Sakai to Canvas Migration Information


Sakai has been the LMS at St. Lawrence for over a decade and used by nearly all our faculty to host their course content, communication, and assessments each semester. 

The purpose of this page is to provide information on the various options to help make the transition to Canvas, as smooth as possible.

Please take the time to review all the information below.

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

  • Most of the standard instructional content created on Sakai can be migrated using one of the options below.
  • Other items may need to be moved or archived manually.
  • We recommend reviewing the section at the bottom for more detail on expectations.
  • Need Help? EdTech is always available for a consultation.  


What are the options for content migration?

  1. utilizing the Steps for Self-Migration below, you can choose to do it and then build your course.
  2. you can submit a request for IT to migrate content for you.


Steps for Self-Migration 

Export Sakai Course Content

Although Canvas allows you to import Sakai content, you must first export a Common Cartridge file from Sakai. This will transfer content from Sakai Assignments, Forums, Test & Quizzes, and Resources, using the Lessons tool. Note: Simply following these steps below, will give you a file you can save for future use to retrieve content.

You do not need to have used the lessons tool previously to follow these steps: 

  1. Make sure any tests, quizzes, assignments, forums in Sakai are published. The dates do not need to be current, but this process will not export items in a 'draft' state.
  2. Navigate to ANY “Lessons” page in your Sakai site you want to copy FROM.
    • If your site does not have the “Lessons” tool currently, add it to your site:
    • Go to “Site Info” left -> “Manage Tools” and check “Lessons” then click “Continue”.
  3. On any lesson page, click “More Tools”.
  4. Choose “Export CC”.
  5. Select “Use newest version of file (version 1.3), recommended for Canvas” option.
  6. If you had question pools this will include all the questions that you have added to “Pools” from all your courses (only do this once)
  7. Wait. The process may take some time, especially for large courses.
  8. Look in your “Downloads” folder on your own computer, you should see a file named "sakai-export.imscc"
  9. Since ALL courses will download with this file name; once downloaded - do one course at a time and rename this file to indicate the course (e.g. "biol101fa21.imscc”)
  10. If you are not teaching this course for a while, you can simply store this file somewhere secure for use later.

Import Sakai Content to Canvas

  1. If you do not have a course in Canvas to import to, simply submit a service request to IT to have a sandbox course created.
  2. In Canvas, go to the course and click “Settings”
  3. Click “Import Content into this course” (in the right-hand column of options)
  4. For “Content Type”, choose “Common Cartridge 1.x Package”
  5. Choose the imscc file that you exported from Sakai
    • Hopefully, you renamed it; if not, it will have a name similar to “sakai-export.imcc”
  6. The recommendation is to choose “Select specific content”.
  7. Click “Import”
  8. Wait. This may take a while depending on the size of your course and how many files your course has stored.
  9. Under “Current Jobs” canvas will either indicate “Completed” or “Waiting for Select” (depending on whether you chose to import all content, or select specific content).
    • If you see “Waiting for Select” click “Select Content”, then place check marks next to the items you want to import.
    • If you see “Completed” Canvas may also show an “Issues” link - you can click “Issues” to see what problems Canvas ran into.
  10. Once Canvas indicates the “Common Cartridge” job is “Completed” you can will be presented with an option to select content.
    • Depending on what was in you Sakai courses, you may see options for: Modules, Assignments, Discussions, Files (Resources), Quizzes, and Pages.
    • Choosing either Modules or Pages is not recommended as it will bring in Sakai lesson page content in a disorganized fashion.
    • The other options (Assignments, Discussions, Files, Quizzes) will bring in content to those corresponding areas of Canvas where you can make final adjustments and changes.
  11. Be sure to review the list of potential problems and things to check, below. 
  12. Finally be sure to edit assignment, discussions, and test/quiz settings and check/update all questions associated with test/quizzes.



What content will be migrated from Sakai to Canvas?

  • First, similar to copying a course in Sakai, only content created by the instructor will be copied. Student-created content such as assignment submissions, discussion posts, or quiz results will not be copied. 


If it was used, the Overview page can be migrated by IT to a Canvas page and set as the Canvas Front Page.


Assignments will be migrated to Canvas Assignments. It should also be noted that Assignments in Canvas will actually represent ALL gradable work (including also Quizzes and Discussions). Canvas Assignments will also be used to create items in the gradebook. This is important to remember since it will look different from Sakai Assignments post migration. Due dates will be removed and Gradebook settings will need to be recreated.


Sakai Discussion topics will be migrated to Canvas Discussions; however, Canvas does not have separate forum sections. Forums and Topics will both be included in Canvas Discussions.


Sakai Gradebook can be migrated to the Canvas Grades. Categories and weights moving from Sakai to Canvas are not configured in the Canvas Gradebook, and will need to be set up in the Canvas Assignments tool.


Sakai Lessons can migrate to Canvas Modules; however, there are organizational differences between Sakai Lessons and Canvas Modules. If IT does the migration, we will organize the content in as close as possible to the order flow reflected in the source lesson pages, but it will be particularly important for instructors to check over this content. Faculty electing to migrate content themselves using the steps outlined below, should not select lessons and should rebuild learning paths in modules (recommended).

Prerequisite/conditional release settings, checklists, and questions embedded directly in Lessons do not migrate to Canvas.


Sakai Resources will be migrated to Canvas Files.

There are some important differences with Canvas Files:

  • Canvas Files is intended for site storage of files not for direct access by students. Faculty should add files to Modules for students to access.
  • Hyperlinks/URL’s stored in Sakai Resources do not work in Canvas Files. If IT does the migration, hyperlink/URLs will be pasted into a Canvas Module titled “Resource Links”. These links can be moved to other Modules or deleted as needed.
  • If Resource files were renamed with a display name in Sakai, the display name will not come over in Canvas only the original file name.
  • IT will not rename these files and they will need to be manually renamed in modules

Test & Quizzes

Sakai Test & Quizzes can be migrated to Canvas Quizzes. The directions below will bring over quizzes, but settings for due dates/availability will need to set up for the new course. Attachments within Sakai Quizzes will not migrate over automatically. It is very important faculty preview ALL assessments using the Canvas student view to ensure it is ready to distribute to students.

Question Banks can be imported by IT, but Canvas does not currently have sub folders to organize question banks. Sub folder can be imported by IT but will need to renamed to include the name of the folder with the sub pool name. For example, if the folder is named 'Exam 1' and then sub pools of '16.1' and '16.2', the new name will be 'Exam 1 - 16.1' and 'Exam 1 - 16.2' respectively.

There are certain question types that are not available in Canvas so it is critical that you check over all exams before distributing to students. The following are questions types that cannot be migrated:

  • Extended Matching
  • Calculated Question
  • Student Audio Response
  • Survey
  • Survey - Matrix of Choices
  • Numeric Response that include multiple range values

External Tools

The list of all external tools currently utilized in Sakai will be examined and integrated by IT for use in Canvas. Similar to Sakai, these tools can be added to the side navigation in the Canvas course for access.

Sakai Tools Not Migrated

The content below will not be migrated from Sakai to Canvas. If anything below is heavily used and you are concerned about losing it, please Contact Educational Technologies to discuss available options.

  • Announcements
  • Student created content and communications (files, grades, assignment submissions, etc.)
  • Attendance
  • Blogs
  • Chat Room
  • Drop box
  • PostEm
  • Sakai Rubrics
    • Canvas does have a robust Rubric tool, but grading parameters will need to be recreated with it.


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Article ID: 137936
Wed 5/11/22 9:59 AM
Wed 3/15/23 10:57 AM

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