Getting Started with the Semester

Checking your site as a student

There are several things in Canvas that look and act differently for students than they do for instructors. It’s important to check the student view before publishing your site to your students. This allows you to make sure students are seeing what you want them to see and not seeing what you don’t want them to see. It’s also important to check before giving students instructions on how to do something in Canvas as tools can look different in student view than they do in instructor view. For example, you will see a published assignment with an online submission with “Published” and “Edit” buttons.

However, students will see something very different. They have a view that shows the submission process and the options you have chosen for submission.

Student view

The easiest way to see what your students see is to click the Student View button at the top right of any assignment, quiz, page, discussion, etc. Using Student View, you can see what items are visible to students, what are hidden, and what are locked. In Student View, you will not be able to see any unpublished assignments at all, and items with an “available until” date set in the future will appear as locked.

Student View works by creating a new student named “Test Student” who will now appear at the bottom of your gradebook and in Speedgrader. You are the only person who can see Test Student and Test Student cannot be deleted. You can submit assignments and take quizzes as Test Student. You can then look at Test Student’s work in your regular instructor view to see what you will see when you grade student work.

There are some situations where Student View will not show you what your students are really seeing. Test Student is not able to use the following tools.

  • Turnitin when used as an external tool (If you are using Turnitin for plagiarism review in a regular Canvas assignment, Test Student will work.)
  • VoiceThread
  • Integrated publisher tools
  • Top Hat
  • Google at IU tools

Guest account student

If you are using Turnitin or VoiceThread as an external tool, you can see what your students are seeing by creating a guest account and using that account to look at your course. You can create a guest account with any non-IU email address. Guest accounts do not need to use Duo to log in.

Once your guest account is created, you must first log in to Canvas using the guest account before you will be able to add it to your course. To add your guest account to your course,

  • Go to the People tool in your Canvas course and click the blue +People button at the top right.
  • Enter the email address you used to create the account, choose “instructor-added student” from the drop-down below, and click “Next”
  • Verify the name on the guest account and click “Add Users”

Once your guest student has been added, you can log in with that account and look at your course. You’ll likely want to do this in a private or incognito window so that your browser doesn’t automatically log you in as yourself.

Other situations

If you are using integrated publisher tools, see your publisher rep for instructions to see the student view of those tools.

If you are using Top Hat, see the instructions for Creating a Top Hat Test Student Account from Top Hat. Contact Top Hat support at for an access key.  Make sure to include your course join code in the email.

If you are using or Google at IU Tools, only a regular IU individual or group account will be able to access them in student view. To see those tools from a student perspective, you will need to add another person with a regular IU account (student, staff, or faculty) to the course site as a student and look over their shoulder. Remember to remove them from the course when you are finished checking.


Questions? Talk to your campus teaching and learning center!


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