Move to UC Davis Canvas: Summer 2016 update

This is our latest update on the transition to UC Davis Canvas, the new learning management system (LMS) for the campus.

A quick summary

  • A basic version of UC Davis Canvas is now available. Sixty-one instructors are teaching with it during Summer Session 1.
  • SmartSite will remain available for teaching through spring quarter 2017.
  • Faculty, students and staff can log in to UC Davis Canvas at
  • 2016-17 is our transition year to UC Davis Canvas. Support and training for faculty, staff and students is available, including 24/7 phone and chat support (details below).
  • For a migration timeline, links to resources, and more information, please see

Canvas status and updates

  • Instructors should consider when to start using UC Davis Canvas. A short guide is available at to help you decide. Early adopters should be comfortable with technology, and/or intend to use Canvas for basic tasks, such as sharing files and communicating with students. UC Davis Canvas will offer a fuller set of features and integrations later in the academic year.
  • All Summer Session 1 course sites were generated and loaded with enrollments prior to the start of instruction. Summer Session 2 courses have now been loaded with enrollments, and Fall courses will be added in the middle of summer. Instructors who want to start developing their course sites for future quarters can do so with “sandbox sites” that have been created for them; content created in these sites can be easily imported to a course site later.
  • Support for instructors, staff, TAs, and students is available from Instructure (the vendor) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including chat and phone support. Log in to Canvas at and click on the “Help” link in the lower left corner of any page, or call UC Davis’ Canvas hotline: 844-303-8285.
  • Workshops and office-hours update:
    • A schedule of events, including workshops and drop-in sessions, has been created at
    • Webinars about Canvas that can be viewed anytime are now available; find details at Any faculty, student or staff member at UC Davis can access them.
    • The Summer Institute on Teaching with Technology (SITT) on Friday, Sept. 9, will devote much of its agenda to UC Davis Canvas. SITT will be a good opportunity to explore UC Davis Canvas, ask questions, and learn how peers are using it. SITT is open to all UC Davis faculty and graduate instructors. Look for updates at
    • Instructors from Instructure will offer extensive workshops at UC Davis during the week of Sept. 6-9.
  • Our initial focus for 2016-17 is to transition all course sites to Canvas. If you have a project site in SmartSite that you want to re-create in UC Davis Canvas, please hold off for now.
  • Many third-party learning tools or applications work with Canvas. Several are already available for use with UC Davis Canvas, and more will follow. If you would like to use a tool that is currently not available, we ask you to send us information about the tool—we are creating a form for this purpose—so that it can be evaluated for UC Davis compatibility.

More ways to learn about Canvas

The Move to Canvas project team has been presenting information about UC Davis Canvas to colleges, departments and groups. If you would like us to present to your college or department, please email us at and we’ll set up a time to come to you. Faculty might also wish to subscribe to The Wheel, the Academic Technology Services instructional technology blog and a source of information for faculty about UC Davis Canvas; see

Throughout this transition, if you have questions, comments, concerns, ideas, or just want to tell us how you plan to use UC Davis Canvas, please contact us at

Move to UC Davis Canvas: Spring 2016 update

We plan to post short, quarterly updates on the transition from SmartSite to UC Davis Canvas. This is the first message in that series.

The basic goal for 2016-17 is to move current SmartSite users and sites into UC Davis Canvas. This will involve tens of thousands of people, and at least 18,000 course and project sites. The Move to Canvas project will support faculty and staff throughout the transition, but individuals will need to allow time to move their materials and learn the new LMS.

For now:

  • SmartSite remains the main campus learning management system, and will be through June 2016. UC Davis Canvas is not yet ready to use for instruction.
  • We are preparing training and documentation, ramping up our communications, and getting UC Davis Canvas ready so that beta users can begin using a basic version of the LMS this summer.
  • We suggest faculty and project site owners begin to learn about UC Davis Canvas, including:
    • How the LMS works, and how they will want to start using it.
    • When they will move from SmartSite to UC Davis Canvas.
    • Which materials faculty and staff want to move from SmartSite. Faculty might choose to move only some of their existing materials to UC Davis Canvas. Project site owners, rather than recreate their sites in UC Davis Canvas, might opt to use online services that did not exist when the campus adopted SmartSite 10 years ago, such as Box or OneDrive. We can offer suggestions and guidance; please come see us at one of the training sessions or workshops that we will schedule.
  • We are 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 will begin July 1, 2016.

We encourage faculty to save Sept. 9, 2016, for the one-day Summer Institute on Teaching and Technology, which this year is devoted to UC Davis Canvas. Faculty might also wish to subscribe to The Wheel, the Academic Technology Services instructional technology blog and a valuable source of events for faculty about UC Davis Canvas; visit

Curious about UC Davis Canvas? Drop by the AV Showcase March 8

You’ll have many chances to learn about UC Davis Canvas, but one of the first comes up March 8 at the AV Vendor Showcase in the ARC Pavilion. Academic Technology Services (ATS) will have a table at the event, staffed by UC Davis educational technologists who can talk with you about UC Davis Canvas, the new learning management system that will replace SmartSite starting in 2016-17.

The showcase covers much more territory than just Canvas, and you’re welcome to take in the full show if you like! (You will need to register, and can do so onsite.) But if just want to come ask some questions and learn about UC Davis Canvas, that’s fine.

The ATS crew will be at its table from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more opportunities to talk with your colleagues about UC Davis Canvas, look for updates on this website, subscribe to The Wheel, or simply contact the Move to Canvas project group.

Provost Hexter Announces UC Davis Canvas

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce that UC Davis has chosen Canvas by Instructure as our new learning management system (LMS). UC Davis Canvas will be available starting fall term 2016. It replaces SmartSite, which will remain available until spring 2017.

Large research universities with profiles comparable to ours already use and trust Canvas. It is regarded as dependable, rich with features, and intuitive. It can be integrated with campus systems and data sources, as well as with relevant third-party applications. And crucially, it has demonstrated that it can meet UC Davis’s high-level requirements in terms of usability, reliability, accessibility, security, learning tool integration, mobile use, and frequency of updates.

We selected Canvas following an extensive and inclusive vetting process. The goals of this process were, first, to understand what UC Davis requires from a learning management system as we build our future, and, second, to examine the available LMS options. We secured the participation of campus experts in accessibility, security, and other technical areas in order to make sure that Canvas meets our standards. I thank the Learning Management System (LMS) Transition Working Group for their sustained and comprehensive work on this initiative. I thank also André Knoesen, chair of the Academic Senate, for enlisting a broadly representative group of Senate faculty to review the report of the Working Group, offer feedback, and make a final recommendation. This was a true cross-campus collaboration, with extensive voluntary participation, and representation from administration/staff, students, and especially our faculty.

As I have said, SmartSite will remain available beyond the initial rollout of Canvas in fall 2016 through spring 2017. This large window should make it convenient for all individuals to move to the new LMS prior to the disappearance of SmartSite. The campus will spend the first part of 2016 preparing for the fall rollout of UC Davis Canvas.

Information and Educational Technology has posted details about the transition — including a timeline, FAQ, and resources for assistance — at:


Ralph Hexter
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616