Canvas How-To: Importing and Migrating Courses

This page contains basic instructions for importing content into an existing Canvas course. The content can be from another Canvas course, a Moodle or Blackboard course archive, a SCORM package, or a QTI quiz file.

Copy/Import a Canvas Course

Import content from another Canvas course into the current one easily.

  1. Open the current course (you'll import into this course).
  2. On the course home page, click Import Existing Content on the right.
    Button to import existing content
  3. On the next page, choose Copy a Canvas Course from the Content Type menu, and then locate and select the course that will be imported. The course list is arranged by term for easier identification.
    copy a canvas course and choose the course from your list of courses
  4. Select All content to import all the content into the current course.
  5. Click Import to start the import.
    Select all content and click Import
    Note: choose "Select specific content" if you want to include only certain course items/activities/materials as part of the import. You will be prompted to choose those items after clicking the Import button.

When the import process is complete, your course materials are ready to be used.

Import a Blackboard or Moodle archive

If you have a .zip archive of either a Blackboard or Moodle course, you can import that from the Import Existing Content page.

  1. Open the current course (you'll import into this course).
  2. On the course home page, click Import Existing Content on the right.
  3. On the next page, select Blackboard 6/7/8/9 or Moodle 1.9/2.x as appropriate from the Content Type menu.
    Blackboard and Moodle import choices
  4. Select All content and click Import.

To view the imported content, click the Home link in the navigation menu. In both Blackboard and Moodle imports, Canvas will change the course home page to the Modules page.

After the Import - Blackboard

Scroll down for Moodle import information

What Goes Where and What Do You End Up With?

When importing a Blackboard course export package into a blank Canvas shell, you can expect the following results.  Please note that Canvas is continually updating the Blackboard import process, and some of the issues reported below might not be present at the time of your conversion.

  1. Canvas course home page is set to the Modules page.
    Canvas makes the executive decision to use the Modules page as the course home page.  All Canvas courses need a "home page" and so Modules is the choice after a conversion.  You can change this later to one of Canvas's other options, if desired.
  2. Bb Content Areas are converted to Canvas modules.
    Every item in a Bb Content Area is converted into a corresponding Canvas type, if possible, and placed into the module created from the Bb Content Area:
    • Bb Items w/content >>> Canvas Pages (including attached files)
    • Bb Items w/o content + attached files >>> Canvas File in Canvas module
    • Bb Files >>> Canvas File in module
    • Bb Folder >>> Canvas module (minus any description)
      • Caveat: The "folder" organizational metaphor does not exist in Canvas. Nested folders in a Bb course are no longer nested in Canvas but instead appear at the same hierarchical level (perhaps indented visually) on the Canvas Modules page. Because it does not have "folders", Canvas does not support the metaphor wherein a user “drills down” deeper to view content. The closest analogy is the module and all modules are present on the Modules page all the time.
  3. The layout of modules in Canvas will reflect the heirarchical organization of the original Bb Content Area.
    • Example: if the first item in a Bb Content Area was a folder, then that folder and its contents (including any sub-folders and their contents) will now appear at the top of the new Canvas module. The next item in the Content Area will then be processed by the import.
  4. Discussion forums are converted to Canvas Discussions, including the forum description.
    • Caveat: Forum grade settings are not converted and must be reset.
  5. Tests are converted to Canvas Quizzes
    • Caveat 1: Most but not all Bb question types have an equivalent in Canvas - e.g., Hot Spot is not available.
    • Caveat 2: Test settings are not converted and must be reset using Canvas's tools.
  6. Assignments are converted to Canvas Assignments
  7. Turnitin assignments are not converted.
    Turnitin assignments must be recreated as Canvas Assignments using the "External Submission" in the assignment settings.  After that, Turnitin works the same in Canvas as it does in Bb.
  8. Journals, Blogs, and Wikis are not converted.
    • Ignored.  No content is brought over in the conversion.  
    • Journals and Blogs can be recreated (more or less) using Canvas Discussions.
    • Wiki assignments can be recreated (more or less) using Canvas Pages
  9. LTI content, such as VoiceThread links, is not converted.
    LTI links are ignored by the Canvas import processor and must be recreated using Canvas’s equivalent tools. Only the link must be recreated, not the LTI content itself.
  10. Internal Bb "course links" are ignored by the Canvas processor.

Things to Review and How to Fix Them After Import

  1. Availability Dates for Assignments/ Discussions/ Quizzes do not import
    • Reset these things as necessary
  2. Module Settings (Requirements / Availability Dates / Prerequisites) do not import
    • Reset these things as necessary
  3. Nested Folders are sometimes split when importing into Canvas
    • Reorganize new Canvas modules to approximate nested folders approach, if desired
    • Create new Canvas pages for any folder description text that had been present in Bb
  4. Discussion "Grade" settings usually do not import into Canvas
    • Reassign points in Canvas item
  5. Pages with multiple files only import one file
    • Check and relink any missing files from Canvas files silo. Canvas does not “attach” files separately from the Rich Content Editor.
  6. Files referenced in Pages do not preserve their “open in…” setting.
    • Reattach/relink these files using Canvas’s native tools to restore expected “open in…” behavior.
  7. Assignment point values may not be imported
    • Review assignments to make sure point values are correct
  8. Turnitin assignments do not import
    • Recreate TII assignments using regular Canvas assignment tool and set submission type to External URL >>> Turnitin Feedback Studio.
  9. SCORM Activities are omitted
    • Re-upload and link original .zip from SCORM product
  10. Grade Scale has not been set
  11. Multiple objects with the same name are imported with a "-2" or "-3" at the end
    • Rename objects if necessary
  12. Test descriptions and settings are not brought over upon import
    • If using modules, create a new Page to present the description and link to the Quiz
    • Review quiz settings and reset if necessary
  13. Syllabus Page is empty
    • Create syllabus page if desired.
  14. LTI content is not set up
    • LTI content must be reconnected after import (VoiceThread, etc.)
  15. Blackboard journals are left out of the import
    • Recreate these activities using the Canvas assignment tool or the Canvas discussion tool
  16. Blackboard blogs are left out of the import
    • Recreate these activities using the Canvas discussion tool or a third-party external tool
  17. Quiz questions are often broken
    • Embedded images and media clips inside of Quiz questions and answers need to be replaced.
      • Media files should be in Files silo; relink from there
    • Matching Questions need to be rebuilt
    • Formula Questions do not have the correct settings brought over
    • HotSpot questions are not able to be rebuilt inside of Canvas
    • Fill-In-The-Blank question types need to be rebuilt
    • Multiple Dropdowns are often broken

After the Import: Moodle

  1. Canvas sets the course home page to the Modules page
  2. Moodle module names are retained as Canvas module names but the description used in Moodle is converted into a Canvas page and placed at the top of the Canvas module.
  3. Moodle forums are converted to Canvas discussions (no threads are created in the conversion)
  4. Moodle assignments are converted to Canvas assignments
  5. Moodle quizzes are converted to Canvas quizzes
  6. Moodle book resources are converted to Canvas pages (one for each book page)
  7. Moodle activities that lack a Canvas equivalent are ignored by the conversion (Database, Wiki, Glossary, Lesson, Questionnaire, Workshop, etc.)

Import a QTI quiz file

QTI is the common file format for quizzes in some LMSs, especially Blackboard and Canvas. Create a QTI .zip file by exporting your quiz out of the previous LMS. It's this .zip that will be imported into the Canvas course.

  1. Open the current course (this is the course you will import into).
  2. On the course home page, click Import Existing Content on the right.
  3. On the next page, select QTI .zip file from the Content Type menu, and then locate the .zip file on your computer.
    Import a file
  4. Leave the "Default question bank" and other settings as-is and click Import.

After the Import

When the process finishes, the questions will be imported into a new question bank in the course that use the same name as the quiz.  Only the questions are imported, not any settings from the previous LMS such as due dates, time limit, etc. To use the imported questions, create a new quiz and add the questions to it.

Need help?

Contact for help importing and converting previous course material to Canvas.