Scaffold Migration

Saint Mary’s University

Archiving 21,000 Courses in a Weekend: K16 Impresses Minnesota University with Its Accurate and Cost-Effective DataArchiving Solution

Cost Savings & Convenience with DataArchiving

Founded in 1912, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (SMUMN) is a private institution serving 5,000 students on three campuses in the state, plus online. SMUMN offers undergraduate, bachelor’s completion, master’s and doctoral degrees, plus graduate certificates. With its Lasallian Catholic tradition, SMUMN ensures the student experience is at the forefront of everything it does.

To support the migration from two learning management systems (LMS) into a new single LMS, SMUMN leaders sought help for its migration efforts to Canvas. Operating on a lean budget, SMUMN also wanted a cost-effective option to maintain old-course archives while ensuring they were accurate, complete, and integrated with Canvas. K16 not only migrated 2,200 courses but used its DataArchiving solution, in partnership with Instructure, to archive the course content, student submissions, and grades for 21,000 historical courses.


Cut Costs on Archiving

One major hassle when migrating to a new LMS is arranging how to handle old courses. It can be expensive to maintain content, which is rarely used but must be retained, on the prior system. SMUMN was self-hosted, so it would have needed to move archives to the cloud or pay annual fees to keep the files on the legacy LMS. The university estimates it would cost several thousand dollars more annually to maintain archives on the old system than with DataArchiving by K16.

Integration with Canvas

Besides cost, a lack of integration with Canvas would make historical content residing on the legacy LMS difficult to use. Retrieval of student data, like grades and submissions, can be complicated, but accessing and re-using course content becomes labor intensive without the integrations that DataArchiving provides. An incomplete solution would burden faculty and staff, which could ultimately impact the students, SMUMN’s number one priority.

Achieve Hassle-free Migration

SMUMN wanted more consistency in its new LMS, Canvas. The university had used course templates for some of their courses, but not universally across the institution. SMUMN also wanted the flexibility to migrate courses in pieces, a process that worked better for its mix of programs and staffing levels.

“K16 captured every archived course. It was a relief. It was all there and ready to go.”

- Abe Hedtke, Director of Instructional Technology


SMUMN administrators had doubts that K16 could migrate its courses to Canvas in a ready-to-teach manner and with little or no clean-up needed. Usually, this type of work involves a lot of IT support from the client, despite what the vendor promises, one administrator said.

SMUMN has a mix of undergraduate residential programs and large graduate programs. Some courses are taught online synchronously and asynchronously. The university did not want to migrate everything at once, saying it would have frustrated faculty and ultimately affected students. Instead, K16 accommodated SMUMN’s desire to have content moved by program once SMUMN had each program ready to migrate. “We were able to work at our own pace,” said Abe Hedtke, Director of Instructional Technology at SMUMN. The university didn’t have course templates across the board, so K16 created a course template for each class, making navigation more consistent for students and faculty.

K16’s promises on archiving were even harder to believe, as SMUMN faced a tight deadline to move the many files. The university’s policy is to archive three years’ worth of every course taught. SMUMN had initially planned to archive student data on their legacy LMS, but once presented with a better archiving solution by K16 Solutions, they realized they needed to quickly move 21,000 old courses over the weekend before the legacy LMS contract expired.

SMUMN discovered content migrated by K16 was ready to teach in Canvas, and archives landed in a specific folder for easy management by the university’s staff. K16’s involvement saved the small university countless hours of staff time. “If we had to do everything, we wouldn’t be done yet,” said Hedtke, adding SMUMN probably would have run out of storage space.

It wasn’t long before SMUMN’s doubts disappeared. Administrators liked K16’s quick response time, accuracy, and strong communication skills. “K16 is one of the better third parties I’ve ever worked with as a vendor,” said Hedtke, adding, “they were phenome-nal to work with.” Tianna Johnson, Assistant Vice President for Information Technology at SMUMN, commented, “It’s been a really good partnership.”


Money Saved

SMUMN estimates that K16’s DataArchiving solution saved the small school $8,000 or more annually. “We don’t have deep pockets. We run very lean,” said Hedtke. “With K16, they’ve allowed us to continue to run lean. So it’s a piece that’s very appealing to us. What they do for the price, no one comes close to it.”

Ease of moving Archives to Canvas

With a simple “Sync to Canvas” button, archived courses migrate entirely and in their correct format. “It literally is a one-button transfer,” said Hedtke. “Everything maps itself over to Canvas with one click.” And it’s fast, taking fewer than 10 minutes to move an archived course.

Simple Management of Archives

K16 maintains the back-end of the archiving system, giving SMUMN a sense of security. “I don’t wake up wondering if there will be a log-in issue,” said Hedtke. “I don’t have to worry about the archives being up. It’s a very stable and consistent archive.” K16’s support also frees up SMUMN’s small team to work on other priorities. “It’s just taken care of by K16,” said Johnson. “Knowing we don’t have to worry about it is very nice.” SMUMN also likes that it keeps control of who can access the archives and can easily add staff to the list when needed.

Flexible Migration Process

SMUMN set its own schedule for the migration. ”There wasn’t pressure on us to have things ready by a specific day or time. They were just ready for us. They were able to be very flexible,” said Hedtke. Feedback from faculty and staff was very positive post migration. “Faculty did not have to do a lot of work on their end,” Hedtke said. ”The word everyone used was intuitive and seamless.”