CourseWork Retirement Information

CourseWork was retired on December 21, 2016.

The VPTL Canvas team migrated all CourseWork courses from Fall 2014 through Fall 2016 to Canvas. 

CourseWork Archive

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.


  1. Request access to the CourseWork archive site to download CourseWork content that you want to save.
  2. Check out our “For Students” page for Canvas help resources.
  3. Download Canvas app for mobile devices. (Apple iOS Canvas App for iPhone and iPad, Android Canvas App)

Instructors and Academic Support Staff:

  1. Request access to the CourseWork Archive site to download all CourseWork content from academic years prior to 2014-2015 that you’d like to save.
  2. Login to to check migrated content and see if there is any course design work you may want to do before teaching the course in Canvas.
  3. Visit our “For Instructors” page for Canvas help resources (including a Stanford Canvas QuickStart Guide, CourseWork to Canvas Comparison Chart, Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Canvas and more.)
  4. Download Canvas app for mobile devices. (Apple iOS Canvas App for iPhone and iPad, Android Canvas App)

We’re always happy to help; so please contact us if you’d like to schedule an appointment to discuss your course and get one-on-one help or stop by our Canvas Office Hours for faculty and teaching staff.

Academic Support Staff: See our “For Academic Support Staff” page for helpful resources.

Departmental Heads
: Please contact us for more info about training on Canvas for your instructors and staff.

Why did we retire CourseWork?

CourseWork, the learning management system that had served teachers and learners at Stanford since 2005, was based on an “open source” platform called Sakai. Stanford, along with 4 other universities, founded Sakai in 2004. We had continually contributed to the platform during the last 12 years, adding many features that had been requested by Stanford instructors.

Software platforms, such as Sakai, require frequent updating in order to stay current with emerging technologies and the increasing expectations of users. Occasionally, a major rewrite is required in order to ensure a platform’s continued supportability and extensibility. Although there was an effort by the open source community to develop a successor to Sakai, the project did not result in a platform that could meet the basic needs of users upgrading from Sakai.

Stanford was the last of the 5 founding universities to still be using Sakai in 2016. Although the platform continues to provide benefit to many institutions worldwide, it was no longer viable for us to maintain and enhance the platform to meet the growing needs of teaching and learning on campus here at Stanford. In choosing Canvas as the successor platform we are following in the footsteps of 3 of the 4 Sakai founding institutions and leveraging their experience and migration tools to minimize the impact on our instructors and students. As a participating member of the Canvas R1 Peer Group, which is comprised of 40 universities from across the country, we are collaborating with other universities to lobby Instructure to address major functional gaps.

How are we addressing feature gaps between CourseWork and Canvas?

As with any software migration, there is not a one-to-one mapping of features from CourseWork to Canvas. There are many new features in Canvas and an overall improved user experience. At the same time, there are features, especially ones that we have developed in response to instructors’ requests, that are missing in the new platform. Please see the Canvas Feature/Functional Gaps List and the CourseWork vs Canvas Comparison Chart for more information. The Canvas platform, although commercial, is extensible. The team is developing additional features to help fill the gaps that exist between the two platforms. For example, we developed  a Roster Photos tool that we released in Spring 2016 and are in the process of developing an Anonymous Grading of Papers feature.

Some of the differences that you will experience are more deeply rooted in the platform and cannot be changed through the development of additional tools. We are working with Instructure, the company that provides Canvas, to make the changes that will continue to improve your experience. We are working closely with peer institutions, via the Canvas R1 Peer Group, that are also Canvas users to apply pressure to Instructure in areas that are of mutual interest. Even with all this development and lobbying, there will inevitably be differences in behavior that you, the users, will have to accommodate through changes in your practices. Many of these will be minor changes in your workflow. However, others may be less efficient than your experience with CourseWork. We have a support person who is available to work with you with regards to efforts to minimize the impact of these workflow changesAt the same time we will work closely with Instructure to address your top concerns.