Providing Perspective

Community Coach
Community Coach
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Parent and Student checking Canvas

In May of 2017, a small group of families from DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota was invited to provide feedback and to talk about the Canvas Parent App. During these meetings, Canvas administrators were able to gather great user-stories and adjust the way in which Canvas Parent was supported. Additionally, a list of "best practices" was compiled and shared with teaching faculty.


During this interview, Greg Mattson, parent of a freshman at DelaSalle, explained how the app is a window into the academic balancing act his freshman student has to maintain. Calvin is a great student who is also invested in many school-sponsored activities. Canvas Parent has made it possible for Greg stay connected and to receive communications with Calvin's teachers more efficiently.

“Canvas Parent provides perspective, even when teachers don’t directly communicate about classroom progress.”

Before Canvas, Greg could ask Calvin about his day, but he would get short answers. Greg shared, “now that I have ‘the answers’ at my fingertips, I really do look for them. I’m able to look for changes in course grades, in one quick glance, and then I can initiate a bigger conversation with my son.”

Most students won’t necessarily bring up their grades to parents, but parents deserve to know what’s happening at school. One feature, in particular, simplifies this task for Greg. “The week at a glance allows me to encourage and remind Calvin to set aside the appropriate time for studying and to set goals with him rather than waiting until there is an issue.” Greg feels involved without feeling he’s overbearing.

“The term ‘mobile’ is about getting information quickly. The app does just that. It’s convenient, and it allows me to be proactive with Calvin’s schoolwork.”

Greg likes how conversations about school work can be more casual There's not a specific time that these conversations take place because he and Calvin always have their smartphones on them. Greg likes that these conversations can happen anywhere and that they don’t have to huddle around a desktop or a pile of textbooks. They can talk about a specific assignment, and share varying perspectives based on their apps. He does, however, hope that submission details and teacher feedback will make it to Canvas Parent soon so he can gain more context to Calvin’s assignment scores.

Greg also shared how he appreciated it when coaches for sports and activities utilized Canvas for communication and organizational purposes. Students and parents are already in Canvas, so it makes a lot of sense to meet them where they already are. The consistency allows families to plan ahead and maximize time at home for activities, studying, and other commitments.


I love that there is a change in a parent child relationship based on good communication, which the parent app totally helps foster! I really wish something like this would have been around when I was in K-12. Having a parent in "the know" about your grades and classes takes away that "fear factor" that comes with "have you done your homework yet?". Parents and kids can have a conversation on the same level because the work is common knowledge.  Thank You  for sharing,!

Community Member this is a nice piece you wrote.  I think you captured the thoughts of many parents who are using the app, and hopefully we can use this to show those parents who haven't yet used the Canvas Parent app how it can really help them understand what is going on in with their kids education.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Thanks! Canvas Parent has been a great resource to offer our families. It was so wonderful to hear the positive experiences that come as a result of technology. Smiley Happy

Community Coach
Community Coach

Deactivated user I agree completely. When Canvas makes things so transparent, it makes it so much easier to collaborate and to discuss the learning taking place. As a teacher, I love seeing families coming together to set learning goals.

Adventurer III

Great post‌! You mentioned developing a list of 'best practices' to share with teaching staff. Is that something that can be shared out to the Canvas Community?

About the Author
I hold an M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction - Learning Technologies from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. Teaching degree in Art Teaching from Winona State University. Currently, I have multiple roles at DeLasalle High School - Teacher & Canvas Engagement Specialist. I teach a variety of visual arts classes, and I prioritize problem-solving and reflection within my student-centered environments. It is my goal to blend traditional studio experiences with technology applications for communication, collaboration, and organization. In addition to teaching, I actively participate on the Technology Committee, am a Canvas Co-Admin, am the lead in-house Canvas trainer, and as the Canvas Engagement Specialist, I work with faculty to advance pedagogy and student engagement through thoughtful course design using visual design and Canvas's tools. Twitter: @kblundstrum