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. You can import content from one section of a class into another section of the same class in the current semester

button list in Canvas settings with Copy this Course and Export Course content marked out and Import Course Content circled

To import content from another course, you always start in the new (destination) course site and pull the content in from the original 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 if you need to. (See How do I adjust events and due dates in a course import? for instructions). You can easily change due dates from one day of the week to another. If you’re importing content from a spring semester to a fall semester, or vice-versa, they won’t be exactly right 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, the students in the destination site don’t have access to the original 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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