Importing content from a previous course

If you have content from a previous semester that you would like to use, you can import it into your new course site. You can import the entire course, or only specific parts.

To import content from another course, you always start in the new course site and pull the content in from the old course using the Import Course Content tool. You do not want to copy the old course or export content from the old course.

See the following Canvas Guides for detailed instructions and images.

If you are importing assignments with due dates, make sure to adjust the due dates as part of the import process. (See How do I adjust events and due dates in a course import? for instructions). They won’t be exactly right if you’re moving from a spring semester to a fall semester, or vice-versa, because of breaks and holidays. However, they’ll be close enough that you can adjust them by dragging them on the Calendar. (See about 2/3rds of the way down the “How do I edit an event or assignment in the Calendar?” Canvas Guide for an example).

IMPORTANT: NEVER just copy and paste content from a previous course site, especially when there are images, videos, or links to other parts of the Canvas site involved. They won’t look to you like they are broken, even though they still refer back to your original course, because you have access to the previous course site. However, your current students don’t have access to that site, and will not be able to see the image, watch the video, or use the link.

Things to do after you import course content

There are a couple of things you want to do every semester when you import content from a previous course: check for broken links, and check for any typed-in dates that need to be changed by hand.

Check Links

Use the Canvas link-checker to automatically check for broken links. The link checker is in the course Settings. Look for the button labeled Validate Links in Content on the right side of the page (or at the bottom of the page, if your screen is small).

Note that occasionally the link checker will return false positives, if the link is to a site that requires authentication or requires the user to click something before accessing the site. These will not necessarily need to be fixed.

See the Canvas Guide “How do I validate links in a course?” for full instructions.

Check for Typed-in Dates

Always check imported content to see if there are type-in dates from the previous semester that need to be updated. Updating due dates in the import process will not change dates typed directly into assignment text, assignment names, announcements, or module names.


Questions? Talk to your campus teaching and learning center!

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