Frequently Asked Questions


What is Canvas? How is it different from Chalk?
Canvas is a learning management system like Chalk. It has all of the core functionality found in Chalk, but each system operates under a different paradigm. Chalk is instructor-centered and focuses on document distribution; Canvas, a Web 2.0 platform, emphasizes the student experience and focuses on instructional interaction and collaboration. See Chalk-to-Canvas: Similarities and Differences (PDF) for 5 differences instructors need to be aware of and a Chalk-to-Canvas feature comparison chart.
Why are we moving to Canvas?

Chalk has served the campus well in the past 18 years. However, the academic use of technology has changed over time, and a modern LMS is expected to support more, and increasingly complex, activities in a user-friendly environment.

In light of this, IT Services collaborated with the Board of Computing Activities and Services (BCAS) to bring together an LMS Review Faculty Committee to recommend a direction for the next LMS for the campus.  After careful analysis of UChicago’s needs, review of the current learning management system landscape, and receiving feedback during the Canvas pilot that encompassed 65 courses, 86 instructors, and 2420 students from Fall 2014 to Fall 2015, Canvas was selected as our new LMS for the benefits it provides, including:

  • A modern and uncluttered interface
  • Easy to use, intuitive features
  • Improved mobile experience
  • Better collaboration features through Google Docs and UChicago Box integration
  • Robust environment for content authoring

Getting Started

How do I get started with Canvas?
You can get started with Canvas in a number of ways:
  1. Email to request a test course if you won’t teach until after autumn 2017. Discover and try out tools before you use them in your real course; migrate your Chalk course content over so that you have them for future reference.
  2. Take the self-paced Learn Canvas 2017 course for instructors from (CNetID login).
  3. Attend one of our upcoming workshops or walk-in sessions.
  4. Schedule a consultation to help evaluate your course and identify strategies to best leverage Canvas’ functionality.
NOTE:  Canvas transition for faculty in Booth, Law and Pritzker will be supported by their local support staff and has already begun.  Check with them to find out more about your transition timeline and support.
What type of support will be available during the transition to Canvas?
To help faculty, instructors and students transition to Canvas, we are providing workshops and support in a variety of formats:

We will also be reaching out to academic departments to offer departmental demos/workshops. Visit our Workshop Schedule page for the calendar and sign-up information. Descriptions of each workshop offered can be found on our Workshop Descriptions page.

Access and archiving

How long can I retain access to student grades, discussions, etc. in Chalk?

Beginning in summer 2017, no new for-credit course sites will be created in Chalk. Instructors and students will retain access to Chalk for reference through autumn 2018. We will begin the transition for non-credit and organizational sites in autumn 2017.

After autumn 2018, all student data (including grades and assignment submissions) will be inaccessible. Instructors may request a copy of their course material (primarily announcements, course files, and quizzes) by emailing with the course number, course title, course section number(s), academic year and quarter. However, students should download their material before Chalk is decommissioned.

Instructors and students with incomplete grades for courses in Chalk should also make appropriate arrangements to save course material, submitted work, and any other relevant material before access to Chalk ends. Students can check their final grades for all courses at

Will Chalk material be archived?
Instructors will retain access to Chalk for reference through autumn 2018. Afterwards, Chalk courses will be archived. We highly recommend that you migrate your Chalk content to Canvas while you have access to Chalk for reference since there is no clean one-to-one migration between the systems. If you are concerned about your content in Chalk, please request a consultation for a consultation and recommendations.

Content Migration

How do I copy course materials from Chalk into Canvas?
We encourage you to attend our Chalk-to-Canvas Migration workshop or follow our Chalk-to-Canvas Migration handout (PDF) to learn how to migrate your course content into Canvas. In general, we recommend downloading your course contents into your computer and rebuild your Canvas course site from scratch as it prompts instructors to make full use of Canvas’ functions and capabilities.
What will happen to all the video and audio files I uploaded to Chalk?
If your files are uploaded to Kaltura, they will automatically be available in Canvas. If you uploaded them as files, you should download them with other course documents and reupload them to Canvas.

Teaching with Canvas

How will students know where to find their course sites?
Be sure to publish your course by going to Course Home and clicking the Publish button on the right. Students can only view course sites and course content items that are published. After your course site is published, it will appear on enrolled students’ Canvas dashboards. We also suggest that you include the course URL in your syllabus and initial email to your class. Students and instructors can always log into Canvas by visiting and clicking on the “Login with CNetID” button in the header.

Organization Sites

What about my organization sites on Chalk?
Migration for organizational sites is scheduled to begin September 2017. We will be contacting organization leaders with information as the time approaches. If you would like to request a new organizational site on Canvas now, please email us at

Transition Scheduling

When do I have to start teaching in Canvas?

Starting with Summer 2017, our goal is to have all for-credit courses facilitated in Canvas. Depending on when you teach in the 2017-2018 academic year, you’ll want to plan to transition any Chalk courses to Canvas ahead of your first teaching quarter.

Non-credit courses and organizational sites are scheduled to transition later this year. Outreach to transition these sites will begin mid-late summer and continue through the autumn 2017 quarter.

NOTE:  Canvas transition for faculty in Booth, Law and Pritzker will be supported by their local support staff and has already begun.  Check with them to find out more about your transition timeline and support.

Keep in mind that you can begin migrating your materials over to Canvas ASAP even if you are not teaching in summer or autumn 2017.  We are happy to set up test courses where you begin moving and rebuilding content well in advance of the full transition in summer 2017 – just email us at to request your test courses.