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Canvas gives us three options for who can view a course website: enrollees only, Harvard-viewable, and world-viewable.  If you make a course Harvard or world viewable, there will be some parts of the course that stay hidden to enrollees only, including: the People tab, Announcements, and Discussions.  This is to protect student names and data.

By default all courses are viewable to enrollees only; that includes students, faculty, course support staff (Faculty Assistants), and any additional teaching staff or TAs listed in the People tab. To change the course visibility options, go to the Course Settings, then choose either “Make this course publicly visible” or “Make this course visible to authenticated users”.  If you choose either of these options, the course website link will be active on the Harvard University catalog. You can also choose “Make the syllabus for this course publicly visible,” this will make the link to the Syllabus tab in the course active in the Harvard University Catalog. Content added to the Syllabus tab in your Canvas course will be viewable, with some exceptions (see the table below).


Course visibility rules

Visibility Option Make this course publicly visible Make the syllabus publicly visible Authenticated (Harvard Only) view
Public view (you do not need to log in)* Public view (you do not need to log in)* Logged in with Harvard ID but unenrolled*
Home Page Yes No Yes
Syllabus – text Yes Yes Yes
Syllabus – assignments (including graded discussions)** Yes (clickable) Yes (not clickable) No
Syllabus – events Yes (not clickable) Yes (not clickable) Yes (clickable)***
Syllabus – appointment groups No No No
Custom tab to a Canvas page Yes Yes (not clickable) **** Yes
Custom tab to an external URL Yes Yes (not clickable) **** Yes
People No No No
Announcements No No No
Lecture Videos **** Yes (not clickable) Yes (not clickable) Yes (not clickable)
Assignments Yes (clickable) No Yes (clickable)
Reserves List Yes No Yes
Discussions No No No
Files Yes No Yes
Pages Yes No Yes
Modules Yes No Yes

“Make this course publicly viewable” will override the settings for “Make the Syllabus publicly viewable.”

* “Yes” in this table means the tab will be accessible for the viewer if enabled (unhidden) at the course level; if the syllabus is not enabled, viewers will not see it, even if “syllabus publicly viewable” is checked. Modules, pages, and files will only be visible for world or authenticated viewers if you have enabled these tabs in the course.

** Any graded discussions will be listed in the syllabus table, but the discussions themselves are not accessible. When assignments are visible users can see the assignment details, but they will not be able to access student submissions (or see the “submit” button).

*** Will generate an error message (but allow access) on first time clicking through.

**** Can see the tab on the left navigation, but will generate an “access denied” message when clicked. Note FAS lecture video will play for Authenticated viewers.

Note that enrolled students will see all tabs enabled for them by faculty, including People.

Note also that courses and syllabi made viewable to the public will be Google searchable.