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  • SPONSOR(S):  Suzanne Cadwell
  • DEPT OR DIVISION: ITS Educational Technologies
  • PROJECT MANAGER:  Marla Sullivan
  • CHANGE MANAGER:  Emily Hardin
  • STATUS: In Progress
  • Project Theme: Serving Our Communities

What is it?

UNC is transitioning from Sakai to Canvas, a web-based learning management system. Institutions of higher education, including some other UNC System schools, use Canvas by Instructure more than any other learning management system. Sakai will be available for teaching courses until the end of Spring 2024.

Why are we doing it?

While Sakai has worked well for the University, the number of educational institutions that make up the Sakai community has significantly decreased over the years and fewer improvements are being made to the software. 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. 

Canvas is overall a more accessible experience for everyone and has a modern, straightforward interface. Canvas is also popular with K-12 school systems and across higher education, so many first-year and transfer students will arrive already familiar with Canvas. Finally, Canvas’ cloud architecture requires little to no downtime for maintenance and has 24/7 support. 

How does this impact our UNC community?

Faculty and Students

All UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, students, and staff have access to Canvas. Instructors may opt to build sites from scratch or import material from archive sites. Instructors may continue to use Sakai until the end of the Spring 2024 semester. On May 15, 2024, Sakai enters restricted access, all sites will be unpublished and only Instructors, Organizers, Teaching Assistants, and Tech Support roles will be able to view sites. Starting in Summer 2024, Canvas will be the only option available for teaching UNC courses and administrative purposes. 

When is this happening?

After a successful Fall 2022 semester, the Canvas rollout continued in Spring 2023 with full Canvas access for all users and use cases. The transition has continued with over 80% of courses using Canvas in Fall 2023. The final semester for Sakai is Spring 2024, after which all courses and sites must use Canvas.  


May 15, 2026 – Sakai will be decommissioned.

Spring 2024: Spring 2024 is the last term Sakai will be available for teaching. As of May 15, 2024, Sakai will be in a restricted access state.

Fall 2023: Course content from Summer 2023 Sakai sites was migrated to Canvas archive sites. 

Spring 2023: Since early 2023, non-Onyen guest accounts have been available in Canvas. Additionally, course content from SP22 Sakai sites automatically migrated to Canvas archive sites. Canvas was available for more university-related uses and facilitators could request and build sites.

Fall 2022: Beginning in Fall 2022, all UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, students, and staff got access to Canvas. All official Registrar courses and rosters were available in Canvas automatically. Instructors could opt to build out their sites and teach in Canvas instead of Sakai.

Spring 2022 Canvas Pilot Implementation: During Fall 2021, ITS Educational Technologies and Digital and Lifelong Learning conducted a small pilot of the Canvas learning management system. In Spring 2022, this project expanded the pilot to include more courses and users. ITS EdTech continued to evaluate the Canvas learning management system as a possible replacement for Sakai and collaborated with Instructure and its course migration partner K16 on the implementation of the pilot. The project measured success using end-of-semester surveys and focus groups with faculty and students.

Where can I find more information?

Canvas Project Updates

Sakai’s Last Summer

Sakai’s last summer at UNC is here.

Need to Know

  • Based on the results of a pilot and diminished development support for Sakai, the University is replacing Sakai at UNC with Canvas.
  • In Fall 2022, the University made Canvas by Instructure available for all instructors to use for their courses.
  • Archived Sakai courses from Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023 and Summer 2023 are available now as unpublished sites in Canvas.

Important Upcoming Dates

  • May 15, 2024 – Sakai project and course sites will only be available in a restricted access state.
  • Summer 2024 – Canvas will be the only supported Learning Management System (LMS) available for use at UNC.
  • May 15, 2026 – Sakai at UNC will be permanently inaccessible.

Happening Now

  • EdTech staff recognizes there will be an adjustment period for all and are working with the Carolina Information Technology Liaisons (CITL) group to encourage instructors to move to Canvas now instead of waiting until Sakai is no longer available.
  • To help instructors with the transition, the EdTech staff is continuing to add new resources, such as their summer blog series, to the Canvas website. Instructors may also register for in-person or online synchronous training sessions from the Canvas website.
  • Ongoing campuswide communications continue to promote switching to Canvas for upcoming courses.

Project Website for Canvas