Sakai to Canvas Transition: Concerns, Training,
& Timing Survey Findings

As the academic landscape continues to evolve, so do the tools and platforms that support teaching and learning. In early April, the announcement was made that all 5C undergraduate schools, including Pomona College, would move from Sakai to Canvas as the primary Learning Management System (LMS).  
 
Building on the insights gained from previous surveys during Pomona’s Canvas LMS pilot — which yielded overwhelmingly positive feedback from both faculty and students– ITS recently distributed a follow-up survey titled “Input on Sakai to Canvas Transition: Concerns, Training and Timing. This survey was designed to gain a deeper understanding of faculty sentiments and concerns as Pomona transitions fully to Canvas. The goal of this recent survey was to aid in fostering a smooth transition process and assist ITS in addressing any apprehensions effectively. 

Survey Results

The survey was available for a duration of two weeks and achieved a strong level of participation. ITS received a total of 79 responses, however because of the need in capturing specific input from a variety of user types, not all respondents answered the entire survey. Some completed only the initial question and the closing comments section, while others responded to more sets of questions. Because of this, each question was analyzed based only on the number responding to that particular question. Still, these findings provide valuable insights into the collective voice of faculty members as they navigate this significant change. 

Survey Groups

To accommodate the diverse levels of experience with Canvas among Pomona faculty, the initial survey question asked respondents to categorize themselves into one of four distinct groups. These groups included, those who are on Sakai and have not begun moving courses to Canvas, those who are using Canvas and have moved at least one course from Sakai, those who are only using Canvas and have no courses to move from Sakai, and those who do not utilize either LMS. 

Branching Question

This initial question asked: “Tell us where you are in a Sakai to Canvas migration”. Out of the 79 total respondents, 71% (56) indicated that they are only using Sakai and have not migrated any courses to Canvas (figure 1). Of these 56, only 46 submitted answers for their group’s remaining survey questions. While 71% represents a significant portion of the respondents, it’s important to note that this figure may not fully represent those who are already using Canvas and might have opted out of the survey. According to data directly from Canvas there has been a substantial increase in adoption, with approximately 140 “Teacher” roles active during the Spring 2024 semester, compared to only 26 during the same period last year when Canvas was still in the early stages of its pilot phase. 

Tell us where you are in a Sakai to Canvas Migration

Fig. 1: Results from initial question used to group respondents

Concerns & Challenges

Respondents to the initial survey question who indicated that they are using Sakai and have not yet migrated any course to Canvas were presented a series of questions related to the upcoming move to Canvas. Likewise, those that responded that they are using Canvas and have migrated at least one course from Sakai were asked similar questions. 

The first question in this series asked the Sakai only respondents to rank their top three concerns from a provided list of six concerns along with an “Other” option where they could leave comments. Overwhelmingly, the concern with the highest number of first place rankings, as well as high rankings overall was, “recreating my Sakai site” (figure 2).  

Similarly, those who have migrated a course to Canvas were asked to rank the challenges they faced when moving from Sakai to Canvas. Consistently we see, “recreating my Sakai site” as the number one challenge (figure 3). This highlights the need for targeted support and resources to address this significant challenge as more faculty and instructional staff make the transition to Canvas. 

Please rank your top three concerns regarding a move from Sakai to Canvas 

Fig. 2: Overall top 3 concerns from faculty respondents who have not yet moved a course from Sakai to Canvas. 

Please rank what your top three challenges were when moving from Sakai to Canvas 

Fig. 3: Overall top 3 challenges faced by faculty respondents who have moved at least one course from Sakai to Canvas. 

Input

Both groups were asked how they would like to continue giving input on the LMS “landscape”. “Through occasional surveys like this” was found to be the favorite, with 77% of all respondents selecting this choice. “Through ITS Open Demos and Training Sessions” came in second with 42%, followed closely by, “Through Direct Communication with the ITS Instructional Team” (figure 4). 

How would you like to continue giving input on the Learning Management System (LMS) “landscape”? 

Fig. 4: Combined results of those who have already moved at least one course to Canvas and those who have not yet moved a course to Canvas. 

Training Engagement

The same two groups were asked about the most convenient times for training. While respondents from both groups were able to choose from multiple options the preferred choice for the majority was, “Summer Break: A period of concentrated training without the demands of regular classes” (figures 5 and 6). Those that have yet to migrate a course to Canvas, were also asked to indicate which specific summer month would be most beneficial for their training needs. Responses for May were more abundant, though the tail end of summer was not far behind. 

When would it be most convenient for you to engage in training and course migration activities for Canvas? 

Fig. 5: Results from respondents who have not yet moved a course from Sakai to Canvas 

When was it most convenient for you to engage in training and course migration activities for Canvas? 

Fig. 6: Results from respondents who have moved at least one course from Sakai to Canvas

The last question specific to the pre and post Sakai to Canvas instructor groups asked respondents to rank their preferred methods of training. Unlike the previous questions, potential answers here differed as those who have already moved to Canvas may have taken part in Canvas pilot programs offered at the time. Despite these differences, accessing a self-paced online training course was the second most popular choice for both groups. For pre-move respondents, those yet to migrate, the top choice was to attend an intensive paid training (figure 7). Meanwhile the overall top selection for post-move respondents, those who had already moved, was one-on-one consultations with ITS staff (figure 8).

What are your top 3 preferred methods of training and support for Canvas course migration? 

Fig. 7: Overall top 3 preferred methods of training from faculty respondents who have not yet moved a course from Sakai to Canvas 

What were your top 3 preferred methods of training and support for Canvas course migration? 

Fig. 8: Overall top 3 preferred methods of training received by faculty respondents who have moved at least one course from Sakai to Canvas 

Interestingly, the number four pick overall for the post-move group, “Other: Please Specify”, actually received a higher number of responses indicating that it was the number one choice to individual respondents with three marking it as their top choice versus the two who marked one-on-one consultations. The comments under “Other” indicated a combination of self-teaching methods, using search engines such as Google, and a Zoom training session. 

Additional Comments

All respondents were asked, “is there anything additional you’d like to share with us to better plan for and support Pomona’s transition to Canvas”. The comments here ranged from questions, concerns, and critiques to praise for Canvas itself.  While only a sampling of comments received are shown below, know that ITS takes every comment into consideration and will help to guide us on the best path forward in this process. 

Is there anything additional you’d like to share with us to better plan for and support Pomona’s transition to Canvas? 

  • Canvas is way better than Sakai in most regards but does have a few annoying quirks…” 
  • …setup a forum where people could ask others for solutions…” 
  • One on one training with an ITS member really helped me. Thank you so much, ITS, for supporting us with your great work!” 
  • I would like Sakai to be archived for a longer time...” 
  • I have anxiety about this change.” 
  • I guess we need to do it. I am emotionally attached to Sakai, but clearly it’s time to move on. Thank you, ITS for helping the with transition.” 

Through the qualitative feedback left we saw many common themes such as apprehension to the move from Sakai to Canvas and the desire for automated migrations. There were also numerous comments asking for a function similar to Sakai Dropbox. Please be assured that we are taking all of these concerns seriously and are actively investigating thoroughly. We will be able to share more about many of these items in the near future. 

Conclusion

The announced transition from Sakai to Canvas has been met with a range of sentiments and concerns from faculty members, as revealed in the recent survey. Despite apprehensions in recreating course sites and other potential challenges during this transition, it is evident that many are eager to engage with Canvas and contribute to shaping its implementation. 

The survey findings underscore the importance of ongoing communication and support from ITS as we navigate this transformative change. The overwhelming preference for occasional surveys, along with other modes of input, highlights the need for continuous dialog and collaboration as we move forward. 

As we prepare for the full adoption of Canvas, the insights gathered from this survey will serve as a valuable resource in guiding further training initiatives and support mechanisms. 

We would like to extend our gratitude to all faculty members who participated in this and all previous surveys, as well as those who participated in the Canvas pilot program. 

Appendix

Previous Canvas Pilot Survey Results

Fall 2022 Canvas Pilot Findings 

Spring 2023 Canvas Pilot Findings 

Survey Instruments