UC Davis Canvas update: Migration, training, more

The transition to UC Davis Canvas is under way.

UC Davis Canvas is replacing SmartSite as the main campus learning management system (LMS) starting in 2016-17. UC Davis announced the decision in January, and the Move to Canvas project group is spending the first half of this year preparing UC Davis Canvas, talking with campus groups, answering questions, and setting up training.

Here's an update as spring quarter starts:

Status update

  • SmartSite remains the main LMS through spring 2016 quarter, and will be available through spring 2017. Here's the timeline.
  • A few faculty will start teaching with a basic version of UC Davis Canvas this summer, followed by early adopters this fall and then most of the campus in winter 2017.
  • The project team is investigating a tool that could help migrate materials from SmartSite into UC Davis Canvas, and should know more by this summer about its usability.
  • 24/7 phone support for faculty, staff and students will begin July 1. Instructure, which makes Canvas, will provide this support during the 2016-17 transition year.
  • Information and Educational Technology (IET) has hired its first students for its Educational Technology Partners program. Their duties include helping individual faculty get started with UC Davis Canvas.

A good time to start learning about it

Meanwhile, this quarter is a good time for faculty and project site owners to start taking the following steps, including:

  • Learning how the LMS works, and how you will want to use it. You can learn more by visiting the Canvas Community websites, coming to one of the UC Davis Canvas workshops that will be scheduled, or by contacting the project team at movetocanvas@ucdavis.edu.
  • Deciding when you will want to start using UC Davis Canvas.
  • Determining which materials you want to move from SmartSite. Instructors might decide to move only some of their materials to UC Davis Canvas. SmartSite project site owners might opt to switch to online services that did not exist when the campus adopted SmartSite 10 years ago, such as Box or OneDrive.
  • This year's Summer Institute on Teaching with Technology will feature workshops and presentations devoted to UC Davis Canvas. This free event for instructors, scheduled for September 9, will be a good place to ask questions, get ideas, get help, and talk with colleagues already using UC Davis Canvas.

Set aside time

IET will support faculty, staff and students throughout the transition, but individuals will need to allow time to move their materials and learn UC Davis Canvas. The LMS is not just a variation of SmartSite--it operates differently than SmartSite does.

"It'll take some time for individuals to learn UC Davis Canvas, to get to a basic state of use," said David Levin, director of Academic Technology Services for IET. "That's one reason the transition will last a year, to allow plenty of time for people to learn the system, get help if they need it, and choose their best time to migrate."

Faculty should start setting up their use of UC Davis Canvas about two months before they'll start teaching with it, Levin suggested.

The Move to Canvas website has information and resources. It contains updates, an FAQ, the timeline, a calendar that lists training and information sessions (more will be added), and contact information. Faculty might also wish to subscribe to The Wheel, the ATS instructional technology blog.

Throughout the transition, if you have questions, comments, concerns, good ideas, or just want to offer ideas on how you plan to use UC Davis Canvas, please contact the Move to Canvas project group at movetocanvas@ucdavis.edu.