U-M preparing to say goodbye to CTools course sites this fall


Beginning with the fall semester, CTools will no longer be available for U-M classes — but Canvas will.

Across the Ann Arbor campus, faculty and staff are working together to prepare for the shift in learning management systems. Since announcing the transition from CTools to Canvas nearly two years ago, the U-M Canvas team reports a steady increase in the number of courses using the system.

“About 83 percent of summer courses and 89 percent of spring/summer courses were taught in Canvas. That’s up from 64 percent during the winter term,” said Sean DeMonner, executive director of teaching and learning at Information and Technology Systems. “We continue to partner with the Canvas Unit Contacts who represent each school and college to ensure all instructors teaching courses in Canvas this fall feel supported and prepared.”

DeMonner said there are many support options for those who are new to Canvas, including e-learning, step-by-step guides, videos, and face-to-face support. Faculty can even request that their CTools resources, assignments, and tests be moved to Canvas via the Convert2Canvas service.

“We launched Convert2Canvas as direct feedback from faculty who had years of course files in CTools and were looking for an efficient way to reference and reuse many of them in Canvas,” DeMonner said. “Convert2Canvas has been extremely popular — the team processed more than 2,800 requests.”

For those who prefer hands-on, in-person support, Canvas Crew consultants are also helping faculty with their Canvas courses. The team, which offers both appointment and drop-in hours, has met with more than 100 faculty this summer.

“Chris, my Canvas Crew consultant, was just delightful. He knew three different ways to solve my issues and solved the first problem in 14 seconds,” said Kathryn Clark, a School of Kinesiology lecturer. “I recommend the Canvas Crew so highly to other faculty. They are here to help, they know what they’re talking about, and it was such a comfortable experience. If you have any questions at all, this is the place to go. “

Library, ITS, and LSA staff also will hold a Canvas Kickstart event from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 31 to provide “last minute” one-on-one support to faculty. Appointments will focus on each instructor’s most immediate needs.

Those with questions about Canvas are encouraged to contact their school or college’s Canvas Unit Contact or the ITS Service Center at 734-764-4357 or 4HELP@umich.edu.



  1. Victor Caston
    on August 10, 2016 at 7:22 am

    And what about the *Project* sites on CTools (which Canvas does not handle)?

    • Heather Kipp
      on August 10, 2016 at 9:10 am

      Hi Victor – Canvas can indeed be used for non-course uses such as facilitating collaboration, training, and research. You may request a Canvas site through the ITS Service Center or your Unit Canvas Contact.

      Having said that, we try to match the best tool for the job depending on the use case. If you need a site for staff training, Canvas is a great fit. If you primarily need to share and collaborate on files, M+Box or Google Drive may be better options for you and offer features such as unlimited storage, MCommunity group integrations, finer control of security settings, collaboration, and versioning features. A full list of suggested alternatives is available at: http://its.umich.edu/projects/ctools-project-sites/?q=alternatives

  2. Tomas Medina
    on August 10, 2016 at 8:56 am

    I wonder if old archived ctools sites will still be available ( I would hate to lose all those resources)

    • John Johnston
      on August 10, 2016 at 9:19 am

      Old CTools sites will continue to be available for you to access, so there is nothing you need to do now to retain those resources. There are also several options for transferring resources (to Canvas, M+Box, Google Drive). If you’d like to transfer materials for use in a Fall 16 Canvas site, you can contact 4help@umich.edu.

  3. Lori Deromedi
    on August 10, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Are you discontinuing CTools as a document repository site entirely? Or, are you changing it to an archive site that is read-only (i.e., no new uploads)? If either, when is the cut-off date?

    • Heather Kipp
      on August 10, 2016 at 9:54 am

      Hi Lori,

      We do not yet have a timeline for when CTools will be decommissioned. When we do know more, there will be broad communications to campus and ample time and tools to help folks move to other solutions. We are currently building tools to help CTools Project Site owners migrate their Resources to Collaboration tools on campus. We will communicate with faculty and staff to help transition project sites, provide support, and provide best practices later in the year. We do not have a set schedule of when tools will be available to campus.

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