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Getting Content into Canvas

4 Ways to Get Your Content into Canvas

There are four ways you can get content into Canvas. Choose one or use a combination:

  1. Use the Migrated Archive in Canvas: If you taught in 2022 or Spring/Summer 2023 using Sakai, that content is now available as an archive site in Canvas. Find your archived courses in Canvas, review and clean up the migrated materials, and copy any of them you want into your official Canvas course for the semester.
  2. Export from Sakai Yourself: Manually download content from a Sakai site yourself and import it into your official Canvas course. This is a great option for instructors who have course content from before 2022 that they want to get into Canvas.
  3. Copy from a Canvas Course: If you previously taught in Canvas, import your content from your previous Canvas course into your official course site. This will work whether you taught a Canvas course at UNC or even at another institution!
  4. Build from Scratch: Build items from scratch by manually uploading content and creating new items in your official Canvas course.
METHOD
(Click method for instructions)
WHOHOW
Use Migrated Archive in CanvasInstructors who used Sakai to teach a course listed by the University Registrar in 2022 or Spring/Summer 2023.Sakai content from all 2022 terms and Spring/Summer 2023 is available as archive sites in Canvas. You can copy from archives into your Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 Canvas courses.
Export from Sakai YourselfInstructors who have course content in Sakai that has not yet been migrated to Canvas.Manually download content from your Sakai sites and import it into your Canvas courses.
Copy from a Canvas CourseAnyone who previously taught using Canvas - even at another institution!Import content from your previous Canvas course into your new Fall 2023 or Spring 2024 course.
Build from ScratchInstructors teaching a new University Registrar course in Fall 2023/Spring 2024 or wanting to revamp an existing course.Build items from scratch by manually uploading content and creating new items in your Fall 2023/Spring 2024 Canvas course.

Transition Tips

  • Keep in mind Sakai and Canvas are two different systems and the migration process is not perfect. You will need to review your materials in Canvas and clean up items as needed, depending on the complexity of your courses. We strongly advise reviewing Common Issues to anticipate where your copied content might need some adjustments.
  • Use the Course Link Validator in course Settings to identify any unresponsive links in your course material.
  • Tools between Sakai and Canvas will have different names and functionalities. See Crosswalk Between Sakai and Canvas for details on comparable tools between the two systems.
  • Review the guides and instructional videos on the Moving from Sakai to Canvas page. The Getting Started resources are an excellent place to start.
  • Follow the steps on the Start of Semester Checklist.

Getting Help

Canvas Questions: Access 24/7 chat and phone support through the Help menu within Canvas. Canvas Support can help with anything in Canvas, including importing content from one Canvas course into another.

Sakai Questions: Submit requests through help.unc.edu for questions related to your Sakai courses or specific to our UNC campus.

Option 1: Use the Archive Site (Auto-Migrated Copy of Sakai Course)

All University Registrar courses taught using Sakai in 2022 and Spring/Summer 2023 were migrated into Canvas, copied by migration partner K16. Instructors can use the steps below to re-use that archived content by copying it into their official Canvas courses.

If you are the instructor of record for a Registrar course in the current semester, a blank course has been automatically created for you in Canvas. If you have both a Sakai Archive and a blank course site in Canvas, you may import content from your Archive into your official course.

Step 1: Locate the Archive Site

Instructors will find an Archive site for each Registrar course they taught in Sakai in all 2022 terms and Spring/Summer 2023. The Spring 2022 data was pulled from Sakai on June 3rd, 2022, and the Summer and Fall 2022 data was pulled on December 12th, 2022. Spring 2023 data was pulled May 15, 2023 and Summer 2023 data was pulled September 13th, 2023. Any updates made after these dates will not be available in the Archive site.

  1. Log into Canvas with your Onyen
  2. On your Dashboard, scroll down to Unpublished Courses OR from the side menu, go to Courses > All Courses
  3. Scroll through the list of courses to locate the archive (e.g., “DEPT101.001.S122_SAKAI_Archive”)
  4. Click on a course to access it
  5. Carefully review each archive to determine if you would like to reuse any content from it to import into your official course site.

Step 2: Import Content from the Archive Site into the Official Canvas Course

Follow these steps on importing content from the archive site into the corresponding official registrar course site for the semester. During the import process, you may choose to import all content or select individual items.

  1. From your Canvas Dashboard, click on your official course
  2. From the official course menu, select Settings
  3. Click the “Import Course Content” link in the menu on the right
  4. Under Import Content, select “Copy a Canvas Course” from the Content Type drop-down menu
  5. Search for and select your Canvas Archive Site
  6. You can choose to copy All content OR Select specific content
  7. You can choose to automatically Adjust events and due dates by shifting dates forward or removing dates completely
  8. Click Import and wait for the import to finish, which may take a while depending on the size of your course
    • If you chose to “Select specific content” in step 6, click Select Content > select what items to copy (click the arrow next to a tool to select individual items) > click Select Content
    • It will show these import statuses: Queue > Running > Completed

Once the job has completed, Canvas will tell you if any issues were found during the import, along with details on resolving each issue. Carefully review the copied materials and make the necessary changes to prepare the course for Spring 2024. We recommend using the Course Link Validator in your course Settings. This checker validates whether links in your course are valid and responsive and notifies you of any issues found.

Notes on Importing Content in Canvas:

  • Important! It is imperative you import the exact same items into a Canvas site only ONCE. If you copy the same materials more than one time, each new import will replace what was previously copied, overwriting any updates you may have made to the previously imported content.
    • Example: You copy a module from your Sakai Archive into your SP24 course. In your SP24 course, you make updates to the module. You then copy the module from your Sakai Archive into your SP24 course again. The new import will overwrite the updates you previously made to the module in your SP24 course. Instead, you should copy the module only once and then make updates in your new course only.
  • If you are teaching a course that you have never taught before but have a colleague who would like to share their course materials with you, they can add you to their Archive site under People > +People > Login ID = Onyen > Role = Teacher. Then, you can follow the above steps to import content into your site.

Step 3: Review and Clean up the Copied Content in Your Official Course

We strongly advise reading through the Common Issues and carefully reviewing your copied content. There may be changes you need to make to prepare the course for the upcoming term.

Option 2: Export Sakai Content Yourself

After reviewing the Archive site, you may decide not to reuse any of the content. For example, perhaps you would like to import content from a different semester instead of or in addition to content from the Sakai Archive. Here are options through Sakai tools to export some of your course materials. Note some cleanup may still be expected once you’ve imported this content into your official Canvas course.

Via Lessons

The best option for manually exporting Sakai content yourself is through the Lessons tool. This process will download content ONLY from Sakai Assignments, Forums, Resources, and Tests & Quizzes. Note: If you do not yet have Lessons enabled in your Sakai site, be sure to add the Lessons tool.

To export Sakai Lessons content:

  1. Navigate to any Lessons tool in your Sakai site
  2. Click More Tools menu
  3. Select Export CC
  4. Use newest Version 1.3 for Canvas
  5. Click Download and wait for the Sakai package to download, which may take a while depending on the size of your course
  6. Go to Canvas and log in with your Onyen
  7. From your Dashboard, click on your official course
  8. Follow the steps in this guide to import content from Common Cartridge into your Canvas course

Once the job has completed, Canvas will tell you if any issues were found during the import, along with details on resolving each issue. Carefully review the copied materials and make the necessary changes to prepare the course for the upcoming term.

Important: Refer to Common Issues for details on issues you may need to update in your imported content.

Via Resources

To download items only from Sakai Resources, you can:

Then upload your files into Canvas:

  1. Go to Canvas and log in with your Onyen
  2. From your Dashboard, click on your official course
  3. Select Files from the course menu
  4. Drag-and-drop items into Files to upload them into your Canvas course or upload the zip file directly and let Canvas expand it.

Note: Only files can be uploaded into Canvas Files. To share web links, add links to Modules or create hyperlinks in the Rich Content Editor in Pages.

Via Tests & Quizzes

To download individual assessments from Sakai Tests & Quizzes:

  • Export assessment: Must export the Draft version of the Sakai assessment
    • While the IMS QTI 1.2 export type is typically recommended for assessment exports, we have found better luck using the “Content Package” zip file. Either QTI and Content Packaging options will likely still have some errors when importing into Canvas.
    • Markup text provides a basic list of assessment questions for reference.
  • Print option: Print test questions for reference or recreating from scratch

Then import each assessment into Canvas:

  1. Go to Canvas and log in with your Onyen
  2. From your Dashboard, click on your official course
  3. Follow the steps in this guide on importing quizzes from QTI packages

Please note: The remaining items in this section do not have built-in options for importing this content into Canvas. They are for instructors to save their course content as a reference for themselves.

Via Forums

Sakai Forums cannot be imported into Canvas Discussions, however you can save Forum posts for reference.

  • Go to Forums > select Topic > click Print icon > save file to local computer. Repeat for each topic as needed.

Via Copy-Paste

Save text content for reference, as an aid in rebuilding a site from scratch in Canvas or recreating content elsewhere.

  • Highlight text on screen > right-click and select Copy > open a Word document on local computer > right-click and select Paste. Repeat for other text as needed, and save document.

Via Save Images

You can quickly save individual images without needing to determine where they are stored in Sakai.

  • Locate an image. Right-click image > select Save Image As > save to local computer.

Via Screenshots

You may want to save visuals of your course layout for reference.

  • Use computer’s built-in screenshot functionality or a screen-capture tool to save images showing your course layout.

Via Web Browser Print Page

Instead of a partial screenshot, you may want to save the full webpage for reference.

  • In web browser navigation menu, locate option to Save Page As > Save as type > Webpage, Complete (htm, html).

Audio/Video Content

Remember all videos should be shared with students through Panopto, not Sakai Resources (or Canvas Files). You can continue sharing Panopto videos in Canvas with your students. Consider alternatives such as YouTube or Vimeo for non-UNC-CH use.

Some Instructors have requested information about how to save student work found in Sakai before access to the system ends. Common reasons for wanting copies of student work include record keeping, as examples in future courses (with student consent), or for writing letters of reference.  

The Sakai to Canvas migration process does not include student work. This is intentional for FERPA compliance and so that migrated courses can be reused easily for teaching in Canvas. Unfortunately, there are no automated workflows available to save student work. 

Instead, Instructors may opt to save student work from specific tools in Sakai using the following manual processes. These processes must be repeated for each tool and course site as needed.  

As a reminder, the final semester to teach in Sakai is Spring 2024. After that, Sakai will become restricted access. Instructors who would like to save student work are encouraged to begin doing so now while full access to Sakai is still available. This will provide ample time to save work, review the backups for accuracy and completeness, or to get help with the process if needed. 

Assignments  

Student submissions, grades, feedback, and feedback attachments can be saved as a ZIP file. Inside the ZIP, there will be a folder with each student’s name. Grades can be saved as either XLS or CSV spreadsheets. Repeat this process for each assignment as needed.  

Go to Assignments > Locate assignment and click Grade link > Click Download All button > Select All checkbox for everything or Student Submission Attachment(s) for student work only > Click Download button > Save file to local computer or OneDrive. If not prompted by the web browser to choose a location, check the Downloads folder.  

Dropbox 

Dropbox uploads can be saved as a ZIP file. The ZIP will contain a folder with each student’s name. Each folder will contain all files the student uploaded to the Dropbox tool and any files the instructor uploaded.  

Go to Dropbox > On the top folder click Actions > Compress to ZIP Archive > Wait for the file to be created > The file will be named “Site URL Dropbox” and will look like a string of letters and numbers > Click on the file title > Save file to local computer or OneDrive. If not prompted by the web browser to choose a location, check the Downloads folder. 

Forums 

Forum posts can be saved as a PDF file. Repeat this process for each Topic as needed.  

Go to Forums > Select a Topic > Click Print icon > A print preview window will open > Click Print icon in preview window > Select Save as PDF > Click Save button > Save file to local computer or OneDrive.  

Gradebook   

The Gradebook can be saved as a CSV spreadsheet. The spreadsheet will contain rows for each student and columns for each graded activity in the course.  

Go to Gradebook > Select Import/Export tab > Click Export Gradebook button > Save file to local computer or OneDrive. If not prompted by the web browser to choose a location, check the Downloads folder.  

Tests & Quizzes 

Assessment responses can be saved as an XLS spreadsheet. Repeat this process for each assessment.  

Go to Tests & Quizzes > Click Actions > Scores > Select the Export tab > Click the Export button > Save file to local computer or OneDrive. If not prompted by the web browser to choose a location, check the Downloads folder.  

If the assessment includes a file upload question, student work can be saved as a ZIP file. The ZIP will contain a folder with each student’s name and the file(s) they uploaded. Repeat this process for each assessment as needed.  

Go to Tests & Quizzes > Click Actions > Scores > Select the Download Files Submissions tab > Click the Download button > Save file to local computer or OneDrive. If not prompted by the web browser to choose a location, check the Downloads folder.  

Additional Options  

Refer to Option 2 on the Migrated Content page. Scroll down and open the blue tab for more options for manually exporting and saving Sakai content. Some options that may be relevant for saving student work include Copy-Paste, Save Images, Screenshots, or Web Browser Print Page. These are manual processes that would need to be repeated for each course as needed.  

Option 3: Copy a Canvas Course

If you have previously taught in Canvas, whether at UNC or another institution, you can easily copy your Canvas course materials into your official Canvas course for the new semester! You may choose to copy all content or select specific content.

If your previous course is in our UNC-CH Canvas instance:

  1. Go to Canvas and log in with your Onyen
  2. From your Dashboard, locate and select your official course
  3. Follow the steps in this guide to copy content from another Canvas course using the Course Import tool

If your previous course is from another Canvas institution:

  1. Log into Canvas from your other institution
  2. From your Dashboard, locate and select your previous course
  3. Follow the steps in this guide to export your Canvas course
  4. Go to UNC Canvas and log in with your Onyen
  5. From your Dashboard, locate and select your official course
  6. Follow the steps in this guide to import the Canvas course package you exported in step 3

Option 4: Build from Scratch

If you are teaching a new course, you will need to build your Canvas course site from scratch.

You may also consider using the switch from Sakai to Canvas as an opportunity to re-imagine an existing course site. In this case, it may be easier to just build the course site from the ground up in Canvas. For example, you might consider importing the UNC-CH Template (Simplified) into your official course site for the semester from Canvas Commons. This template is based on guidelines for organizing and structuring course content in ways that benefit students. Building from scratch might also be favored if you prefer to build the course gradually as the semester progresses or if the amount of content you need to add to your course is manageable.

Review the guides and videos on the Moving from Sakai to Canvas page and follow the steps on the Start of Semester Checklist to get your course ready for the upcoming term.

What about Sakai Project Sites?

If you have a Sakai project site or course site not tied to a University Registrar course, here is important information regarding Sakai’s eventual decommissioning.

Timeline

  • You may continue using your current sites through May 14, 2024.
  • You may continue to request new sites in Sakai during Spring 2024. However, we strongly recommend that you request new sites in Canvas instead.
  • On May 15, 2024, Sakai will go into Restricted Access mode. All sites will be unpublished, communications disabled, and site functionality limited. The purpose of Restricted Access is to allow site owners time to review their sites and export content before the Sakai system is decommissioned May 15, 2026.

Next Steps for Project Site Owners

Option A: Export it from Sakai Yourself

If you plan to reuse the content in Canvas, use the CC export option in Lessons. If you only need the files, create a Resources ZIP file instead. Looking for information about other tools and types of content? See more details and methods to export the content from Sakai.

Option B: Additional Migration Request Form

If you have a complex site that you would like to migrate to Canvas but don’t need immediately, review the requirements and deadlines listed on the Additional Sakai to Canvas Migration Request Form and submit the form if it applies to your scenario.

Option C: Do Nothing

After reviewing your Sakai project sites and non-registrar course sites, if you no longer require the content and don’t plan to export it for reuse in Canvas or another system, then no action is required. You will lose access to the site and its content when the Sakai system is decommissioned in 2026.

What to do with your content after Sakai

Option A: Import it into Canvas

Submit the New Site Request Form and a blank Canvas site will be created for you. Then, import your Sakai content into Canvas following the instructions for a Lessons CC file or a Resources ZIP file.

Option B: Explore Alternatives

Depending on the content, workflows, and audience of your Sakai project site or non-registrar course site, it may be worth pursuing a storage solution other than Canvas. For example, you may opt to save your exported Resources files in Microsoft OneDrive to share with colleagues or use Microsoft Teams to communicate with participants (see more on Microsoft 365). Some schools and departments may have other storage solutions available for their faculty and staff.

Common Issues and Things to Check

We strongly advise reviewing this list for details on potential issues you may find and need to clean up in your imported content, regardless of which option you choose to get your copied course materials. Keep in mind the migration process is not perfect and Sakai and Canvas are two different systems, so some cleanup will be expected to make sure your new Canvas course is set up correctly for the upcoming term. Use the Course Link Validator to confirm your links are valid and responsive. Here are things to keep in mind if you:

Use the Sakai Archive (Option 1) OR Manually export Sakai content yourself (Option 2) to import content into your official Canvas course:

Migrated content from Sakai may look different in Canvas but may still save time compared to building everything from scratch. Plan to spend time reviewing the site, comparing it against the original in Sakai, and making updates. We have found that Sakai Lessons content will likely need a considerable amount of cleaning in Canvas courses. See Crosswalk Between Sakai and Canvas for details on comparable tools between the two systems.

Note: Course data in Canvas Archive sites was pulled from Sakai on June 3rd, 2022 for Spring 2022 courses, on December 12th, 2022 for Summer and Fall 2022 courses, May 15th, 2023 for Spring 2023 courses, and September 13th, 2023 for Summer 2023 courses. Any updates made after this date will not be available in the Archive.

  • Sakai Resources / Canvas Files
    • Sakai may fail to include some Resources when exporting. Confirm you have all files in your Canvas course and upload individual files as needed.
    • Renamed items in Sakai Resources will revert to original names. You will need to rename the files again in Canvas.
    • You may find duplicate copies of items, which may be due to them being added in multiple places in Sakai. Clean up Files as needed.
    • Your Canvas folders may be named by a series of characters, which are the item IDs in Sakai. Use the “bread crumb” links at the top or the folder menu on the left to navigate between folders.
    • Only files can be uploaded to Canvas Files. Other items such as external links should be added to Canvas Modules or Pages. See how to add links to Modules and create hyperlinks in the Rich Content Editor in Pages.
    • Canvas Files will always be in alphabetical order. Consider using Canvas Modules to control the display order.
  • Syllabus
    • The Sakai Syllabus tool will not copy syllabus items over to Canvas. If you uploaded attachments to the Sakai Syllabus, you can find them in Canvas Files, though you will likely need to upload a new version of your course syllabus anyway.
  • Sakai Lessons / Canvas Modules and Pages
    • Sakai Lessons are mostly comparable to a combination of Canvas Modules and Pages, and the copied Lessons content may need a considerable amount of cleaning in the Canvas course (e.g., your content may be broken into several shorter modules or all in one module, Lessons items may be broken into separate pages, etc.). Sakai Lessons will be converted into a series of links in Canvas Modules, and the content itself will end up in Canvas Files. Copy this content into Canvas Pages and then organize your course through Canvas Modules. Canvas Pages, Files, Assignments, Quizzes, and more can easily be linked and organized through Modules.
    • Canvas Modules are published by default unless hidden. Review to ensure students can only see content you want them to access.
  • Sakai Forums / Canvas Discussions
    • Sakai Forums that did not contain a Topic were not copied into Canvas Discussions.
    • Sakai Forum and Title topics will appear as one Canvas Discussion title.
  • Sakai Tests & Quizzes / Canvas Quizzes
    • Canvas keeps one copy of quizzes instead of two like Sakai (draft and published version). Review/delete unused assessments in Canvas Quizzes.
    • Assessments were migrated into Canvas using the Classic Quiz engine, which will eventually be sunset. If you currently do not have a preference over Classic or New Canvas Quizzes, consider migrating each quiz to New Quizzes to avoid learning another quiz engine once Classic Quizzes are taken out of Canvas.
    • Images or attached files on questions in Sakai Question Pools were not imported into Canvas. You must re-attach those items again in Canvas.
    • Survey questions are not compatible with Canvas.
  • Panopto Videos
    • Because of how Panopto is integrated separately with each system, embedded Panopto videos all need to be updated in Canvas. The videos are still available in Panopto, but you will need to move them into the current Canvas course folder so your new students will get access to them. Then re-embed them in the appropriate pages in Canvas. See instructions on batch-moving Panopto videos and embedding Panopto videos in Canvas.
  • Announcements
    • Draft copies of Sakai Announcements are automatically published in Canvas.
    • Announcements may contain the word “Settings” in the body. Remove this if you decide to reuse these announcements.
  • Assignments
    • Assignments from Sakai were placed in a separate Assignment group in Canvas. You can drag them into another Canvas Assignment group as needed.
  • Dates
    • Due dates need to be updated. Even if you choose to “Shift Dates” during the course import, always review all course dates in Canvas to confirm the correct dates are listed and items are published to students.
    • Sort order in Canvas:
      • Announcements: Oldest to newest
      • Discussions: Most recent to oldest
      • Files: Alphabetical order
      • Pages: Alphabetical order
      • Quizzes: Oldest to newest by due date

Copy an existing Canvas course into your FA23/SP24 Canvas course (Option 3):

Make sure to update all course dates and confirm items are hidden that you may not want students to access.

Build your Canvas course from scratch (Option 4):

Review the guides and instructional videos on the Moving from Sakai to Canvas page and follow the steps on the Start of Semester Checklist.