Adding People to Your Course 

Adding people such as teaching assistants to your course is an easy process in Canvas. With this permission comes the responsibility of protecting users’ privacy. If you are a teacher or leader in a course, it is your responsibility to comply with FERPA and other privacy policies set by the university. If you have questions on what the best role for a user is or how to comply with JHU policies and federal policy: 


  • You may not add students or teachers to academic courses.  All student and faculty enrollments come through JHU’s SIS feed.  There are no exceptions to this rule. 
  • At this time, all users must have a JHED (usually a combination of first initial, last name, and a number – e.g., flast1) to be added to Canvas. 
  • If you need to change a user’s role, you must remove the user first and re-add the user with the correct role. 

How does Canvas differ from Blackboard? 

  • Adding users to Blackboard courses was unnecessarily troublesome.  Canvas requires two clicks and the JHED in order to add your teaching assistant and other roles. 
  • Like Blackboard, users must already have logged in to Canvas once before you can add them to your course.  If you don’t see the user’s name pop up when you try to add them, contact the user and ask them to log in to 

How to Use 

Before adding a user to your course, review the Canvas Roles and Permission guide. Canvas has new customized roles that you can use (such as guest facilitator and observer). Once you have picked the best role for your needs:  

  1. Navigate to your course menu and locate “People”.
  2. After you have clicked on “People,” you will see a “+People” button on the right side of the screen. 
  3. Choose Add User by SIS ID.  At JHU, you can enter the JHED ID here. 
  4. Enter the JHED ID (such as flast1) in the SIS IDs (required) field.  You only need to enter the JHED such as flast1 and not with the 
  5. Choose the appropriate role, such as Teaching Assistant. 
  6. Click “Next.” 
  7. Choose “Add Users” to complete the process. 

Best Practices 

Here are some best practices for common scenarios. 

Auditing Students  

  • If a student wants to audit your academic class, instruct them to officially register through SIS as an auditor. They will then automatically be enrolled as a “student” once the enrollment processes.  
  • If they have already taken your class and just want to refresh themselves on content, they might not be eligible for an official audit. In that case, you can enroll them as an “observer” so they can view all the content but not turn in assignments or engage on the discussion board.  

Guest Facilitators  

If you have a guest speaker or other professional presenting in your class, you may be able to add them as a Guest Facilitator. Guest facilitators can participate on the discussion board and message students in the class. If the speaker just needs to join a Zoom session, they may not need access to the course at all or it might be better to add them as an observer. Either way, we recommend talking to your teaching and learning center about policies relating to guests in courses.  

TAs and Graders

  • TAs have a powerful role in a course. They can update content, grade, and do almost everything a teacher can do. This role is best for trained TAs that have experience with Canvas.  
  • Graders can see all the content in the course but can only grade and update assessments. This role is great for courses with many sections where a TA manages a grading for one or more. These TAs can be added to a specific section, so they only see their section’s grade book.  

Observing a Class 

Observer is a versatile role. If a fellow JHU colleague wants to see how your class is taught or if a student wants to observe the class temporarily, observer is the best role. Observer permissions allow them to see all the content in the class but none of the student information (provided you do not post student information within course “pages” or use the Microsoft Teams integration).