Why are we changing LMS?

The Sakai platform has diminished significantly in the past five years, now retaining only 1% market share in US higher education. This means that fewer developers, publishers, and third-party tool vendors are attending to Sakai, a downward trend that is likely to continue. At the same time, new easy-to-use platforms with powerful features are flourishing at our peer institutions and throughout higher education.

Who decided what was important in a new LMS?

The Faculty LMS Succession Committee and the OIT Teaching & Learning Technologies Team (TLT) designed a process by which all campus constituents – faculty, students, and staff – had a voice in selecting the next LMS. There were a series of listening sessions, which solicited LMS needs and preferences from campus, and a pilot of the two potential LMS held throughout the Spring 2021 semester. The information gathered at the listening sessions, as well as data gathered during the pilot project, was used to build a requirements list by which the two potential LMS were evaluated against.

What was the LMS Pilot Project?

The Faculty LMS Succession Committee selected a representative group of faculty to participate in testing one, or both, of the two finalist platforms in live instruction, supported by the OIT Teaching and Learning Technologies team. Evaluations from this pilot group of faculty and courses were used to build a requirements list by which the two potential LMS were evaluated against.

What is the Faculty Succession Committee’s recommendation?

The Faculty LMS Succession Committee recommended to the Provost’s Office that Canvas should be the successor of choice to replace the current campus LMS, Sakai. The Provost’s Office accepted their recommendation and has requested that the transition to the new LMS begin immediately, with the first official courses moving to Canvas beginning Fall 2021.  More details will be forthcoming from the LMS Transition Project over the next few months.

Why was Canvas chosen?

In arriving at a recommendation, the Committee considered the following criteria, all with an eye toward ensuring that we select the LMS with the most potential to enhance teaching and learning at Notre Dame. 

  • Ease of use for both instructors and students
  • Academic and pedagogical factors, e.g. content management; tests, quizzes, and assignments, communication and collaboration
  • Functional capability, e.g. course migration and backup, interface personalization, accessibility, vendor support
  • Technical matters, e.g. mobile functionality, integration of 3rd party tools
  • Expandability, e.g. use of LMS in advising, use by the library

After a thorough review of the multitude of qualitative and quantitative data collected over the pilot period, overwhelmingly, students, faculty, and members of the Committee all agree that Canvas is the superior product and thus recommend that it be selected as Notre Dame’s next LMS.

What criteria was particularly important in the selection process?

Of the criteria identified, the Committee placed the most emphasis on ease of use: How easy is the LMS to use for both instructors and students? By this criterion, Canvas is clearly ahead. This came out loud and clear in both the qualitative and quantitative data collected: listening sessions, the two surveys of pilot-testing faculty, the survey of pilot-testing students, and in our committee’s deliberations.

What will the transition look like?

We will be transitioning 10% of current Sakai courses to Canvas for Fall 2021.  The faculty that will be switching for Fall 2021 have already been notified. We are expecting to have 50% of current Sakai courses switched to Canvas for Spring 2022 and all courses live in Canvas for Fall 2022.  

The last day Sakai will be available for teaching is May 9, 2022 and the last day faculty & staff will have access to content in Sakai is January 20, 2023.

Faculty will be contacted prior to the semester in which their courses are to be switched with details on next steps.  Generally, faculty will be asked for a list of current Sakai courses which may require content migration to Canvas and be given a timeline for when to expect the course to be available in the new LMS.  In many cases, the instructor may be better off creating their content from scratch in Canvas since many functions from Sakai will not transfer cleanly.

After determining what actually needs to be copied over from Sakai into Canvas, the course will be migrated and the primary instructor for the course will be asked to review the course material for accuracy and functionality prior to the start of the semester.  Again please note that in many cases, the best option will be to start fresh in Canvas.    

Will I have to redo the courses I teach in Sakai all over again?

Faculty with courses currently in Sakai will be given the opportunity to migrate one version of each course for a given semester.  For more information on course migrations, please refer to the FAQ question “What content will be migrated from Sakai to Canvas”.  

What content will be migrated from Sakai to Canvas?

Depending on how Sakai was used, it may be possible that no content needs to be actively migrated from Sakai into Canvas. To set expectations appropriately we want faculty to know that when the time comes to transition their courses from Sakai to the new LMS we will migrate (if needed) one version of each course that is, or was, in the Registrar course catalog for a given semester upon instructor request.

Only Registrar course content, meaning course content created and/or maintained by the instructor, will be copied. Student-created content such as assignment submissions or test results will not be copied. For more details regarding which content can be reused in Canvas and other considerations, refer to “Overview of the Migration Process from Sakai to Canvas.”

If necessary, we will also migrate Sakai project sites that have been used within the last academic year, or currently active sites, upon request by the site owner(s).

If a faculty member is willing to start in the new LMS with an empty course shell, that instructor will have the opportunity to move to the new LMS ahead of schedule.

For more information on what is supported in the LMS, please review the Canvas Use Standard.