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How do I navigate a Canvas course as an observer?

How do I navigate a Canvas course as an observer?

Navigating a Canvas course as an observer is simple.

Open Course

Open Course

In Global Navigation, click the Courses link [1], then click the name of the course [2].

View Canvas Interface

Observers can view Global Navigation, Course Navigation, Breadcrumb Navigation, Sidebar, and Help link.

  • The Global Navigation helps you get to where you want to go across all of your Canvas courses [1].
  • The Course Navigation helps you get to where you want to go within your canvas course [2].
  • The Breadcrumb Navigation shows you where you have navigated to inside of a course and gives you a quick and easy way to move backward [3].
  • The Sidebar will be mostly empty for Observers, but will come in handy when its time to edit a course Page [4].
  • The Help link is very important. When you need assistance from your instructor or the Canvas Support Team, click the Help link [5].

The Course Navigation links on the left side of your screen help you get to where you want to go inside of Canvas. As an Observer, you will see up to 11 links. They are:

  • Announcements
  • Assignments
  • Discussions
  • Pages
  • Files
  • Syllabus
  • Outcomes
  • Quizzes
  • Modules
  • Conferences
  • Collaborations


If you ever have trouble in Canvas and need to communicate with the Instructor about what you are looking at, use these terms and he or she will understand exactly what you mean.


how do i know when our kids submitted the assignment. Where should i go and check the status of the submission., 

I have the same question. How do I know what work they have submitted other than checking grades?

Hello @vjosep and @NurseTina,

When you view grades for a student in a course, you can click on an individual assignment link, which will open the assignment's Submission Details page and provide more information about when an assignment was submitted, feedback, grades, etc.


same question - when I open it there are no details and is blank

Hi @ibanurs

If you check out this Canvas Observer guide, you'll see how you can view submission details for your student's/students' assignments.  

Hopefully that helps! 

- Allie 

I have created an Observer account and can see my kid's name appear under Account/Observing/Students Being Observed. However, I don't see his courses listed under the Courses nor the Dashboard Tab?


We have heard from a few other users who may be experiencing the same thing. Could you use the Report a Problem link or otherwise reach out to Canvas Support so they can look into this further? This is the best way for them to keep you posted on a future fix if it is in fact a bug with the software.


These comments are posted to the global Canvas Community,

NOT your Canvas course.

  • Have a question about using Canvas? Visit the Q&A page.
  • Have an idea to improve Canvas? Visit the Idea Conversations space.
  • Need to reply to a course discussion? Log in to your Canvas course and add your comment there (Tip: Visit your school's website to log in to Canvas).
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