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Canvas, Stanford’s Learning Management System

The Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL) hosted an open pilot of Canvas, a cloud-based learning management system by Instructure, during the 2014-2015 academic year. Canvas proved to offer functionality and workflows that faculty, students and instructional support staff have long wanted in CourseWork. After a successful pilot, Canvas has been adopted as Stanford’s primary LMS as a replacement for CourseWork. 


Read more about Canvas

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Canvas?

A Canvas pilot was conducted to determine whether it should be selected as the successor learning management system to CourseWork. User feedback from the pilot helped to determine the decision to adopt Canvas as Stanford’s primary LMS for the campus community. 

Canvas offers:

  • Collaboration and content creation for students and faculty:
  • Allow students to create and comment on pages 
  • Set up video-based web conferences instantly
  • Submit and grade group projects easily
  • Record videos and audio via webcam

Writing assignments:

  • Assign papers and readings easily
  • View Word and PDF submissions directly in the grading interface
  • Create a rubric for added grading speed
  • Let students grade peers using rubrics

Efficient workflows:

  • Bulk upload and download through drag and drop, selection or zip
  • See assignments and other items that need your attention on the Dashboard
  • Receive notifications via email, text, or in your calendar

Who is using Canvas?

  • There were over 1800 courses published in Canvas in Spring 2017.
  • During the VPTL Canvas pilot from Fall 2014 through Summer 2015 approximately 2000 faculty and students tried out Canvas in over 100 courses. 
  • In addition, several of our peer universities – who had previously used Sakai, the LMS that CourseWork is built on –, have piloted and adopted Canvas including University of California at Berkeley, University of Michigan and Indiana University.

Will I have to manually enroll students or create a new account?

No. Your course roster will be added to your Canvas site and synched with enrollment updates, so enrolled students will be able to see the course after you publish it. You and your students will login to your course using your SUNet ID and password.

How can I get help with Canvas?

Are you still supporting CourseWork?

No. CourseWork was retired on December 21, 2016.  The VPTL Canvas team migrated all CourseWork courses from Fall 2014 through Fall 2016 to Canvas. CourseWork content from Fall 2014 through Fall 2016 has been migrated to your Canvas Courses > All Courses list. Some earlier courses were migrated by request.  

The deadline for requesting migration from CourseWork has passed. Any additional content migration will be self-serve. See below for details on accessing the CourseWork Archive site.

The CourseWork Archive site is now available at Access to the archive site is by request only.  Contact us to request access to the CourseWork archive. 

Canvas and Large Course Support

Although Canvas is robust for most users, some courses such as large lecture courses, are impacted by Canvas' functional gaps. See our Large Course Support Update list for more information.

  • Large classes with section-specific content: The VPTL Canvas Team has designed a Section <-> Group cloning tool to address documented functional gaps.

Stanford Syllabus

Stanford Syllabus is a centralized online repository of syllabi for Stanford University courses. Students and their faculty advisors use the system to help them choose classes by accessing their syllabi in advance of enrolling in them.

Instructors who use Canvas may post their course syllabi to their associated course sites within Canvas. Because Canvas is integrated with Stanford Syllabus, any syllabi posted to Canvas will automatically appear in Stanford Syllabus. 

 The Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy (C-USP) originally conceived of the idea of the Stanford Syllabus, which was subsequently funded by the Provost's Office, and developed by Academic Computing. It was released to the Stanford community in Fall 2006.