Open course for shopping button image

Making it easier for students to shop a course from off-campus

Most Canvas courses have been accessible only to students who are officially enrolled. However if students can’t simply walk into a lecture hall or seminar room, and there is a 20 unit limit on courses, the Stanford Canvas team developed a new option for instructors to make their courses “open” to Stanford students during the shopping period. Open courses will be linked from

How can students find courses?

When browsing course syllabi at, you will see a “Shop Course” link located below the course title if the course has a Canvas site that is open for shopping.

Shop course link image

Clicking the Shop Course link will take you to the Canvas course. You will not be a member of the course, so will not be able to get announcements or submit work, but will be able to see Home, Syllabus, Modules, Files, Pages, Assignments, and if your school/department uses it, Panopto Course Videos and  Zoom. If you do not see this link, you will need to register for the course in Axess  before you can access the course in Canvas. (Note: Not all courses in Axess are available in Canvas.)

How can instructors make courses visible to all of Stanford?

After publishing your course, you will see a yellow button on the homepage (some schools and departments have opted out).

Open course for shopping button image

This button opens a prompt that explains what this means:

Open Course for Shopping: Temporarily allow any Stanford affiliate to see Home, Syllabus, Modules, Pages, Files, Course Videos, and Zoom (meetings and recordings) without registering or asking to join the course.


  • Students who are shopping are not official Canvas course members. They do not get notifications and can’t see tools that identify official students, including Announcements (students can reply to these). 
  • Shopping students can see things such as Files and Zoom recordings if you are using Zoom. Therefore, take care with sensitive information if you make your course visible beyond your course.
  • Shopping students will not be able to submit work, but can see Assignment and Quiz descriptions. They will need to register for your course in Axess before they can complete work online.

If you are uncomfortable with this, don’t use this option. You can require students to register in Axess to be added to your course as an officially enrolled student.

How can instructors make courses visible to all of Stanford?

If you opened your course to the Stanford community after September 10, 2020 using the “Open Course for Shopping”, your course will be restricted again without intervention after the shopping period ends for the quarter (e.g. October 2, 2020 for fall). 

If you opened it prior to or on September 9, you will need to manually restrict your course by clicking the red “Restrict to Registered Students” button; if that button is missing from your home page, go to Settings, and change the visibility to “Course,” then Save.