have put a link for district employees that shows up if you click the parent account link. They click on that and it points to "...instructure.com/profile/observees" which makes them login to Canvas. Once they login they are on the "Observing" link of personal settings which they couldn't see before (back way to get in) and they can just add all their students there, one at a time.

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sara_chai
Community Contributor

Josh,

We've had parents logging in with students to see how they are doing, but not an easy high success of parent observers.  Parents are having a rough time "figuring" it out.  It hasn't helped that the views are (slightly) different depending on platform / mobile device.  I'm working on making it slightly more of an ease of use next year, but the observer feature is something I need to still figure out better.

sara_chai
Community Contributor

Also, I just found out one student can only have ONE observer account.  This is NOT good for students with multiple households (two parents - divorced, separated, etc.).  They have to log in with the same observer account.  It is not easy.

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I've had multiple observers of one student. I'm not sure if that was upgraded since you tested it or not. I was looking at this about 4 - 6 months ago.

I remember now, after they add one student they need to go to their personal settings --> "Observing" and then they can add additional students there. I made a global announcement to the "observer" role that tells them how to add additional students.

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We also have multiple parents, caregivers, etc. observing students

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Canvas does allow a student to have multiple observers linked to them.

aburge
New Member

I was hoping to get parents in on the discussions.  I found out that isn't an option.  If we are trying to increase parent involvement, I think that would be a good feature to add.

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I may be wrong, but I believe parents can be allowed to participate in discussions if your Canvas administrator enables that feature in the account or sub-account where the parents are enrolled.

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marthazumack
Community Contributor

You can indeed allow Observers to post in discussions. This feature can be enabled under the Course Roles Permissions setting (seeHow do I set permissions for a course-level role in an account? ).​ The feature to enable is "Post to Discussions."

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Do you allow your parent observers to post to discussions  @marthazumack ​?

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Parents are not permitted to 'interact' with the course in anyway.  They can only observe what their children are doing.  In fact, we believe it would be a violation of FERPA for parents to see the discussion contributions of students other their own children, so we have disabled discussions for parents.  The challenge there is that the Announcements permissions are the same as Discussions, so if you disable discussions, you also disable Announcements for parents.  We have brought this to Instructure's attention and they are working on a fix now.

We agree that parents cannot post to discussions with other students.  That's a FERPA issue.  Canvas will eventually separate the permission for Announcements and Discussions so that you can allow parents to receive Announcements without the ability to participate in Discussions. So for now both are off for us.

Hi Amy, parents can be in discussions if your Canvas admin modifies their permissions. However, this would give them access to read all of the student's discussion posts in the course and interact with them. We feel like this would not comply with FERPA laws so we have discussions restricted only to students and teachers in the course.

S9300807
Community Contributor

We import Parent as Observers from our student information system so that their Canvas Account is the same as the account for our District login.

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joseph_allen
Community Champion

We didn't leave sign up to chance.... Since we collect emergency contact information for every student / child in our district, we simply used that same parent data to enroll them in Canvas and connect them to their children as observers.   The one issue we ran into was that when a parent / observer is enrolled in a course, it sends them an email notification.  So if you have 3 kids, taking 8 classes each, the parent gets 24 emails.  You want to turn this off before enrolling parents. 

clong
Coach Emeritus

I just checked and 20% of our parents have signed up to observe a student using the self registration link on our Canvas login page. I have to say, it's not always a great experience for them, especially if they have more than one student that they wish to observe. While Canvas does allow for this, all of the classes go into the parent's dashboard and streams. It quickly becomes confusing for them as to which assignment or notification is for which child.

Because of this, we actually try to steer parents away from using Canvas as an observer and encourage them to sign up for our Portal through our SIS. Our portal uses the Canvas API to pull in assignments and grades and it allows them to easily filter by child so there is no confusion. We also encourage parents to sit down with their children and look over their shoulder as they use Canvas. Let them "drive" and ask questions. Like "show me what you are working on in Biology" or "what assignments are due this week?" I think this yields better results than looking at Canvas when they are not with you. Smiley Wink