Observer/Parent Getting Started Resources
Below are some general questions and answers about Canvas, the Observer role, and links to resources to help you be comfortable with Canvas. Visit the Observer Guides to learn more.
What is Canvas?
Canvas is a Learning Management System. To learn more about Canvas terminology and definitions, visit How does Canvas define the terms used to describe its features and functions?
Because Canvas is a web-based system, it doesn’t need to be installed on your computer. However, you’ll want to make sure that your computer and web browser meet the basic requirements to run Canvas.
What is the Observer/Parent role?
In Canvas, the Observer role can be used to enroll parents, mentors, and guests who would like to participate in a Canvas course but do not need to earn course credit. Observers have limited permissions that allow them to see what is going on in a course without interrupting the flow of daily course communication. Like students, observers cannot view a course until it is published and the course has started.
Canvas for Elementary
Canvas for Elementary is a Canvas setting that displays a simplified interface and experience designed for younger learners.
For a visual representation of how to get started with Canvas as an observer, view the Getting Started with Canvas as an Observer Flowchart.
The Canvas Observer Guide has many articles that each answer a question that relates to using the Canvas interface as an observer. Each article also includes Next and Previous links so you can easily navigate to related content.
User Account Setup
Before you can do anything in Canvas, you'll need an account and the URL for your institution's Canvas website. View the articles below for help with setting up your account, logging in, and managing your user settings.
- How do I log in to Canvas as an observer?
- How do I sign up for a Canvas account as a parent?
- How do I create an account in the Canvas Parent app on my iOS device?
- How do I create an account in the Canvas Parent app on my Android device?
- How do I edit my profile in my user account as an observer?
- How do I change the settings in my user account as an observer?
- How do I manage my Canvas notification settings as an observer?
Pairing Code Overview
Pairing codes are six-digit codes that are used to link students to observers in Canvas.
Observer Pairing Overview
Once you have pairing code(s) for your student(s), you can link your account to theirs. Guides below include steps for linking accounts. Whether you are linking your Observer account to multiple students at once or you’re adding a new student to your existing account, you follow the same process.
Use QR Code to Log In
There’s a very simple way to log in to the Canvas Parent app. In the web version of Canvas, if you click the Account link in the Global Navigation menu, you’ll see a QR for Mobile Login link. After opening the Canvas Parent app on your mobile device, scan that code. You will be instantly logged-in, without having to worry about connecting to your school and retyping your information.
Once your account is set up, take a minute to familiarize yourself with the Canvas user interface. The articles below show you how to navigate Canvas and use a few of the tools that link across all your courses.
The main use of the Observer role is to link a user to a student. You can be linked to a student or multiple students and view the student's data in the course. Parents or guardians are often enrolled as observers and linked to students, especially in K12 environments. You cannot submit work on behalf of the students you observe, but you can see student grades, assignments and events, and course interactions. What is available in your course depends on what has been implemented by your student’s instructor.
View the articles below for some of the basics of Canvas courses.
- How do I navigate a Canvas course as an observer?
- How do I use the Course Activity Stream as an observer?
- How do I use the Course Home Page as an observer?
- How do I use the Syllabus as an observer?
- How do I view Assignments as an observer?
- How do I know if my student has submitted an assignment as an observer?
- How do I view the Grades page for a student as an observer?
- How do I view my student's grades in a current course?
- How do I view Discussions as an observer?
- How do I use Discussions Redesign as an observer?
- How do I view Quizzes as an observer?
- How do I use Conferences in a course as an observer?
- How do I edit a course page as an observer?
Learn more about Canvas features in the Canvas Basics Guide.
Canvas Parent App
- How do I use the Canvas Parent app on my iOS device?
- How do I set alerts for a student in the Canvas Parent app on my iOS device?
- How do I create a reminder for an assignment or event in the Canvas Parent app on my iOS device?
- How do I use the Canvas Parent app on my Android device?
- How do I set alerts for a student in the Canvas Parent app on my Android device?
- How do I create a reminder for an assignment or event in the Canvas Parent app on my Android device?
- Canvas Parent Mobile Features