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Wits moves to a modern, stable learning management system

- Wits University

CANVAS, a modern, stable Learning Management System (LMS).

Wits University is moving from Sakai to CANVAS, a modern, stable Learning Management System (LMS), with over 30 million users globally. Our new LMS will be known as ‘Ulwazi’ which means ‘knowledge’ in isiZulu.

Q: Why is Wits moving to a new Learning Management System?

A: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wits University implemented Emergency Remote Teaching in April 2020, and teaching and learning was primarily conducted through the Sakai LMS. Unfortunately, Sakai did not hold up well under pressure and is not stable. 

In 2021, while the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, we must continue teaching in an online mode. We are therefore moving to CANVAS (Ulwazi) as our new LMS for the 2021 academic year.

Q: Is it in line with the University’s new Teaching and Learning Plan?

A: Absolutely. It is not only in line with Wits’ Teaching and Learning Plans for 2021, but is also critical for the University’s long-term blended Teaching and Learning Plan 2020 – 2024.

Q: What is CANVAS?

A: CANVAS (Ulwazi) is a powerful, modern, easy to use learning management system hosted in the Cloud. It can be accessed via the web and a proper mobile app.

Q: When can academics start using CANVAS (Ulwazi)?

A: All active Sakai course sites from 2020 are being migrated en masse, and should be available by the end of January 2021, in time for the new academic year. Staff will be able to access CANVAS (Ulwazi) later this week.

Q: Are resources available for staff?

A: The Centre for Learning, Teaching and Development (CLTD) has created online resources to help staff get started with CANVAS (Ulwazi). These resources and self-help guides can be accessed via this link:  

From 1 February 2021, the CLTD will also offer online training for staff members. Faculty online learning designers will offer faculty-based support. Technical support is available via

Q: Will Sakai sites still be accessible?

A: Sakai sites will still be accessible to lecturers for reference purposes throughout 2021. Sakai will remain active for the first teaching block only for courses that begin before 15 February 2020.

Q: Can academics continue using Sakai?

A: No. Sakai is not a stable system. In order to ensure that teaching and learning goes smoothly, we need all academics to use CANVAS (Ulwazi) in 2021.

Q: When can staff expect more information?

A: A communique will be sent out later this week with information on how to log onto CANVAS (Ulwazi), as well as details of the steps in the changeover process and timeframes.

Q: Where can staff get more information?

A: Visit OR contact Shane Pachagadu at CLTD via OR contact the Assistant Deans: Teaching and Learning in Faculties.