March 15, 2020

Canvas Tips: Open Courses: Visibility - Public

When I first learned about Canvas, years before my school adopted Canvas as their LMS, I was impressed that you could create open courses, real websites with real URLs open to the public. There was nothing like that in D2L, which we used as our LMS for many years. Right from the start, the creators of Canvas wanted people to be able to make their content available on the open Internet. The student-specific parts of the courses are not public: discussions, quizzes, etc. But the content, syllabus, the modules themselves: all of that can be shared if you choose public visibility.

To see how that works, here is one of my courses set up in Canvas with public visibility: You can see the Modules where my students record their work week by week, but if you click on one of the Quiz-Declarations, you will not be able to access it; Quizzes, Discussion Board, etc., are just for enrolled students, but the actual course content is available, and directly linkable. So, for example, here is the page where you can see my students' projects as a slideshow: Projects.

In addition, you can configure that visibility with a Creative Commons license; you can find out more about CC licenses here:

To make your course publicly visible, go to Settings: Course Details, then scroll down to where you can select License and Visibility:

Don't forget to click Update Course Details when you're done.

If these options are not available at your school, see if you can persuade your school administration to enable them. We need to be sharing all we can now in this difficult time. Sharing through Canvas Commons is one way to share content, but this is another, very valuable way to share your content because it is something you can link to (as I linked to my course and specific pages above), so you can share links with colleagues anywhere, including colleagues who do not use Canvas.

Share your course materials with links: that's how we will get a better educational Internet. Especially if your school does not offer any other type of web hosting, you can share your Canvas course content by choosing the public visibility option.