Does Canvas allow faculty to track students online?

By | January 13, 2021
montage of computer monitor, camera, phone, eye, question marks
(U-M Dearborn News/Violet Dashi)

Learning management systems like Canvas allow faculty to see some student activity. But UM-Dearborn’s Coordinator of Digital Education Chris Casey says it’s far from being a surveillance system.

The rumor he hears most often is that faculty can see if students open other browser tabs or websites outside of Canvas. “This one is definitely false,” Casey says, noting that Canvas doesn’t have that capability.

However, faculty can see some kinds of video viewing activity in Canvas. If it’s a YouTube link, for example, the instructor can’t see which students have watched it. “But if they use the integrated video system in Canvas to, say, post a lecture, faculty can see which students have viewed it, how much of the video they watched, and if they rewatched a video,” Casey says.

The other big myth he often hears is that faculty can see if students have posted on Chegg, an educational technology website students have been known to use to cheat on assignments and exams. But Casey says Canvas does not allow faculty to directly correlate a student account with a student’s Chegg account.