May 21, 2020 | The Clarion
Goodbye Sakai, hello Canvas
BC to transition to new IMS software starting summer 2020
Sakai, Brevard College’s learning management
software for more than 10 years, is soon to be
no more as the college switches to a different
The decision was actually made before the
rapid transition to online classes during spring
break, but the experience of online classes—and
the possibility of more online or hybrid classes
this fall, depending on how the pandemic
proceeds—makes all the more important
the need for a reliable and robust learning
To explain the switch to Canvas and what
students and faculty should expect, The Clarion
conducted an email interview with James
Brooks, the campus educational technologist,
who is taking the lead in the college’s transition
When does EC’s switch to Canvas begin?
The switch to Canvas has already begun.
Faculty and staff are already using Canvas and
they’re crafting courses in Canvas right now.
Students should have access within a few weeks
if not sooner.
What do you see as the main benefits of
EC’s switch to Canvas?
Canvas is better than Sakai in many ways.
First, Canvas helps organize classwork so it is
easy for students to at a glance see exactly what
needs to be done for all of their classes. It’s
simple to navigate and easy to personalize. In
addition. Canvas has an app that allows access
to class from a mobile device.
What are some key ways that Canvas will
help EC students, whether in online, hybrid,
or face-to-face classes?
I think students are really going to love the
calendar. All course assignments will be listed
there so a quick glance can give you insights into
what is due when. The calendar easily integrates
with their personal calendar.
What factors led to the decision to drop
Sakai in favor of Canvas?
Last November, we started with an analysis of
exactly what we wanted out of an LMS (learning
management tool). Then, we researched a large
variety of LMS’s and narrowed our options
down to two. In February, faculty and the student
government were invited to view demos or each
LMS and vote on which they preferred. Canvas
was the clear winner.
How is Canvas an Improvement over
Besides the streamlined student experience
and their app. Canvas has proven itself to be
innovative. One place of innovation is their
implementation of LTI tools. You can think of
LTI tools as similar to apps for a phone. Anyone
can create an LTI tool that can seamlessly be
added to Canvas. So, Canvas is constantly
With access to Sakai ending on June 30,
what should EC students do if they want to
save their submissions or graded work in
their Sakai courses?
This is important. After June 30, faculty and
students will no longer have access to Sakai.
There is no way to bulk export student work,
so if something exists within Sakai that a
student wants to use in the future, they’ll need
to download it now.
What, if anything, should EC students do to
prepare to use Canvas in the summer or fall?
Within the next few weeks, students are going
to all receive an invitation to the “Passport
to Canvas” course within Canvas. It’ll show
students how to set up the app, personalize their
notifications, and use Canvas’s tools.
If there is anything in Sakai you would like to save (e.g., graded
exams or papers, Forums posts, and the like), you must do so
BY JUNE 30. Sakai will not be accessible after June 30.
Update: Fall semester to start, finish early
BC will emulate other sehools to finish before Thanksgiving with no fall break
in hopes of avoiding COVID-19 outbreak or having to switeh to online classes
Like many other colleges and universities,
Brevard College is adjusting its fall semester
academic calendar in response to the CO VID-19
pandemic that has disrupted virtually every
aspect of life around the world, including the
rapid transition to online classes here after
As of right now, the college plans to have
in-person classes this fall, but the semester will
start and finish before Thanksgiving with no fall
break in an attempt to end before the traditional
start of cold and flu season in December.
Brevard College has been working with
all the residential colleges and universities
in the region to coordinate fall semester
opening plans and provide recommended
protocols to keep our students, faculty, staff".
and community safe during the pandemic. In
addition, area colleges have been working with
the Mountain Area Health and Education Center
(MAHEC) to come up with a customized and
comprehensive protocol in the next few weeks
for implementation on each of our campuses.
Specific plans for the fall semester right now
are as follows:
• Classes begin on Aug. 17,2020 and end on
Nov. 20, 2020.
• Fall Semester exams will begin on Nov. 21
and end by Nov. 25, 2020.
• Due to the condensed semester, there will
be no fall break
Check-in days in August will also be staggered:
• Students will be notified over the summer
as to their individualized check in date.
New students will be scheduled to move in
between Aug. 9-12 and Returners will be
scheduled between Aug. 13-16.
• Students need to limit their guests to two
persons on check in date and time.
• Volunteers will assist students with moving
into the residence halls.
Faculty and administration are looking at
options for the starting and ending dates for the
Plans are still being made for student-athletes
for the coming school year. The USA South
athletic conference is developing a plan for
the 2020-2021 athletics schedule following the
NCAA guidelines to minimize opportunities for
exposure to the Novel Coronavirus.