Laura Gibbs

Course Access Tips: Custom URLs and Public Courses

Blog Post created by Laura Gibbs on Mar 23, 2017

I've now learned that when I leave a long comment on an "Ideas" post here at the Community, I should copy-and-paste that here into my blog because it will be consigned sooner or later to Cold Storage. So, here is a comment I wrote on an idea post just now. Here is the Idea post as stated, and my comment is below:

I think it's important that a student be able to access a Canvas course site after they've finished with a course… and even when they've graduated. I spend a lot of time putting resource information on the Pages of my sites. And I tell my students that I prefer that they take as few notes as possible during the class — I'd rather have them be paying attention to what I'm saying and not just transcribing it. I tell them the information is all on Canvas. This allows them to really concentrate, to consider and absorb theories and concepts—not mere facts and data.
But then they finish the class and will still want to access these resources. (We do hope that these classes are useful to our students later in life, right?) Previous to this year's Canvas adoption by my university, I made Google sites for all of my classes because of their simple ability to include rich media content in well-layed out pages. Using Canvas has really caught up but the benefit of a Google site is that it has a permanent URL. Which really makes me tempted to go back. Former students continue to write me and say what an invaluable resource these Google sites are.
So I would make these very important feature requests:
• Either a course site for a specific semester remains an accessible URL for former class participants. Or…
• Canvas has the ability to be export its Pages as a PDF with live hyperlinks.
I think this is a critical tool and service to be able to offer our students, and helps fulfill the promise of the digital classroom, where students can pay attention to their professors and not have to be simply scribes.




I totally agree about creating content that students will want to use after the class is over: that's real lifelong-learning. I do all my course content outside of Canvas using wikis and blogs, and I will continue to do so; given that I ask my students to blog and create websites (they use Google Sites too!), it makes sense for us to be doing our content creating and sharing together on the same platforms.


That being said, I LOVE CANVAS PUBLIC COURSES. I have made all my Canvas courses public, and I am really enjoying the way I can share my Canvas strategies by creating public courses, like in these three spaces. You can just click and go. (The LMS we had for 10+ years was D2L, and it offered no public access of any kind):

Laura PAINTs Canvas 

Laura's Widget Warehouse: Homepage: Laura's Widget Warehouse 

Twitter4 Canvas Home: Twitter4Canvas 


I do have a trick I can suggest about the permanent URL, although you might need to request some help from your school to make this work. I teach two classes: Myth-Folklore and Indian Epics. Because Canvas doesn't realize that the courses I teach really ARE the "same" from semester to semester, it gives me a new webspace every time, with a new URL. That is very frustrating for me too, just practically speaking. I want to be able to use the same link every semester for my classes. So, what I did was to create two subdomain URLs in my webspace:

( is my webspace; I don't really publish content there, but I make a lot of custom URLs to point to my blogs, wikis, etc.)


Each of those URLs redirects to a different address; this semester, as you can see, they are redirecting to course number 31878 and 31889 in our Canvas system. I will have different course numbers next semester, so I will just change the redirect on those URLs to go to the current version of the course. So, whenever I link to my courses, I use those URLs, never the Canvas address, and that way I know that whoever clicks on that link in the future will go to the latest version of the class, which does indeed change from semester to semester because that's just how LMSes work.


Maybe a nice person in your school's IT would set up something like that for you, either a subdomain or some other URL that you control.


I can also HIGHLY RECOMMEND Reclaim Hosting if you would like to get your own webspace; they specialize in working with teachers, and their support is outstanding. My school has a contract with them to provide webspace at a very low cost for all our faculty and students, and their regular hosting rates are totally affordable: $30/year!

Reclaim Hosting | Take Control of your Digital Identity