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What do the different course roles do?

FSU's version of Canvas provides a variety of roles for users within course and organization sites. This article will provide a quick summary of each course role, which it can do, and who is generally assigned it. You may encounter users with the following course roles in an FSU Canvas course:


Students will make up the bulk of any course or organization site. They are usually undergraduates or non-teaching graduate students, but may also be faculty and staff in non-leadership roles within organization and group sites.

Students in live course sites are usually automatically enrolled from registrar data, but can also be manually enrolled in some circumstances. In some cases, such as discussions, student activity can be restricted beyond the abilities listed below.

Students can:

  • View accessible course content and announcements (published items)
  • Send messages to other users in a course
  • View the course roster on the People page
  • Post and view discussions
  • Create student collaborations
  • Create web conferences


Teachers are usually people in a leadership role in a course or organization site. Teachers will be the instructor of record or the primary instructor for the course. Users with the Teacher role have the most expansive permissions within a course site outside of Canvas administrators.

They are able to freely edit course content, view grades and student information, and remove non-student users (such as TAs, designers, or other teachers) from the course site. In cross-listed courses, Teachers will have access to all sections. Teachers are unable to do the following:

  • Generate observer pairing codes for students
  • Add/remove students from the course (this is something only FSU ODL Technical Support staff can do)


Admin/Staff and Teachers are identical in terms of what they can and cannot do within course sites. Users that require latitude within a course site but are not explicitly instructors (such as program staff or department administrators) are provided the Admin/Staff role to differentiate them from teaching staff and faculty.


The TA role is essentially a less permissive version of the Teacher role and is usually assigned to teaching assistants, graders, or other instructional support staff within a course site.

Unlike teachers, TAs are associated with a particular section in cross-listed courses and can only do instructional work in that section. TAs who need to work with multiple sections will either need to be separately assigned to each section, or given full Teacher permissions. TAs can do many of the things that Teachers can do, with a few exceptions. TAs cannot:

  • Make changes or grade work from other non-assigned sections
  • Add/delete/edit Alerts
  • Add or remove users from courses, including teachers, TAs, and designers
  • View the audit trail for course grades

Course Designers

The Course Designer role is intended for staff who need to put together course content and structure for their departments. Oftentimes, this will be instructional technologists or other similar staff who do not warrant full Admin permissions.

Designers have full permissions when it comes to editing course content, but are not able to interact with student data at all. Designers have many of the same permissions as Teachers, but cannot:

  • Add/view/edit Alerts
  • View page analytics
  • Send messages to the entire class
  • Select final grades for moderated assignments
  • View audit trail for grades
  • Edit grades
  • Moderate grades
  • View all grades
  • Read SIS data
  • Generate user pairing codes for students
  • Add/remove users
  • View user log-in IDs
  • View user emails


Observers are users who are assigned to a particular student in order to monitor their progress through a course. The role is commonly assigned to academic observers in athletic departments, or other one-on-one tutors.

Observers can see whatever the student they are paired with can see, but Observers are not able to make changes or edits to that student's work or content. They are also able to view announcements and discussions.

PASS Leader

The Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) runs a program to encourage student success. The PASS Leader program requires that ACE get permission from course instructors to enroll students who have been selected to serve as PASS Leaders into a course site with the intention to assist in the facilitating learning. PASS Leaders help students succeed by arranging review sessions, tutoring sessions, etc. PASS Leaders cannot access course content that is not already accessible to all students.

Learn more about the PASS Leader role.

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  • 29-Aug-2018