Student doing schoolwork on laptop with teacher on zoom (l) woman pointing to what teachers see on the CANVAS educational learning caption 'Things teachers can see on CANVAS part 3' (r)

rido/Shutterstock @genx_professor/TikTok (Licensed)

‘This is what we can see when you take a quiz’: College professor exposes what she can see on Canvas in viral TikTok

'Kind of feels like Big Brother, doesn't it?'


Jacob Seitz


Posted on Apr 7, 2022   Updated on Apr 13, 2022, 1:37 pm CDT

A viral TikTok has college students up in arms after a professor revealed that Canvas—a popular learning management software—allows teachers to see when students leave a quiz page.

The TikTok, which has amassed over 20 million views and 2.3 million likes, shows a student’s quiz data involving when the student started and answered questions on a quiz. However, as the creator points out, the data also shows when students leave a quiz page.

“When you leave a Canvas quiz-taking page and go somewhere else, to a Powerpoint or Google to search for the answer, it tells the teacher when you stopped viewing the Canvas page and when you returned,” the creator, @genx_professor, said in the video.

Commenters had mixed reactions to this realization.

“Good! Shows that they will know how to look up answers in the real world,” one commenter wrote.

The creator clarified in the comments that she doesn’t hold it against students when they leave the quiz.

“Idc if they use notes,” she wrote. “Even in person, my tests/quizzes are open note/open book because irl people just look up answers they don’t know.”

Other commenters pointed out how they get around this feature.

“That’s why I have two computers,” one commenter said.

“This why you take the quiz or test on your laptop and use your phone as the cheat sheet,” wrote another.

Canvas itself is a popular course-management platform used at universities that saw a sharp rise in popularity during the pandemic for its remote tools: Instructors can post grades and materials, much like Blackboard. It also tracks more than students realized, apparently.

Surveillance by private learning management systems (LMS) is not new but came under increased scrutiny during the pandemic. LMS systems must comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal policy intended to safeguard the privacy of students and their guardians and give students some control over the disclosure of private information. However, LMS’s can comply with FERPA without consent from the end-user under a “school official exception” loophole that allows schools to disclose information to educational services.

While the privacy implications loom large, the surveillance aspect of LMS systems have led to tension in classrooms. Remote test-proctoring and monitoring has led to less classroom engagement, an antagonistic environment, and contributes little to student learning. Monitoring has also disproportionately affected women, trans, and non-binary folks, and people of color.

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*First Published: Apr 7, 2022, 9:22 am CDT