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Blackboard Help

Observers

An observer is a special type of user account that has view-only access to content. Parents can use observer accounts to view their children's course materials and to monitor their children's activities within courses. Academic advisors can use observer accounts to follow students on Blackboard Learn.

An observer can be assigned to one or more active users, and an active user can have one or more observers. An instructor can limit the content that observers can see for a particular course.

Observers cannot enroll in courses as students if they are observing another user in that course. If an observer wants to enroll in another course as a student, a new user account needs to be created for the student role. 

To learn about what observers can access in a course, see Allowing Guest and Observer Access.

How to Create an Observer

When Blackboard Learn is installed, observer roles are created automatically.

To create an observer, create a new user or edit an existing user. Set the user's Primary System Role to Observer. If your institution licenses community engagement, also set the user's Primary Institution Role to Observer.

To learn more about creating and editing users, see Managing User Accounts.

How to Associate Observers with a User

Establishing an association between observers and a user allows the observers to view the same courses and content as the student user. Observers cannot interact with courses or content on behalf of the student.

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Users section, click Users.
  2. Search for a user. To learn more, see How to Search for Users.

  3. Access the user's contextual menu.
  4. Select Observer Associations.

    Image illustrating associated text

  5. Click Add Observer Association.
  6. Provide the observer's user name. You can assign multiple observers by separating the user names with a comma.

    -OR-

    Click Browse to search for observer user accounts. Click OK to associate the observer with the user.

    Users must have a system role of Observer to be associated with another user. If you try to associate a user without the Observer role, you will see an error message. You can either edit that user account to add the role or select a different user. To learn more, see Managing User Accounts.

  7. Click Submit.

How to Send Email to Observers

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Users section, click Users.
  2. Search for a user. To learn more, see How to Search for Users.

  3. Access the user's contextual menu.
  4. Select Observer Associations.
  5. Click the observer's email address. A new message appears in the default mail program on the local computer.
  6. Compose and send the email.

How to Remove the Association Between Users and Observers

You can remove the association between a user and one or more observers. This does not delete the observer accounts. It only removes the association between the user and the observer.

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Users section, click Users.
  2. Search for a user. To learn more, see How to Search for Users.

  3. Access the user's contextual menu.
  4. Select Observer Associations.
  5. Select the check boxes of the observer associations you want to delete.
  6. On the action bar, click Delete.

How to Enable Observers to Switch Views Quickly Between Observed Users

Administrators can add an Observer Gateway portal module to allow observers to switch quickly between observed users. For example, a parent with more than one child enrolled in a course can use the Observer Gateway to switch from following one child to following the other child.

To learn more about creating and managing an Observer Gateway module, see Managing Modules.