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Canvas: copy course content

Posted at 5:19 p.m. Sept. 22, 2021, by in Canvas, Getting Started

last updated Sep 21, 2023 @ 8:05 am
Often you may wish to copy course content to re-use in another Canvas site. For instance, a) if you are teaching the same course again in a subsequent semester; or b) if you have set up section 01 and want to duplicate it to section 02. Sometimes, you may wish to copy just a couple of items from one site to another, such as an “about your professor” page or a syllabus quiz.

Copy only a few items with “Copy to”

This process works to copy individual announcements, assignments, discussions, modules, pages, and quizzes. If you want to copy most of a course, or your Files, use the Import Existing Content procedure instead (see below).

Copy all or most of your course content and structure with “Import Existing Content”

This is the easiest way to import the majority of an existing Canvas—it gives you an excellent degree of specificity in what to copy over from 1) a previous semester’s site, 2) a concurrent section, or 3) a ‘sandbox’ site where you have developed content ahead of the semester.

  1. Start from your new (and probably empty) Canvas site
  2. Click on Home from the left-hand course menu to select Import Existing Content from the far-right of the page

import existing content from right-hand menu

  1. For Content Type, select Copy a Canvas Course
  2. Search for the existing course from which to copy, by title, and select the course
  3. In almost all cases, from the Content options, choose Select specific content
  4. You can try the Adjust event and due dates option; I would suggest changing the Start Date from the first day of classes in the previous semester to the first day of your new semester, e.g., from 1/22/21 to 1/18/22. Although you will still need to check and update the due dates for quizzes, assignments, etc., at least you’ll be starting from the right month and year
  5. Now click the blue Import button at the bottom of the screen (don’t worry, you’ll specify content soon)
  6. Canvas is taking a look at the materials available to import, which could take some moments, but eventually you will see—and click—the blue Select Content button on the Import Content page, under Current Jobs

Select content button

  1. Clicking the blue Select Content button will trigger a pop-up window with all the tools you could choose to import. If you check the box to the left of an individual tool (eg, Assignments), you will import every assignment. However, you can drill down by clicking the little right-pointing arrow at the left of the tool if you want to select only a subset of your assignments.
  2. IMPORTANT: do not select Announcements or Calendar Events; they will cause frustrating problems! In general, don’t copy External Tools either, especially not Class Recordings, which will import a link to your RUCams recordings from the previous semester.

Select content to import

  1. Once you have selected all the course elements you wish to import, click the blue Select Content button, again, at the bottom-right corner of the detailed Select Content window.
  2. Now wait for the import job to complete! When you see the green Complete tag, your import is done—click back on Home and explore (and update!) your content-filled site.
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