Canvas | ITS Educational Technologies (2023)

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  • Moving from Sakai to Canvas
  • Migrated Content
  • Why Canvas?
  • Site Requests
  • FAQ


Update on Sakai Timeline: Spring 2024 is the last semester instructors may teach in Sakai. Starting Summer 2024, Sakai will be available in a read-only state until the start of Summer 2026 when Sakai will be decommissioned.

SP23 courses are now in Canvas! Instructors may choose to teach in Canvas or Sakai. Watch our training videos or attend live training to learn about Canvas.

Also available are Canvas archives of migrated Sakai content from SP22. Instructors may copy their migrated content into SP23 Canvas courses. Learn more about getting course content into Canvas.

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(Video) Newington College & Canvas - Education Technology that Just Works

Canvas is now available at UNC! Instructors may teach their courses in either Canvas or Sakai starting with the Fall 2022 semester. Sakai will continue to be supported and available for use through the end of Spring 2024 (last semester instructors may teach in Sakai). Beginning Summer 2024, Sakai will remain available in a read-only state until the beginning of Summer 2026 when Sakai will no longer be available. Please see the timeline, information about course migrations, and more details on the Canvas Project below.

Training & Support

Canvas Help Resources

  • Help menu within Canvas: 24/7 chat and phone support; Training Services Portal for instructor access to live and pre-recorded training by Instructure
  • Moving from Sakai to Canvas: UNC training videos and resources to help instructors move from Sakai to Canvas
  • UNC Canvas FAQ: Curated list of guides to help users get started in Canvas
  • Instructor Guides and Videos
  • Student Guides and Videos
  • UNC Help: Go through for UNC-specific questions only (cross-listing courses, renaming sites, 3rd party tools, etc.). All other questions about how to use Canvas or issues should go through Canvas Support (Help menu within Canvas).

Canvas Training

See Moving from Sakai to Canvas for video tutorials and guides to help instructors transition from Sakai to Canvas with tool comparisons between the two systems. This resource provides an overview of commonly used tools for instructors to manage their course, communicate and share course materials with students, and collect and provide feedback on student work. Live versions of this training resource were provided during Summer and Fall 2022 and will be offered again during the Spring 2023 semester. A crash course on teaching in Canvas will be offered twice before Spring 2023 classes begin. Register below!

Intro to Teaching in Canvas (January 2023)

Join us at this crash course on teaching in Canvas! This is a great option for instructors who are new to Canvas and want to quickly get their courses ready right before spring classes begin.

Note on joining Zoom trainings: You must sign into your UNC Zoom account in order to bypass the waiting room and join the Zoom meeting.

Instructors also have access to the Training Services Portal (click Help menu within Canvas) for live and recorded trainings provided by Instructure (company behind Canvas). The Training Services Portal is available through end of 2022. We recommend exploring the Training Services Portal for deep dives into several Canvas tools. Topics include course design, engaging learners, getting started, and more!

Why Canvas?

Canvas’ Advantages

Canvas by Instructure is used by more institutions of higher education than any other learning management system, including other UNC System schools and UNC-CH’s peer institutions. In addition to being a more intuitive system for designing courses, below are several benefits of the Canvas system. Canvas’ cloud architecture also requires little to no downtime for feature upgrades and system maintenance.

  • 24/7 phone and chat support provided by Instructure
  • A more modern, straightforward, and easier-to-use interface
  • A more accessible experience for all users
  • Mobile apps for instructors and students
  • Robust app and email notifications
  • Improved calendar services
  • Templates that can be created by schools and automatically populated into all of their courses
  • Canvas is popular with K-12 school systems and across higher ed, so many first-year and transfer students will arrive already familiar with Canvas

Transitioning from Sakai to Canvas

While Sakai has worked well for the University, the number of educational institutions comprising the Sakai community has significantly decreased over the years and fewer improvements are being made from version to version. Our faculty members continue to experiment with external technology tools they can use in tandem with the campus learning management system. Unfortunately, many vendors are not developing their products to integrate with Sakai. As a result, the Sakai LMS is not a viable long-term option.

ITS Educational Technologies and Digital and Lifelong Learning conducted a pilot of the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS) as a potential replacement for Sakai over Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters. The pilot consisted of a diverse cohort of undergraduate and graduate courses representing a variety of schools and academic units across campus. Although the preferences of the more than 600 students surveyed for the pilot were mixed between Canvas and Sakai, an overwhelming majority found Canvas easy to use. A strong majority of pilot instructors who were surveyed or participated in focus groups also support the move to Canvas, while recognizing that there will be a period of adjustment for all.

Based on the results of the pilot and diminished development support for Sakai, the University is replacing Sakai at UNC with Canvas. Sakai will continue to be supported and available for use through the end of Spring 2024. Beginning Maymester/Summer Session I 2024, Sakai will remain available in a read-only state until the beginning of Maymester/Summer Session I 2026, when Sakai will be no longer available.


  • Fall 2021 – Spring 2022: Pilot conducted through several courses across various academic units.
  • Summer 2022: No summer courses taught in Canvas. System access only available for future course development.
    • May 20: FA22 courses made available in Canvas (in addition to Sakai). All active Onyen users granted access to Canvas.
    • July 15: Begin accepting requests for non-Registrar courses.
  • Fall 2022: Canvas and Sakai available for any course listed in ConnectCarolina (instructor chooses which LMS to use). Content migration from Sakai to Canvas not available.
  • Spring 2023: Canvas and Sakai available for any course listed in ConnectCarolina (instructor chooses which LMS to use). Migrated Sakai content from SP22 available in Canvas (see details on getting course content into Canvas).
  • Summer 2023 – Spring 2024: Canvas and Sakai available for any course listed in ConnectCarolina (instructor chooses which LMS to use). Content migration from Sakai to Canvas will be available.
  • Maymester/Summer 2024: All Sakai course and project sites available for viewing only.
  • Maymester/Summer 2026: Sakai no longer available.

Course Migrations

We are working with a third-party vendor (K16) recommended by Instructure to migrate courses from Sakai to Canvas. This means that the content in some (but not all) of your Sakai courses will be automatically transferred to a similar (but not identical) structure in Canvas.

Migrated content from University Registrar courses that were taught in Sakai in the Spring 2022 semester is now available in Canvas. If you taught a SP22 course in Sakai, you should now see an archive of each of your courses on your Canvas Dashboard, titled in the form of “DEPT101.001.SP22_k16.” Instructors can choose to reuse this copied content and import it into their official SP23 Canvas courses. We advise reviewing migrated data as soon as possible to identify where you will need to make adjustments. See full details on getting course content into Canvas.


(Video) Canvas discusses the future of education technology at BETT 2016

  • The Sakai data from Spring 2022 courses was extracted on June 3rd, 2022. Updates made after this will not be available in the Canvas archive sites.
  • The Sakai data from Summer and Fall 2022 courses will be extracted on December 15, 2022. Updates made after this will not be available in the Canvas archive sites. Migrated content from these courses is scheduled to be available in Canvas archive sites by mid-March 2023.
  • Sakai content from upcoming semesters will be copied into Canvas archive sites as well, to be reused during future terms.
  • Beginning in March 2023, faculty will be able to request migration for select courses they are scheduled to teach again but that they have not taught since Fall 2021. For example, if last time you taught DEPT101 was in Fall 2021 and you have been scheduled to teach it in Fall 2023, you could request it be migrated.

When Should I Move to Canvas?

Faculty and instructional support staff have shared several approaches being taken in moving courses from Sakai to Canvas. Some professional units are adopting an approach based on student cohorts, moving courses enrolling new cohorts into Canvas. We encourage you to check with your academic unit’s leadership team to see if there is a preference for when you should move your courses to Canvas. Otherwise, we encourage you to use Canvas as soon as you are able.

Development Sites, Non-Registrar Courses, Guest Accounts

Canvas provides an online space for University Registrar courses and may also be used for approved non-credit training and instructional sites. Uses not related to instruction or training where participants are UNC-CH faculty, staff, or students are not approved for Canvas. We expect to have recommendations for alternative systems later this year. Non-Onyen guest accounts may be requested only for individuals who will serve in instructional or advisory roles for Canvas courses and for full-time, degree-seeking students from institutions participating in the University’s Interinstitutional Programs.

Site Request Form

Site Request Form (Onyen required): Submit requests for blank Canvas development sites and non-Registrar courses.

Approved uses must be:

Development sites for Registrar courses, non-credit training, or instructional opportunities offered by UNC-CH faculty or staff to any group of UNC-CH faculty, students, and staff (anyone with an Onyen account). Non-Onyen (guest) accounts can be requested for creation in order to be added to these courses only if these individuals serve in instructional or advisory capacity in these sites or are students enrolled in select Interinstitutional Programs.

We continue to work with Instructure, the Canvas company, to develop an appropriate solution for hosting continuing education/non-credit courses or trainings offered by UNC-CH faculty or staff to groups that include those not affiliated with UNC-CH (do not have Onyen accounts). Updates will be shared when available.

Examples of sites approved for Canvas:

  • Registrar course development sites
  • Capstone and comprehensive exams
  • Student advising sites
  • Placement exams (Onyen users and part of an academic program only)
  • Cohort sites (Resources for groups of students in a specific major, program, or academic year)
  • Teaching materials (Resources for teaching assistants and co-instructors)
  • On campus non-credit training opportunities (Libraries, BEAM, etc.)
  • Research-focused sites (Onyen users only, no HIPAA content)

Examples of sites NOT approved for Canvas:

  • Non-instructional sites (recreational clubs, personal sites)
  • Administrative sites (document storage, communications)
  • Committee work, tenure review, candidate review
  • Any sites that primarily serve non-UNC affiliated users (e.g., outreach to community, state, national, or global users)

Guest Account Request Form

Non-Onyen Guest Account Request Form (Onyen required): Submit requests for Canvas account creations for non-Onyen users. Guest accounts should only be requested for individuals who will serve an instructional or advisory role in a course or who are students enrolled in select Interinstitutional Programs.

UNC Community Testimonials

Read about Canvas in The Well!

“The dashboard in Canvas is a game changer. It provides a list of what’s coming up and what to do next. It tells you when grading for an assignment starts. I use that as a cue to send a ‘friendly reminder’ to students about upcoming assignments. I used to keep a schedule on paper, but now I don’t have to.”

Rebecca Kitzmiller
Clinical Associate Professor, School of Nursing

“I like the mobile app. I can see all courses in one place. It gives a quick visual of the activity. I can easily see how many people have turned in an assignment and who has turned it in.”

Leslie M. Sharpe
Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

“Canvas allows us to deliver engaging learning experiences more efficiently across our campus. With features such as Learning Outcomes, we can track mastery of learning among students, and the Portfolio tool allows us to capture longitudinal learning experiences. A student and teacher app make it easier for students and faculty to access content and interact with each other while they are on the go. This promotes the continuity of learning, regardless of time, place and modality of teaching.”

Manisha Mittal
Instructional Design Specialist, School of Nursing

“It is a smoother, cleaner website. More on par with what other universities use.”

4th-year Student
School of Education

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“It was extremely intuitive, very easy to use, and it just looks cleaner. It’s more modern.”

Eric Hastie
Assistant Teaching Professor, Biology

“It looks like (Canvas) made it easier for the teachers, which makes it easier on us.”

2nd-year Student

“The user experience was outstanding for me. Things where easy to find. Big legible text, organized, low extraneous information, and pretty.”

Graduate Student
School of Education

“The forum system in Canvas was much easier to use and navigate. It was helpful to be able to add possible grades for assignments to see your estimated current overall score. It was also helpful to be able to open multiple tabs on Canvas, compared to Sakai where it forces you to close all other instances of Sakai.”

(Video) एक बेटी का दर्द

4th-year Student

Note: Not closing all instances of Sakai can lead to the loss of student data on exams.


What is Canvas education? ›

Canvas is a course management system that supports online learning and teaching. It allows professors to post grades, information, and assignments online. It is being used by universities and colleges all over the world.

What is Canvas information technology? ›

Canvas is a learning management system (LMS) by Instructure that has been adopted by all of the schools of Harvard University. Canvas provides tools for teaching staff to develop and administer course websites.

How does Canvas LMS work? ›

Canvas LMS is an open and reliable web-based software that allows institutions to manage digital learning, educators to create and present online learning materials and assess student learning, and students to engage in courses and receive feedback about skill development and learning achievement.

What are the benefits of Canvas for students? ›

Canvas maintains assignment integrity by enabling uploaded submissions, time-stamped entries, auto-graded assignments, instant feedback, annotations, automatically weighted assignments, and much more. This will eliminate hauling around stacks of student papers and preventing debates about lost assignments.

Is Canvas an educational platform? ›

With learning tools that support instructor innovation and student engagement, Canvas is more than higher education software. It's a platform for student success.

Who is eligible for Canvas Education? ›

Canva for Education is available to students of K–12 (primary or secondary) age. However, for college and university students, it's currently not yet available for them. Eligible students can only get access if their teacher invites them. If you're a teacher, you can do this in your Settings.

What is Canvas and why should I use it? ›

Canvas is the Learning Management System used by PreK-12th grade teachers and students. It serves as a platform where teachers can post assignments, create discussion boards, and upload content like PowerPoints and instructional videos.

How is Canvas different from Google Classroom? ›

Google Classroom is a popular, academic learning management system, but Canvas is a true LMS. However, Google Classroom primarily focuses on academic learning while Canvas facilitates learning in both K-12 and higher educational institutions, as well as businesses.

Is Canvas the same as Google Classroom? ›

Across the board, Canvas offers more interactive features than Google Classroom when it comes to both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Conferences, collaborations, discussions, and chat are a few of the ways teachers can leverage the built-in interactive options to deepen student learning and engagement.


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