Open course for shopping

Most Canvas courses have been accessible only to students who are officially enrolled. However if students can’t get to or fit into a lecture hall or seminar room, and they can’t enroll because they have reached their 20 unit limit on courses, instructors can make their courses “open” to Stanford students during the shopping period. Open courses will be linked from This is especially useful if the course is posting lecture videos or Zoom meetings and doesn’t require submissions for the first few days.

How can instructors make courses visible to all of Stanford?

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


This button opens a prompt that explains what it means to open a course for shopping:


Once you confirm by clicking Open Course to All SUNet ID Holders, the content of your course will be open to the Stanford community until the shopping period is over. After the Add/Drop deadline, your course will be restricted automatically to enrolled students.


  • 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 students find open courses?

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

Clicking the Shop Course link will take them to a content-only version of the the Canvas course. They will not be a member of the course, so will not be able to get notifications, announcements or submit work, but will be able to see Home, Syllabus, Modules, Files, Pages, Assignment descriptions, and if a school/department uses it, Panopto Course Videos and  ZoomIf students do not see the Shop Course link, the instructor hasn’t opened their Canvas course to non-enrolled students for shopping or simply hasn’t published a Canvas course.