These tips were originally published on August 20, 2020. Click here for a downloadable PDF.

Guide to access Canvas data for admin

Canvas Data for School Admin

Canvas Learning Management System (LMS) can track a lot of data and if your site is using it you will want some administrative oversight. This document will cover some ways you can easily see how your school is using Canvas.

First you will want your Canvas LMS system administrator to give you some form of admin rights in Canvas. That gives you system admin access to your school’s Canvas area. You can see all the courses at your school and going into a course you can see the content and gradebooks.

Click on the Admin link in the left-hand global navigation. This shows you a list of areas in your district’s Canvas instance that you have access to click into. Click on one and it opens the admin panel for that area.

Sub Accounts

Canvas can be set up in a number of ways. Sub accounts are like separate areas for courses in
Canvas. It allows people to only have rights to a specific subset of their District’s Canvas. It is
recommended to have at least a sub account for each separate school so building
administrators can be given access to view their school’s Canvas use. This also sets up
reporting functions which will be discussed in another document along with some considerations
when setting up Canvas.

Admin Tools

  • Courses: This Canvas tool lets you see any courses in Canvas for your school or sub account that you have access to view. You can see at a glance if the courses are published with students, how many students, and who the teacher is. Clicking the course takes you into it for a closer look.
  • Sub-Accounts: Depending on how your district has set up Canvas sub accounts, this Canvas tool allows you to break down your school’s courses by sub groups, such as by department, and easily see which ones are using Canvas the most.
  • Analytics: The Canvas-created tool, Analytics, opens up some graphs of information about your site’s courses by term. Select the term and take a look! Canvas is in the process of updating this feature as well.


This lists all the courses in your school. You can adjust the sorting of courses on the right sidebar. Setting it to “Newest – Oldest” and then clicking “Filter” will set this so you always see the newest courses in your school at the top.

You can search for a course by typing part of the name in the “Find a Course” search. You can also filter the list by selecting the term you are wanting to see and then clicking “Filter”. Once you find a course that you want, you can open it up and look at the content by clicking on “Modules”, click “People” to see who is enrolled, and clicking “Grades” takes you to the gradebook.

Sub Accounts

About halfway down the admin panel is an option called “Sub-Accounts”. Think of sub accounts as folders for courses. Being in a particular sub account will allow for filtering and reporting for just that group of courses. When looking at courses this will let you narrow your list of courses by the sub account, such as department, they are in for your school. Clicking it will bring up a list of any organizing sub accounts that your district has created. Looking at the list, you can see the number of courses listed just below each name which serves as an easy way to see which one has the most Canvas courses created. Clicking on any sub account name will let you see a list of courses for just that sub account and you can filter by term.

View Analytics

When you first open up the admin panel it’s on “Courses” and at the bottom of the global navigation is “Analytics”. It has some interesting information at a glance for your sub account. When launched it will be set for the “Default Term” so first you’ll want to use the dropdown menu to select the term you want information about. You can see the number of courses, teachers, students, assignments, and more for that term displayed as a total number at the top. Below that you have three graphs. “Activity by Date” shows you what days your students and teachers are accessing content in Canvas. “Activity by Category” shows you where that activity is happening. “Grade Distribution” is the third graph and shows the percentage of students that have different grades in their Canvas courses. In order to find out specifics you’ll want to click on this in a smaller sub account (if your district set it up with a sub account for each grade level or department for example). Then you can choose to look at individual courses if you are needing specific info about a course, teacher, or student.