IDEA Courseware Team Support
Online assistance for Canvas and Learning Tools from Wharton Computing

Providing memberships to users in Canvas (including user roles)

Access to Canvas for University faculty, students and staff is through PennKey. The University Registrar requests that faculty avoid assigning the Student role manually.

Quick steps:

  • On People, click +People and choose the "PennKey" option.
  • Type one or more PennKey usernames you'll be adding to the same role in your course.
  • Now choose that role:
    • TA for a grader or teaching assistant who helps with grading; 
    • Limited TA for a teaching assistant not involved with grading;
    • Designer for a faculty colleague reviewing your course;
    • or Observer for anyone else not expected to grade or submit coursework, such as an informal auditor.
  • Press Next; if the name of your user(s) appears, press Add Users

The University has an automated process that uploads enrolled students to their Canvas sites. This process runs every 1-2 hours. If the user does not have an enrollment in SRS or Course Match, or only has a "permit" which they have not used within PennInTouch, automatic Canvas enrollment will not happen.

Users who previously have been enrolled in a Penn Canvas site can be added to any other site using the numbered steps below. (These steps generally match the Canvas vendor's How do I add users to a course? illustrated guide, albeit with a few differences; for example, Penn Canvas does not have what that guide calls "open registration.")

  • Click on the People link in the course navigation on the left.
  • Click the + People button near the top of the page.
  • For Add user(s) to, choose PennKey. (If you see Login ID rather than PennKey, that will also work.)
  • Enter the user's PennKey username (not password). If you have multiple users and they will all have the same role in the same section, you can enter PennKey usernames on multiple lines (or on line, separated by commas.)
  • ROLE: Make sure you select the correct role:
    • TA for a grader or teaching assistant who helps with grading; 
    • Limited TA for a teaching assistant not involved with trading;
    • Designer for a faculty colleague reviewing your course;
    • or Observer for anyone else not expected to grade or submit coursework, such as an informal auditor. VERY IMPORTANT: The University Registrar asks that instructors not assign informal auditors to the Student role. This way, confusion about registration or transcript status can be avoided.
      • If the user is going to unofficially audit, or if you want the user to have access to materials pending an official enrollment, you can add them as an Observer. Observers can see assignment details and can access course Files, but cannot submit assignments, join groups, take quizzes, or sign up for appointments.
      • When an observer later registers officially as a student, their Student role (created via SRS) will override the previously granted Observer role.
  • SECTION: If you're adding a Student or Observer, choose the section they're attending. TAs may be added to any section.  If you need to restrict a TA in a multiple-section course to grading their own section only, select that section and check "Can grade students in their section only."
  • Click the Next button. If Canvas finds the user based on their PennKey username, you will see their full name confirmed. (If Canvas cannot find that PennKey, see the first bullet point under NOTES below for next steps.)
  • Click the Add Users button when you're satisfied, or the Start Over button if you need to try again.


  • If you see an error message in step 7 above, feel free to contact the Courseware Team to have that investigated. Most likely, we will need to "Canvas-enable" an existing PennKey for a user who had not previously been involved in teaching or learning at Wharton.
  • If you're adding students who have not officially registered for the course, please be aware that adding them yourself circumvents the University's SRS automation. This means that if they intend to add the course, but do not, they will remain in your site until you remove them.  (For multi-section sites, it also means that if you add them to one section, and they later enroll in another section, they will have multiple listings in your People page and confusing section notations in your Gradebook.)
  • After a course has concluded, its Canvas site moves into a read-only state; you'll find you cannot add people using the steps shown above.  Whenever you need to add a user to a concluded course, please feel free to contact the Courseware Team for assistance.
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