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The Daily Tar Heel

Editorial: UNC, just choose one.

As UNC transitions from Sakai to Canvas, many students must access course material on both sites.

Every now and then, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get coursework done. We roll out of bed, caffeinate and head to one of two sites: Canvas or Sakai. These two websites are the foundation of our education at UNC, and have recently become pillars of the American college experience, right along with not having enough meal swipes and sleeping through 8 a.m. classes.

The digital age has touched every aspect of modern life, and as it applies to students, it has revolutionized the way we learn. Canvas, Sakai and other learning platforms, like Google Classroom, have made course resources more accessible and convenient than ever before. Lesson materials, lectures and assignments can be viewed from essentially anywhere. 

With tools like Canvas and Sakai, skipping class is no longer a waste of thousands of dollars and a GPA death sentence, freeing us up to do better things with our time — like sleeping through the aforementioned 8 a.m. classes.

This new mode of learning comes with some drawbacks, though. What we used to do with paper and raised hands, we now do through six different websites, multiple apps, a digital calendar and — at UNC — two separate but functionally similar learning platforms. It’s difficult enough for the modern student to stay organized, and having to go between Canvas and Sakai to access our classes doesn’t help. They serve the same purpose, so why don’t we just choose one?

Canvas has its upsides. In many regards, the interface is cleaner than Sakai's, and with the time many of us spent on Canvas in high school, navigating it feels intuitive. Canvas modules make it easier to separate a class into different units – a structure that many courses already follow. It also feels more flexible, as it allows you to edit discussion posts and play around with grades in the "gradebook," — features that, at the very least, we haven't figured out how to do on Sakai. 

But honestly, Sakai has sentimental value. We are hard-pressed to find any sort of meaningful difference between the two. As learning platforms, Canvas and Sakai are basically the same. 

Some of us are still 100 percent on Sakai. Some of us are navigating courses on both Canvas and Sakai. Few of us have made the complete transfer to using Canvas for all courses. 

This mismatch creates more room for chaos, especially as the semester gets hectic. Assignments fly under the radar. Announcements get missed. Email notifications start piling up. It’s the little stuff that can overwhelm you. 

Canvas and Sakai both work. What one can do, the other can probably do just fine. Faculty and students have shown that they can use both, but is using both concurrently really necessary?