Important News for Spring 2024 Courses in Canvas:

  • Canvas sites for Spring 2024 courses are in Canvas and ready to get started!
  • Migrated Sakai content from Spring 2023 course sites is available in Canvas!

Teaching in Canvas this Spring? We can help with any questions! Schedule a Canvas consult with us to get started.

Also see how to use your migrated content, below.

Canvas To Replace Sakai

UNC is in a phased process of replacing Sakai with Canvas as the campus-supported Learning Management System. Starting in the Fall 2022, Canvas will be available for any instructor who wants to teach in it.

See the site for complete information.

New Training Opportunity: The Canvas Challenge!

Gillings teaching faculty: your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to leverage the capabilities of our new Learning Management System, Canvas, as you continually improve course quality and demonstrate inclusive pedagogy. Get ready for The Canvas Challenge!

Need Quick Help for teaching in Canvas this Term?

If you are currently teaching in Canvas, you can schedule a live consult to help with any questions you have. Use this Booking page to schedule a Canvas consult.

New Workshop Opportunity: Canvas Start of Semester Workshop

Planning on teaching in Canvas for the first time this coming Spring? Questions about the Sakai content migration? Or just need a few pointers on getting your Canvas site up and running for a new semester? Join us for a Canvas Getting Started workshop and we can answer any and all of your Canvas questions!

We’ll be offering two session dates to choose from:

  • Thursday, December 7th, 1pm to 2pm
  • Friday, January 5th, 11am to noon

Where: Zoom

Hosted by: Gillings EdTech Team


Please Note: The Gillings Canvas Info and Open Lab Sessions are intended for Gillings faculty currently teaching in Sakai. Information presented will not apply to MPH@UNC faculty teaching only through Digital Campus or UNC faculty NOT affiliated with the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

You can also attend a Canvas workshop from campus ITS. Those are scheduled for December 13th and January 4th.

Moving to Canvas, Our Numbers

In Spring 2022, three faculty members from the Gillings school participated in a pilot to see if Canvas would be a viable learning management system solution for UNC Chapel-Hill. This was remarkable timing as this early investigation coincided with our online program, MPH@UNC, manager’s decision to adopt Canvas as its own learning platform. If all went well, faculty teaching residentially and online would only have to navigate one LMS. Thankfully, the pilot proved successful, and our faculty have been on their way to smoothing the learning experience for their students with the help of EdTech.

Pie chart that shows 78% or 141 courses are in Canvas and 22% or 40 courses are in Sakai for the Spring 2023 semesterIn talking about the numbers, this spring semester, we have a higher-than-average campus adoption of Canvas. We saw 78% of our courses in Canvas, up from 45% from the fall semester. This adoption also reflected that each department had more of their courses in Canvas than in Sakai. To stress, every department at Gillings has more of their courses in Canvas! These remarkable numbers also reflect a strategic partnership between the Master of Public Health (MPH) Steering Committee and EdTech. They had the foresight to ensure that all of MPH incoming students would never experience living in two learning management systems at the same time. If reading these news makes you interested in getting started on your own Canvas journey, feel free to reach out and schedule a booking with our very talented support team.

Line chart showing that overall each dept at our school had more courses in Canvas than in Sakai


What is Canvas?

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. Canvas is easy to use and offers improved calendar services, robust email and text notifications, a smartphone app, and a more intuitive interface for designing courses. Additionally, Canvas’s cloud architecture requires little to no downtime for feature upgrades and system maintenance.

What is the exact timeline for the switch?

Starting Fall 2022 and continuing through the Spring 2023 and future semesters, Canvas can be used for any course. Starting in the Spring 2023 and continuing for Summer and Fall 2023, an automated migration system will be in place to help with the process (see below for more info). Sakai will be available to continue to use through Spring 2024, as well, but we highly encourage faculty to begin the switch starting in the Spring 2023 semester.

Complete Timeline By Semester (from the page):

  • 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.
  • 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.

How Do I Find and Use My Migrated Content From Sakai?

Canvas sites are in place for the Spring 2024 semester. As with previous semesters, campus has provided all instructors with automated copies of Sakai content from their 2023 Spring Sakai sites in special Canvas archive sites.

You can now log into Canvas to find your migrated content. You’ll see a separate Canvas site for each course you taught in Sakai last spring. They will be labeled, for example “DEPT101.001.SP23_SAKAI_Archive”. It will contain a copy of all the files, pages, assessments, etc., from your corresponding 2023 Sakai site.

Review the content and do any necessary clean-up. It will NOT be 100% ready to use as-is, especially for Sakai sites that used the Lessons tool, and the clean-up may be significant for some courses. Then you will be able to import it into your official 2023 Canvas site for use in teaching.

Note that Canvas sites for Fall 2023 courses will not be available until May.

See our Automated Migration Overview page with videos demonstrating every step in finding, reviewing, and using your migrated content.

If you have any questions or issues with your migrated content, attend a Canvas Info Session or schedule a consult to talk to us about it! Use this Booking page to schedule a Canvas consult.

Also see the campus page on the automated migration.

Where can I learn more about Canvas?

Here are some useful resources:

For more help:

  • The SPH Educational Technology team will also have Canvas Info sessions throughout the semester. Check above, or on the SPH events feed, for schedule details.
  • If you are planning on using Canvas for the Spring 2023 semester, you can schedule a live consult to help with any questions or get a general intro to Canvas. Use this Booking page to schedule a Canvas consult.

When can I get started in Canvas?

Official course sites for the Spring 2023 semester should be available in Canvas ( by mid-October. You’ll be able to login and see a site for each Spring course you are teaching. You will also see a Spring 2022 Archive course that contains content from your Spring 2022 Sakai site, in Canvas. You can use that content as needed in your official Spring 2023 Canvas site.

NOTE: Official Spring 2023 Canvas sites will be created for every section of every course in Connect Carolina. If you are teaching a course with combined sections (multiple sections in the same course site), you will need to crosslist any sections that should be combined into a single course site.

Are there any Canvas templates I can use to start building my course?

Yes! We have our own school template in Canvas Commons that you can import and build from, called the “UNC Gillings Starter Template”.

See our demo video on finding, importing, and using the template.

Also see more info on Canvas Commons and on importing from Commons.

Campus also has two versions of a campus template available, “UNC-CH Course Template” and “UNC-CH Course Template Simplified”. While we do not recommend importing either of the campus templates, previewing them in Commons may be useful as a way to see some Canvas organization examples.

What is being planned by Gillings for the transition?

The MPH Steering Committee has agreed that all Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 MPH Core and Concentration courses taken by first year students will be taught in Canvas. This is to provide an improved and consistent learning experience for Fall 2022 incoming residential MPH students across all their courses.

What about other Gillings courses?

Instructors teaching Spring 2023 courses other than the above-mentioned MPH courses will need to determine whether to teach from Canvas or from Sakai. Please plan to consult with program directors and department chairs as needed, making a informed decisions that consider impact on students.

Starting with Spring 2023 courses, Canvas course creation will get easier. Instructors, program directors and department chairs may wish to factor this into timing for course migration. There will be an automated migration tool available for Spring 2023 and later that will import course content from Sakai. We expect to reduce the amount of effort for faculty building courses. We expect Sakai to continue to be available through at least Fall 2023 but there is not yet a firm retirement date.