Frequently Asked Questions - General

Content for the general CourseWork user.

What is CourseWork v5?

The next generation of CourseWork (CourseWork v5) is based on an open source development effort, called the Sakai project. In 2003, Stanford University joined forces with a consortium of universities including MIT, UC Berkeley, University of Indiana, and University of Michigan, to develop the next generation of teaching and learning tools for the higher education community.

The advantages for Stanford being a part of this open source development effort include:

* Control our own destiny: Share in software ownership, participate in design, build, testing and release of new tools and sidestep the limitations imposed by proprietary software.
* Leverage leadership in teaching and learning: Participate in a community of peers at the cutting edge of teaching and learning that possess the intellectual capital necessary to develop enterprise online teaching and learning environments.
* Get back more than we give: Benefit from using a richer set of tools created by other higher education institutions, achieve developmental economies of scale and cost savings implicit in inter-institutional cooperation on software solutions for common academic processes and problems.

What is new in CourseWork v5?

While CourseWork v5 provides virtually all of the capabilities of the old CourseWork (CourseWork v3.3), it also adds a host of new features that members of our academic community have been requesting. Some of these new features/functionalities include:

* Ability to upload/download multiple documents at a time through a desktop interface (WebDAV).
* Ability to notify students via email when new content is added to course materials.
* Ability to add file attachments to course announcements.
* Ability to calculate grades, rather than just recording them, using the Gradebook tool.

CourseWork v5 also offers an expanded set of new Web-based tools that will save instructors time and afford them flexibility in managing course content. These new tools include:

* Drop Box: facilitates the download of all student paper submissions and the return of commented papers via a few "drag and drop" actions.
* Web Content: public web sites that are referenced frequently in a course can now be displayed within the content frame of a site for quick access.
* My Workspace: a private workspace where course-related documents could be stored prior to being published to a specific course.

What happened to the old CourseWork?

The old CourseWork system ( will remain available in read-only mode. This means that you will only be able to view and download content. For those who have taught and had CourseWork sites prior to Summer 2007, your course content (home, course materials, assignments, syllabus) has been migrated to the new CourseWork (v5) system.

Do I need a SUNet ID and password to access CourseWork v5?

Access to CourseWork v5 requires SUNet ID authentication. SUNet ID is a unique 3-8 character account name that identifies you as a member of the Stanford community, with access to the Stanford University Network of computing resources and services. Full-service SUNet IDs are available to current, registered students, and to regular and emeritus faculty and staff. Anyone who is not University-eligible and needs to use SUNet resources in support of legitimate University work can be sponsored for a SUNet ID. Please contact your department or school for SUNet ID sponsorship.

How do I access CourseWork v5?

Go to and click the login button located on the upper right-hand corner of the screen. If you have not already authenticated via Stanford WebAuth (i.e., WebLogin), then you will be prompted to enter your SUNet ID and password. You will then see a redirecting URL. Click on this URL to access CourseWork.

What are the minimum system requirements for using CourseWork v5?

Computer and Connectivity Requirements:
- Screen resolution set to 1024x768 or greater
- PCs should be running Win XP Pro, Win XP Home, Win 2000
- Macs should be running OS X (10.4 and above is preferable)
- Internet connectivity for off-campus access: DSL or Cable at minimum

Web Browser Requirements (Web browsers are free to download):
- PC Users: Internet Explorer 6.x, Firefox 1.x and up
- Mac Users: Firefox 1.x and up

Why don't the BACK/FORWARD buttons work correctly in my browser?

CourseWork v5 is designed to function independently of your web browser's buttons. Use the buttons within the CourseWork application to navigate back and forth among list items or return to the main list. Also, use the buttons within the CourseWork application to cancel an action should you change your mind about a task, such as posting an announcement.

If you ever want to return to the starting point of a tool, click the Reset button. The Reset button appears to the left of the name of the tool you're using, and looks like two opposite-facing arrows.

How do I find my course sites in CourseWork v5?

Instead of seeing a My Courses page after logging in to CourseWork, you will now see CourseWork sites to which you have access as individual tabs laid out horizontally across the course site navigation bar.

Course sites are ordered from left to right, first by term in ascending order, then alphabetically by course subject area. Course names follow the convention of Term-SubjectArea-Course#-Section# (e.g., F07-CEE-199-03). Course sites not displayed on the course site navigation bar may be found by clicking the My Active Sites tab to the far right. NOTE: To trim down the list of viewable sites on the course site navigation bar, go to the Preferences tool in your My Workspace site, click on Customize Tabs, then move the courses you do not wish to see into Sites Not Visible in Tabs.

How do I hide or remove old course sites?

If you can't find your course sites from the current term easily or would like to hide your sites from previous terms (i.e., remove from site navigation), please follow these steps:

  1. Go to My Workspace and select Preferences in the left navigation.
  2. Select Customize Tabs at the top of the page.
  3. Select and move all the CourseWork site tabs that you don't want to see to the "Sites not visible in Tabs" box. You can also reorder tabs with the up/down arrows.
  4. Click the Update Preferences button.

What is My Workspace?

In CourseWork v5, each user has his or her own private site called My Workspace. After logging in to CourseWork, you will automatically be taken to My Workspace. This is the space where the CourseWork support team may post important messages. Additionally, this space may be used to do the following:

    * Via Announcements, view announcements from all of your sites.
    * Via Membership, join CourseWork sites that grant access to Stanford members/affiliates without needing to register in Axess.
    * Via Preferences, customize which course tabs show up on the horizontal navigation bar as well as choose how you would like to be notified of new or changed items (e.g., announcements, materials) on sites to which you belong.
    * Via Schedule, view an integrated calendar for all sites in which you participate.

If you are an instructor or staff member, the following capabilities are available to you in My Workspace:

    * Via Materials, store course-related documents prior to being published to a specific course.
    * Via Worksite Setup, set up CourseWork sites.

What is Stanford Syllabus?

Stanford Syllabus was released to the Stanford community in Fall 2006. Conceived by the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy (C-USP), funded by the Provost's Office, and developed by Academic Computing, the goal of the standalone Stanford Syllabus application is to provide a centralized online repository of syllabi for Stanford University courses.

On March 7, 2008, a new version of Stanford Syllabus, which is integrated with CourseWork, was released. This latest version allows uploaded syllabi to be accessible from both the external Stanford Syllabus application and CourseWork system. Instructors will only need to post their syllabus once and the syllabus will show up in both systems.

Whom do I contact for help with CourseWork?

The "Contact Us (HelpSU)" link, located at the bottom of every CoruseWork page, is the best way to get in touch with the CourseWork support team with questions or problems. Help resources in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), Quick Start Guides, and full documentation are also available under the Help link in the left navigation bar of every CourseWork site. For additional training needs, send an email to

What kind of training is available for CourseWork?

The CourseWork team is available to give presentations, demos, and workshops to any department or academic group interested in learning more about CourseWork. We can customize content and presentation length according to your group's needs. Possibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Brief overview of CourseWork
  • Update on what's new in CourseWork
  • Demo of CourseWork basics
  • Workshop on particular feature/task (e.g., How to Create Assignments)
  • Q&A Session

If you are interested in having the CourseWork team present to your group, please email For all other questions or issues, please submit a help ticket by using the "Contact Us (HelpSU)" link at the bottom of any CourseWork page.