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UW-Superior Canvas Course Access Guidelines

This guide explains how the UW-Superior Canvas Team manages access to Canvas courses, coordinates this access with instructors, and accesses courses when providing technical support.

This guide includes the following sections:

  1. Guidelines for Canvas Course Access
  2. How to Access Someone Else's Course or Past Canvas Courses Taught by a Different Instructor
  3. How the Canvas Team Accesses Canvas Courses for Help and Support Requests


The UW-Superior Canvas Team frequently answers requests for access to past Canvas courses or courses taught by a different instructor. We respond to these requests in a consistent way that aims to:

  • Prioritize the agency of the instructor of record / course owner
  • Respect instructors' intellectual property
  • Maintain trusting relationships with instructors
  • Minimize risks to the university by ensuring FERPA compliance and user privacy
  • Source all the information the Canvas Team needs provide timely and accurate support

The Canvas Team currently consists of the Markwood CLIC Director, a Canvas Administrator (whose access and responsibilities are designated by UW System), a backup crossed-trained administrator, and instructional designers. Support requests sent to the Canvas Team route to all of these personnel.

Terminology Used on this Page

Please keep the following definitions in mind when referencing this guide:

  • Access: In these guidelines, access means adding a person to someone else’s Canvas course with an appropriate course-level role. People typically request access to someone else’s course in order to help prepare their own Canvas course or for the purpose of a formal investigation on behalf of the Dean of Academic Affairs.
  • Course Owner: This refers to the person that designed, taught, or is teaching a course in Canvas. For scheduled timetable classes, the course owner is the instructor of record, the person assigned to teach that class in E-Hive. Canvas Administrators must obtain permission from the Canvas course owner before providing another person access to that course or course design.
  • Permission: The Canvas Team needs written permission to grant an instructor access to someone else’s course. This permission ideally would come directly from the course owner / instructors of record, but in their absence (due to separation from the university or extended periods off contract), department chairpersons can provide this permission on their behalf.
  • Teacher Reviewer role: In Canvas, users can be added to a course with a number of different roles—such as Student, Teacher, or TA—that control what they can see or do in the course. People added with the Teacher Reviewer role can see everything in a Canvas course and export content, but cannot make any changes. While the name of this role may suggest “review,” it is not evaluative in nature and is used for any situation when a person needs to visit a course without making changes. (When sharing your course with other instructors, we recommend using this role—not the Teacher role.)

Guidelines for Canvas Access

People reach out the Canvas Team often to ask for access to someone else’s course. The scenarios below describe some of the common reasons for these requests and how the Canvas Team addresses each.

“I want to add another instructor to my course.”

Anyone enrolled as Teacher in a Canvas course can add another user to that course using the People tool. Instructors can do this themselves without approval or assistance from a Canvas administrator.

Please don’t add visitors using the Teacher role; that role should be reserved exclusively for the instructor of record. Instead, use one of the other available roles that best match the needs of the course visitor, such as Teacher Reviewer or Facilitator.

Known Issues

Neither instructors nor Canvas administrators can add people to timetable courses using the Student role. Students will automatically be enrolled in these courses by E-Hive.

Also, you may not be able to add users to a past course after about a year has passed. If you encounter this issue, please email the Canvas Team for assistance.

“I want to access someone else’s course.”

If you want to access another instructor’s course—often for the purposes of copying content to prepare for an upcoming class—please contact them directly. If they’re willing to share their course design with you, they can then do so using either of these options:

  • Add You as Teacher Reviewer: Instructors can add another user to that course using the People tool. The Teacher Reviewer role will allow you to export content, import content from this course into your own, and view the entire course without making any changes.
  • Export Their Course Design: Instructors can export their course design as a file they can download. You can then share export files with other instructors so they can import it into their courses. We recommend using Microsoft OneDrive to share large export files.

If the owner of a course is no longer available—such as instructors that are retired, off contract, or out of the office for an extended period of time—please contact your department chair for approval. The Canvas Team can then help provide you with the approved access. This workflow requires timely communication and advance planning to be effective.

“I need to access an instructor’s course for a review or investigation.”

Please see the Dean of Academic Affairs’ Protocol for Accessing Canvas for an Incident Report Investigation, which was created with input from the Canvas Team.

“I hired a new instructor and need to provide them content for their Canvas course.”

Department chairs and program coordinators often reach out to the Canvas team to assist new instructors that need help preparing their courses in Canvas. For example, an adjunct instructor may need to see how your department has previously taught a specific course, or may need access to a departmental course template or “master course.”

If your department uses standardized course templates or “master courses”, please coordinate with new instructors to either (1) enroll them as Teacher Reviewer in those template courses. This will allow the new instructor to import part or all of that course design into their own Canvas course.

If you don’t have shared course templates, please use the following workflows:

  1. If the previous course instructor is available (on-contract, currently employed), chairs should request the previous instructor add the new instructor to their course with the Teacher Reviewer role. This will allow the new instructor to import part or all of that course design into their own Canvas course.
  2. If the previous instructor is no longer available and the chair does not have access to a recent version of the course, the chairperson should email with the previous course’s 4-digit E-Hive Class Number. Please let the Canvas team know if the incoming instructor needs a sandbox for developing their course.
Special Notes for Onboarding Adjunct Instructors

Please keep the following guidelines in mind as you discuss sharing course designs with adjunct instructors:

  • Ask previous instructors to add the adjunct instructor to their course, using the Teacher Reviewer role, so they can import the appropriate content into their own course.
  • Encourage adjunct instructors to review any course provided to them and update it for the upcoming term.
    • Course templates and master courses need revision and preparation to be ready to teach. This typically means updating the course Welcome page, adding a new syllabus, and updating the Canvas assignment due dates (because they’re unique to each term).
    • Please don’t discuss departmental templates and master courses as if they are complete, or as if the adjunct instructor needs to know very little about Canvas.
  • Don’t ask adjunct instructors to contact the Canvas team for access to a course. Adjunct instructors often don’t know what specific information to provide and should be routing their requests through their department.
  • Don’t ask the Canvas team for the Canvas course from “the last time someone taught this course.” There are many sections of any given course in Canvas, including both online and face-to-face versions. Please request a specific four-digit Class Number.

How the Canvas Team Accesses Canvas Courses for Help and Support Requests

When an instructor or student reaches out to the Canvas Team about a specific course in Canvas, we need to view your course in order to help.

Instructor Requests

If an instructor reaches out about an issue in their course, we’ll typically ask the instructor to meet and share their screen. This is the fastest and least intrusive method for troubleshooting.

However, if the instructor doesn’t respond to a screen sharing request or isn’t available, we may add an Instructional Designer to the course using the Teacher Reviewer role to troubleshoot. We will notify the instructor via email and remove the Instructional Designer from the course once their work is complete. Our staff won’t make any changes to the course unless requested to do so, and if we notice a problem, we’ll reach out to the instructor to discuss how to fix the issue together.

Student Requests

Students should always contact their instructor if they notice an issue in their Canvas course, are confused about the course design, or need help.

If the instructor doesn’t know how to help, students can access Canvas Support 24/7 by clicking the Help button in Canvas.

If Canvas Support can’t fix the issue, they will contact the UW-Superior Canvas Team. We will then need to view your Canvas course in order to troubleshoot further. We will contact the course instructor before making any changes and advise the student on how to proceed.

This page was last updated prior to the Fall 2023 semester.

Keywordsadministration sharing collaboration   Doc ID130662
OwnerMichael M.GroupUW Superior
Created2023-08-28 11:46:31Updated2023-10-13 13:41:46
SitesUW Superior
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