Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology

Cal Poly is Moving to Canvas!

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 Why Canvas?

Cal Poly’s move to Amazon Web Services (AWS) is driving campus advancements in technology through the adoption of modern, cloud-based technologies that will enable closure of the on-campus data center.  Moving the PolyLearn Learning Management System (LMS) out of the campus data center will be required in the upcoming months due to the expiration of server support upon which PolyLearn runs. Due to significant changes in the LMS market since the 2010 Cal Poly implementation of PolyLearn (Moodle), it was important to review what LMS would position Cal Poly for the future by supporting our diverse pedagogical needs, incorporating native mobile features, and complying with accessibility requirements. It has been determined that Canvas, developed by Instructure, will serve as our next-generation LMS to best provide Cal Poly with a flexible and integrated learning platform. For a quick Canvas overview, view the Instructor video. You can also learn more about the Gradebook (video) and the Speedgrader (video) tools.

Canvas is currently in use at 8 other CSU campuses, all but three UC campuses, and the entire California Community College system. With this high rate of adoption in the state, there are additional advantages to be gained in continuity, contracting, and support. Due to the advantages in service, integration, and overall pedagogy that Canvas provides, the campus will not be continuing with Moodle, but rather transitioning to Canvas by Fall 2020.

Canvas offers instructors the following improvements:

  • A SpeedGrader for quick entry of text or video feedback for grading
  • More grade display options and easy activity weighting 
  • Ability to save all courses you teach within the system (i.e., courses will not be deleted) 
  • A clean, intuitive design with less "clicks"
  • A mobile app that allows you to access courses, grade assignments, and communicate with students  
  • Course modules to ease the organization of content and assignments 
  • Any calendar changes automatically update within the syllabus and course modules 
  • A way to connect coursework with competencies and learning outcomes
  • A learner-centered approach 
  • Vastly improved content management tools 
  • Ability to record and add video right in the course as well as embed external videos 
  • An accessibility checker built into the text editor that guides users through fixes 
  • Early alert tools that provide course analytics and a graphical overview of students' course activity
  • An open platform that allows for the incorporation of many third-party apps 
  • Continuous updates and significant changes to the system can be scheduled between quarters to avoid interruptions


The campus transition to Canvas will occur over the next 18 months. Beginning in Winter 2020, early adopters can begin building their Spring courses in the new LMS.  During Spring and Summer of 2020, faculty will have the option of continuing with Moodle or transitioning to Canvas. The full implementation of Canvas will take place in Fall 2020. More details and the opportunity to use Canvas as an early adopter will be announced. We recognize that this effort will require time and energy, and we will provide support to ease the transition. Thank you in advance for your partnership in this campus-wide endeavor. 

Winter 2020 Spring 2020 Summer 2020 Fall 2020
Moodle only,
Canvas available
for course design
Moodle & Canvas Moodle & Canvas Only Canvas


Currently faculty can work in Canvas this summer to learn more about the tools and try the self migration. The Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology (CTLT) will assist you this summer by providing an online self-paced course, online discussions, face-to-face & video consultations. 

During the "production" (Winter - Fall 2020) timeline, the CTLT will be providing online resources, workshops, face-to-face consultations, synchronous video consultations, email, and phone support. Additionally, we are working to acquire 24/7 Canvas email/phone support during the migration period. 

Canvas Support Resources

Canvas Guides & Support
Canvas Community
SpeedGrader Video
Assignment Overview Video
Peer Review Overview Video
Gradebook Overview Video
Group Collaboration Video


Most of your Moodle content will migrate into Canvas, but your courses will need to be redesigned to fit the new LMS layout. The intuitive user interface and time-saving tools will help ease the transition. Support will be available to assist you with redesign. Once Canvas has imported your content, instructional guides, self-paced online courses, workshops, and consultations will be available through the CTLT. If you would like to learn more now, learn more about the Sandbox.

Moodle to Canvas Migration Quick Start Guide (PDF)

PolyLearn - Moodle Backups

Current PolyLearn - Moodle course shells will be imported into Canvas for faculty. If you would like to have your own copy of your Moodle courses, you can backup the Moodle course and save the MBZ file to OneDrive. This MBZ file could be used in other Moodle systems or imported into Canvas at a later date. 


The CTLT can provide access to the Cal Poly Canvas Sandbox or you can use the free space. You can work on your course redesign now and over the Summer 2019. If you have a current Cal Poly account (my.calpoly.edu) and would like a Cal Poly Canvas Sandbox account and course shell, please fill out the online form. We will add you to the self-pace online course for migrating Moodle into Canvas. The Sandbox content can be uploaded into the Canvas Commons (private for you only) or saved to be placed into our production Canvas system in Winter 2020. 

NOTE: This sandbox space will not have students, student participation or student grades. This is only a temporary space provided by Canvas to allow us to test out PolyLearn - Moodle migration and learn the tools. It is a great opportunity for us to get some time-on-task before the production system is available in 2020. This space is only supported by the LMS Support Team. Please email polylearnsupport@calpoly.edu or place comments and questions within the self-paced online course. 


Please email polylearnsupport@calpoly.edu if you have any migration questions, question about Canvas, or general questions about the LMS. 


Canvas offers students the following improvements:

  • A mobile app that allows students to access courses, submit assignments, participate in discussions, and view their grades 
  • A more learner-centered approach 
  • A clean, intuitive design with less "clicks"
  • A current to-do list viewable per single course or for all current courses 
  • All courses will be saved within the system (courses will not be deleted) 
  • Course modules designed for better organization of content and assignments 
  • A synchronized calendar that is aligned with the syllabus and course modules 
  • The ability to link the Canvas calendar to a calendar app 
  • Vastly improved content management tools 
  • The ability to record and add video within the course 
  • An open platform that allows instructors to use a multitude of third-party apps 
  • Continuous updates and significant changes to the system can be scheduled between quarters to avoid interruptions

For a quick Canvas overview, view the student video


The Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology (CTLT) will be providing online resources, email and phone support. Additionally, we are working to acquire 24/7 Canvas email/phone support during the migration period.

Canvas Support Resources

Canvas Guides & Support 

Frequently Asked Questions

Where will my school work go after we move from Moodle to Canvas?
We are currently working on a solution. Cal Poly will need to retain at least a year's worth of Moodle student participation. 
How will I access Canvas?
Through the Cal Poly Portal (my.calpoly.edu) just like you currently access PolyLearn (Moodle). 



Message from Provost Enz Finken re: Cal Poly's Next Generation Learning Management System ( PNG  |  TXT)

This page will be updated on a regular basis. Please return to this page for future updates.

last updated: 5/24/19


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