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Moving from Sakai to Canvas

Here are resources to help UNC instructors transition from Sakai to Canvas and address the question of “I did this action in Sakai. How do I do this in Canvas?”

Canvas Help

Training Videos on Moving from Sakai to Canvas

Learn on your own through the following training videos! We’re also offering live versions of these trainings in one full workshop over Zoom.

Full Session Recordings

View recording on intro to teaching in Canvas

Intro to Teaching in Canvas (58:19)

View recording on Canvas end of semester tasks and tips

Canvas End of Semester Tasks and Tips (22:00)

Recordings Broken Down by Topic

View recording on building your Canvas course in a few steps

Build Your Canvas Course in a Few Steps (5:19)

View recording on Canvas overview and user settings

Canvas Overview and User Settings (7:17)

View recording on Canvas course settings

Course Settings (6:27)

View recording on sharing Canvas files and course content

Sharing Files and Course Content (8:56)

View recording on organizing course through Canvas modules

Organize Your Course through Modules (5:31)

View recording on Canvas communications and group work

Course Communications and Group Work (7:53)

View recording on collecting student work through Canvas assignments

Collect Student Work through Assignments (7:57)

View recording on assessing students using Canvas Quizzes

Assess Student Learning Using Quizzes (11:56)

View recording on setting up the Canvas gradebook

Setting Up the Gradebook (7:05)

Crosswalk Between Sakai and Canvas

Here are tool equivalents and details between the Sakai and Canvas learning management systems. See Canvas Instructor Guides to learn more about each tool.

Sakai HomeCanvas Dashboard
OverviewHome | Home Customization (Video)
Site InfoSettings | Settings Overview (Video)
Site Info > Manage ParticipantsPeople | People Overview (Video)
Site Info > Edit Class RostersSettings > Sections: Add section, Cross-list section | Cross-Listing Overview (Video)
Cross-listed rosters in ConnectCarolina will automatically be cross-listed in Canvas
Site Info > Manage GroupsPeople > Group Set | Groups Overview (Video)
Site Info > Import from SiteSettings (Course Details) > Import Course Content | Course Content Import (Video)
AnnouncementsAnnouncements | Announcements Overview (Video)
AssignmentsAssignments | Assignments Overview (Video)
AttendanceAttendance (Roll Call)
CalendarCanvas Calendar | Calendar Overview (Video)
Chat RoomChat | Chat Overview (Video)
ForumsDiscussions | Discussions Overview (Video)
GradebookGrades | Gradebook Overview (Video)
Gradebook Categories & WeightingAssignments > Weighted Groups
Grading SchemaSettings (Course Details) > Grading Scheme
Grading Assignments, Forums, Tests & QuizzesSpeedGrader | SpeedGrader Overview (Video)
LessonsCombination of Modules and Pages
Modules Overview (Video) | Pages Overview (Video)
MessagesCanvas Inbox
ResourcesFiles | Files Overview (Video)
Rich Text EditorRich Content Editor
RubricsRubrics | Rubrics Overview (Video)
Sign-upCanvas Calendar > Scheduler Appointment Group
StatisticsNew Analytics | New Analytics Overview (Video)
People: Student activity, access, interactions, summary of all student interactions
SyllabusSyllabus | Syllabus (Video)
Tests & QuizzesNew Quizzes | New Quizzes Overview (Video)
Classic Quizzes | Classic Quizzes Overview (Video)
Note: Classic Quizzes will be removed from Canvas. See New Quizzes Roadmap.
WikiPages (set page to allow anyone to edit) | Pages Overview (Video)
External ToolsSame external tool integrations available: Gradescope, Panopto, Poll Everywhere, UNC Libraries (Course Reserves, Library Guides), VoiceThread, (Zoom join links must be shared with students)
No built-in template options
  • View and copy UNC-CH's Course Template in Canvas Commons
  • Provides a starting point for building and organizing course content using Pages and Modules
  • Uses visual style, formatting, tool use examples, built with digital accessibility in mind
  • Students get a similar learning experience across their courses using the template
  • Schools and departments can use a template for all of their courses. Contact us via UNC Help.
  • No repository for educator resource sharingCanvas Commons | Commons Overview (Video)
    No custom learning based on performanceMastery Paths | Mastery Paths (Video)
    No tracking of student masteryOutcomes | Outcomes Overview (Video)
    No mobile appCanvas Teacher App | Canvas Teacher App Video

    See Canvas user roles and permissions. Note that any user with access to student grades must complete FERPA training.

    SakaiCanvasFERPA Access in Canvas
    Teaching AssistantTAYes. All TAs in Canvas automatically inherit grading access, even if they are manually added to a Canvas course.
    Tech SupportTech SupportYes
    CoordinatorDesignerNo. TAs helping manage a course who should NOT have access to student grades should be made Designers.
    InstructorDean DesignateYes. This is the Dean's Designate role in ConnectCarolina.

    SakaiCanvasCanvas Details
    Sakai HomeCanvas Dashboard
  • Using the Dashboard as an instructor
  • The Dashboard displays courses in the current term
  • Your To Do list will show items you still need to grade
  • Hide courses from the Dashboard through Courses > All Courses. Star the sites you want displayed and then the un-starred courses will be removed from your Dashboard.
  • Sakai Home > MembershipCanvas Courses >
    All Courses
  • View current and past courses
  • When at least one course is starred, the un-starred courses will be removed from your Dashboard
  • Site Info > Manage Tools / Tool OrderSettings > Navigation
  • Managing course navigation links
  • External Tool Integrations: Gradescope, Panopto, Poll Everywhere, VoiceThread, Zoom
  • Site Info > Edit Class RostersSettings > Sections
  • Cross-listed rosters in ConnectCarolina will automatically be cross-listed in Canvas. Unlike Sakai where cross-listed courses appear under just one roster, Canvas will display each roster separately as they appear in ConnectCarolina.
  • Instructors can easily cross-list sections themselves in Canvas
  • Sections should be correctly combined before publishing your site
  • Course enrollments update much more frequently in Canvas than Sakai
  • Site Info > Import from SiteSettings (Course Details) > Import / Export Course Content
  • Copy content between Canvas courses
  • You can choose exactly what content to copy between Canvas sites, including the entire course or specific items within tools
  • Easily adjust dates during import by shifting or removing dates
  • Important Note: Import content into a course from the same source only once. Importing the same content more than once will replace existing content in your site you previously imported.
  • Sakai Home > Preferences > NotificationsCanvas Account > Notifications
  • Managing Canvas notifications
  • You can choose what email and app notifications you receive and customize these per course. Download the Canvas Teacher App to receive push notifications.
  • Home > ProfileAccount > Profile / Settings
  • Add your photo and personalize your Canvas Profile
  • Add your pronouns any any additional email address or devices in your Canvas Account Settings
    View Site As > StudentStudent View
  • View your course as a student
  • Student View allows you to upload materials, take quizzes, and navigate the course as a “Test Student”
  • The Test Student and their applicable scores will appear in the Gradebook. You can reset the Test Student anytime.
  • Publish Site / Site Info > Manage AccessHome / Settings > Publish
  • Publish your course to grant students access
  • Important Note: Even if a course is published, students will not get access outside of Term dates. You can view and modify your course start and end dates in Settings.
  • Course goes into a read-only mode after the Term end date has passed. This means instructors also cannot make any updates after the end date.
  • Course cannot be unpublished once student submissions have been received
  • No mobile appCanvas Teacher Mobile AppDownload the Canvas Teacher App to manage your courses on your iOS or Android devices and receive push notifications

    SakaiCanvasCanvas Details
    Announcements Announcements
  • Can allow students to reply or react to announcements
  • Can require posting before viewing replies on announcements
  • MessagesInbox
  • View, reply to, and send messages to individual students or the entire class from the Inbox located in the Global Canvas menu, not within a course
  • Filter your Inbox by course, group, favorites, unread, etc.
  • ForumsDiscussions
  • Group discussions possible
  • Can require students reply to a discussion before viewing others' replies
  • By default, students have ability to create discussions. Instructors can disable this.
  • Graded Discussions are automatically sent to Assignments and the Gradebook
  • Note: It is currently not possible to set up anonymous discussions
  • CalendarCalendar
  • Schedule office hours using a Scheduler appointment group
  • Changes made to assignment due dates are automatically updated everywhere in course
  • The Calendar tool allows for a one-way sync of a calendar feed from Canvas to an external Calendar like Outlook
  • Site Info > Manage GroupsGroups
  • Create Group Sets through People tool. Can automatically or manually assign group members; allow for self sign-ups.
  • View Groups and their Group Homepages through People tool. For students, Groups will be accessible through People tool and Global Canvas menu.
  • Assign group leaders to help manage your groups
  • Finalize groups before publishing group assignments
  • Site Info > Manage Participants / Add ParticipantsPeople
  • Enrolled students from ConnectCarolina will automatically appear. Registrar updates run much more frequently in Canvas (every few minutes or up to an hour vs. several hours in Sakai).
  • Students who drop course after the 2-week drop period will remain on course but as Inactive
  • Can manually add users (best to use Onyen and select "Login ID"). External users can be added after 7/15/2022.
  • TA AccessTA Access
  • Teaching Assistants in ConnectCarolina are automatically added to Canvas course
  • The TA role automatically gets access to student submissions and grades, even if they are manually added to your Canvas course. If you need to add a user who's helping manage your course but they should not inherit grading permissions, add them as a Designer.
  • All TAs and instructors must complete FERPA training
  • StatisticsPeople and New Analytics
  • People: View last time student accessed course and total time spent in course; summary of all student interactions
  • People > student's User Details: View student grades, interactions between student and instructor, course access, outcomes
  • New Analytics: View individual student analytics
  • New Analytics: View average course grade and weekly online activity; filter by section, assignment, students
  • SakaiCanvasCanvas Details
    OverviewHome5 different layout options for the course Home page: Course activity stream, Pages tool Front Page, course Modules, Assignments list, Syllabus
    Rich Text EditorRich Content Editor
  • The RCE is much more than a basic text editor. In addition to external links, you can easily link to items in the course including assignments, quizzes, discussions and embed media and documents.
  • Robust Accessibility Checker verifies links, headers, images, text size and color contrasts, and table elements and provides details on failed accessibility items
  • ResourcesFiles
  • Actual files must be uploaded into the Files tool. You can share links, text, and a variety of content through the Rich Content Editor on Pages.
  • There are 3 file types in Canvas: Course, Group, Personal. In a course, Files tool displays the course-related files. Group files can be accessed via the Group Homepage > Files. All course and personal files can be accessed via the Global Canvas menu > Account > Files.
  • Schedule student visibility on files or folders
  • Important Note: It is currently not possible to restrict access to items in Files to certain sections or groups. Access is either to all or no students.
  • SyllabusSyllabus
  • Syllabus Course Summary is automatically generated with assignments and course events
  • Top of Syllabus can be edited to include your course syllabus as text or uploaded file
  • Course assignment groups and grading weights are listed in the Syllabus
  • Can be set as the course Home page
  • LessonsCombination of Modules and Pages
  • Content (text, documents, PDFs, embedded media, course links, external links, etc.) is added through the dynamic Rich Content Editor on Pages. Pages are then organized into Modules.
  • Control the flow of your course through Modules. Modules then become checklists for students to see what items to complete.
  • Lock Modules until a certain time. Set prerequisites and required items within a Module.
  • View student progress in Modules
  • A Page (must be set as the Front Page) or the Modules tool can be made the course Home page
  • Important Note: It is currently not possible to restrict access to items in Pages or Modules to certain sections or groups. Access is either to all or no students.
  • WikiPages
  • Set page to allow anyone to edit page to collaborate with students
  • No built-in option for a shared templateCourse Template
  • View and copy UNC-CH's Course Template in Canvas Commons
  • Provides a starting point for building and organizing course content using Pages and Modules
  • Uses visual style, formatting, tool use examples, built with digital accessibility in mind
  • Students get a similar learning experience across their courses using the template
  • Schools and departments can use a template for all of their courses. Contact us via UNC Help.
  • SakaiCanvasCanvas Details
  • Allows for multiple submission options: File upload (can restrict file type), text entry, media recording, URLs, or student annotations (students annotate document uploaded by instructor)
  • Students may use only one submission option (e.g., cannot submit both an uploaded file and entered text
  • Group assignments are possible. Finalize student groups before publishing group assignments.
  • Set different assignment due dates to sections or individual students
  • Batch-edit due dates and availability
  • Peer Review: You can manually assign or have Canvas automatically assign peer reviewers. Individual and Group assignments can be peer reviewed and made anonymous to students.
  • Enable anonymous grading on individual assignments
  • Gradebook weighting and setup happens in Assignments
  • Tests & QuizzesQuizzes
  • 2 Quiz creation engines (Quiz Comparison Doc): New Quizzes (rocket icon filled in) and Classic Quizzes (rocket outlined)
  • Note: Classic Quizzes will be removed from Canvas. See New Quizzes Roadmap.
  • 4 assessment type options: Graded quiz, practice quiz, graded survey, ungraded survey
  • Settings in New Quizzes; Settings in Classic Quizzes
  • Feedback visible to students by default in New Quizzes. Restrict student result view in Settings.
  • Question Pools: Item Banks in New Quizzes; Question Banks in Classic Quizzes
  • Set different quiz availability dates to sections or individual students
  • Provide accommodation for student on a quiz: Moderate New Quiz; Moderate Classic Quiz
  • Apply accommodation to all quizzes for a student at once (New Quizzes only)
  • Cannot send Panopto quiz resultsPanopto Quizzes
  • Use Panopto quiz as a Canvas assignment
  • See which students have taken Panopto quiz and their results; add scores to Canvas
  • Grading Assignments, Forums, Tests & QuizzesSpeedGrader
  • Use SpeedGrader to grade Assignments, Quizzes, and Discussions
  • View student submission (including attachments), grading rubric, feedback options all on one page
  • Instructor can record audio or video feedback comments directly on student submission
  • Hide student names in SpeedGrader
  • Enable anonymous grading on individual assignments
  • Use fudge points to manually adjust a student's overall score
  • Gradebook SetupCombination of Assignments and Grades
  • Gradebook weighting and setup happens in Assignments
  • In addition to Assignments, graded Quizzes (published and unpublished), graded Discussions, and Attendance are automatically sent to Assignments (see Canvas Assignments vs. Activities). Organize your graded items into Assignment Groups to include % of total grade (similar to Sakai Gradebook categories).
  • Grading scheme is configured in course Settings
  • Gradebook is automatically populated with columns corresponding to items in the Assignments list
  • Cells are color-coded based on status (i.e., late, missing, resubmitted, dropped, excused)
  • Enter grades, change a student's submission status, or curve grades
  • Leave comments and send messages based on submission status or scores
  • Set a default grade on an assignment (can apply to all or only ungraded students) or apply a score to all ungraded items within an assignment group or entire Gradebook
  • Manage student visibility of grades automatically or when manually posted
  • Set policies to apply automatic grade deductions on late submissions or automatic grades on missing submissions
  • What-If Grades allow students to calculate their total grade by entering hypothetical scores
  • View history of all grading changes in Gradebook. Filter by student, grader, artifact, or dates.
  • RubricsRubrics
  • Use Rubrics as grading criteria on Assignments, Quizzes, and graded Discussions
  • Provide automatic feedback for students with pre-set grading criteria
  • A rubric cannot be edited once added to an assignment
  • Extra CreditExtra CreditGiving extra credit
    TA GradingTA Grading
  • Moderate assignments so instructor reviews and finalizes scores on assignments graded by TAs. Can be set up with anonymous grading.
  • Teaching Assistants are automatically granted grading permissions. All TAs and graders must complete FERPA training.
  • Getting Started in a Canvas Course

    Accessing Canvas

    Go to and click the Onyen Login button to sign into Canvas.

    Set Up Your Canvas Account

    When you log into Canvas, you will arrive in your Dashboard where you will see what is happening in all your current courses. You will see items you need to grade in the To Do List.

    Update your User Settings to add your profile photo, pronouns, and any additional contact information.

    Update Your Notifications

    One of the first things we recommend doing is updating your Notification Settings. You can control how often you receive notifications in your email inbox and/or through Canvas App push notifications: right away, daily summary, weekly summary, or not at all

    Communicating through Canvas Inbox

    The Inbox is the internal messaging system in Canvas. You can receive email and Canvas App push notifications of your messages.

    See All Course Assignments and Events in Calendar

    The Calendar allows you to see all course assignments and events in one place. It includes the Scheduler, which allows students to sign up for appointment slots. Learn more in the Calendar Overview for Instructors video.

    Canvas Mobile App

    Canvas apps are available! Learn more in the Canvas Teacher App video. See Canvas Teacher App guides on iOS and Android devices.

    Here is a 6-minute Canvas Overview for instructors to learn about the Canvas Dashboard, sidebar, global navigation menu, and course interface.

    Only have a few minutes? Here is a quick infographic with these steps!

    1. Log into Canvas with your Onyen and click through the brief tutorial
    2. From your Dashboard, click on the course you want to set up
    3. From the Syllabus tool, add your syllabus using the Edit button
    4. Upload your course documents into Files
    5. Publish your course. You can give students early access by editing the start date in Settings.

    Tip: You can see your class roster in the People tool.

    In this mini-series, Instructors will learn to “Set Up your Canvas Course in 30 Minutes or Less!” These 7 videos will get you started with an overview of Canvas, how to build and manage a course, and how to create and manage course content.

    Unsure of where to begin? The UNC-CH course template provides instructors with a starting point for building out course content and makes use of Canvas Modules and Pages to organize course materials. It includes visual style, formatting, course module organization, examples of tool use, and instructions and was built with digital accessibility in mind. The template also provides students with a similar learning experience across all courses that have been designed with the template.

    If you would like to add the template to a Canvas site, please follow the steps below. It is best to add the template to a blank Canvas site (template will be added on top of existing content if Canvas site has been in use):

    1. Log into Canvas
    2. Select Commons on the global navigation
    3. If requested, click Authorize button to gain access to the Canvas Commons
    4. On this page, click the “UNC-CH Course Template (Simplified)” tile that has a blue checkmark
    5. If the tile is not visible, type UNC-CH Course Template into the search bar and press Enter
    6. On the tile, click the title “UNC-CH Course Template (Simplified)
    7. On the right side of the screen, click the Import/Download button
    8. In the search bar, enter the title of your site and press Enter or check the box next to the site if listed
    9. Click Import into Course button. The system will take a few moments to add the template to your site.

    See how to navigate Canvas Commons.

    All digital content must be accessible to all users. We recommend regularly using the built-in Accessibility Checker in the Canvas Rich Content Editor.

    Also, the University’s Digital Accessibility Office (DAO) offers accessibility assessments for course content, guidance on fixing issues, and resources to learn more. Please review the DAO’s Top 10 Tips for Digital Accessibility.

    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 all 2022 and 2023 terms are now available in Canvas. Spring 2024 courses will be migrated by late June 2024. If you taught a course from these terms in Sakai, you should now see an archive of each of your courses on your Canvas Dashboard, titled in the form of “DEPT101.001.FA22_SAKAI_Archive” (note: SP22 archive sites do not include “SAKAI_Archive” in the site name and some sites may include “k16” in the archive title as well). Instructors can choose to reuse this copied content and import it into their official 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 content into Canvas.


    • The Sakai data from past courses was extracted on the following dates. Updates made after this will not be available in the Canvas archive sites.
      • Spring 2022 courses: June 3, 2022
      • Maymester, Summer Session I, Summer Session II 2022 courses: December 12, 2022
      • Fall 2022 courses: December 12, 2022
      • Spring 2023 courses: May 15, 2023
      • Summer 2023 courses: September 13, 2023
      • Fall 2023 courses: January 29, 2024
      • Spring 2024 courses: May 10, 2024

    Quick access to this page: