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GSE Information Technology

Canvas: Policies & Procedures

Access To Canvas

All users must have an active PennKey to access Canvas. Please note that course sites are not automatically created on Canvas and not all courses have a Canvas site. Students unable to login to Canvas, or those not seeing courses in which they are enrolled, should first check with their instructors to verify that a course site has been requested/created.

Instructors should request Canvas course sites using our online form:

Adding Users to Courses

Students, TAs, Instructors and Co-Instructors are added to Canvas courses through the University's Student Record System (SRS). These enrollments are updated once every 24 hours. If you discover that students are not being added properly, enrollments are missing, or if you would like to add a student officially auditing a course to a Canvas site, please contact the GSE Student Records Office at

Individuals who are not officially enrolled in a course through SRS can only be added to Canvas sites as Observers. Instructors may request Observer access by contacting GSE IT. The following is a list of what an Observer role can do in Canvas:

  • Observers can see a list of Assignments due and click on their titles, but cannot submit Assignments.
  • Observers can preview and download Files unless an Instructor has locked the file/folder.
  • Observers can download documents to their computer and see the edit history for any course Page.
  • Observers can see Quiz titles, but cannot take Quizzes.
  • Observers can post to course Discussions.
  • Observers can see how an Instructor has organized course content in Modules. They can also see the point values for individual assignments. Observers can click on any of these links, but they won't be able to submit Assignments, or take Quizzes.
  • Observers can see all Assignments due on the Calendar, filter the calendar view by the different courses they are enrolled in, view undated events and assignments, and even grab an iCal feed from the global Calendar.
  • Observers can only send messages to Instructors. They cannot send messages to Students in the course.
  • Observers will not be able to see the names of enrolled Students.