ITS Online

#209 The Observer Role in Canvas

January 14, 2014

The Observer role in Canvas can be used for auditors and guests who would like to view a Canvas course without receiving credit.  During the Add/Drop period, students can view course sites through myCourses.  If a Canvas course is selected, the student will be added as an Observer for 24 hours.*


*Students added as an Observer during the Add/drop period are automatically removed within 24 hours after they access the course.  They are listed on the People page with the role “Observing:nobody”.


Once added to a course in Canvas, Observers can view certain aspects of the course but cannot fully participate.  Basically, Observers can view and download course content, but can’t post or submit content. 

Observers can:

  • View the recent activity dashboard
  • Read Announcements
  • Read Discussions
  • View the Assignments page
  • Preview and Download unlocked files from the Files tool
  • View the Syllabus page
  • View the Modules page
  • View the Quizzes page
  • View the Course Calendar


Observers cannot:

  • Submit Assignments
  • Take Quizzes
  • Comment on Announcements
  • Reply to Discussions


For a more extensive list on what Observers can and cannot do, please visit this Canvas Guide.

Latest News

  • Image preview
    As an instructor, you can verify all external links throughout your course to ensure they are valid. You can check these links using the course link validator, which searches through course content and returns invalid or unresponsive external links in both published and unpublished content.
  • Image preview
    Join us Friday, January 22 at noon in Gittis 213 to learn how you can get started using Poll Everywhere. This solution is available to all Penn Law faculty and staff for unlimited polls.