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Course Import: Best Practices

Because of the limitations of the Canvas import tool, you may find it works best to rebuild a course from scratch. Trying to import all of your course material using the Course Import Tool alone will leave some content disorganized and often lost. Since Blackboard and Canvas are very different learning management systems, some things simply will not translate.

To work around this issue, we have developed this specific guide of best practices when moving a Blackboard course into Canvas. We have separated different areas of the course and organized them into three recommendations: best to import with the Course Import Tool, best to import separately/gather content and recreate, and best to start fresh.


Best to Import Using the Course Import Tool

Announcements, Calendar, Glossary, & Tasks

These organizational tools will easily transfer over to Canvas. Note that there are no tools equivalent to "glossary" or "tasks" in Canvas, so the content will transfer to the Pages section of your course.

Assignments, SafeAssignments, & Grade Center

These three tools will import hand-in-hand. Since there is no SafeAssign feature within Canvas, both assignments and SafeAssignments will import as normal assignments. This, in turn, will create a column for each assignment in the Gradebook.

Tests, Surveys & Pools

Tests, Surveys and Pools will all import into the Quizzes section. Note that Pools will not show up on the front quizzes page, but will be accessible by going to Quizzes > Manage Question Banks

Some quiz questions may be in formats that do not transfer to Canvas. Formats other than standard quiz questions (multiple choice, fill in the blanks, essay, matching, numerical, formula) should be checked before a quiz is published. If a question format is not supported by Canvas, the question will become a text-only question (students will not have the option to answer).

Discussion Board

A recent update to Canvas has improved the course import tool and as a result, the discussion board prompts will now import into your new Canvas course. Since the prompts are generally what the instructor needs, the course import tool will be sufficient. If you find you need student replies, you should save them using an external program (Microsoft Word or the collect tool in Blackboard).

Best to Import Separately or Gather Content & Recreate

Course Files & Documents

Because Blackboard files are nested, files from Course Files and Course Documents end up importing quite messy and are hard to find in a new Canvas course. We recommend downloading all course files and documents to a .zip file, then importing them directly into your Canvas course's Files section. This way, your files will be easier to find and organize. Visit the Learning Technologies Importing Course Files page for a step-by-step tutorial of how to do this.


Although Wikis technically transfer over to the Pages section with the Course Import Tool, there were issues during our testing where many wiki pages were missing. Additionally, the pages de-link upon import. If you would like to keep your wiki(s), the best way to do this is copy and pasting each page's content into the Pages section of your Canvas course, then re-linking them back together.

Web Links

Web links do transfer over from Blackboard, but they get disorganized and become hard to find in the process. So, it's best to just create new links in your Canvas course. If you have a lot of links in your Blackboard course, it may be best to keep track of the text and urls in a separate document on your computer (for example, in a Word document).

Start Fresh

Groups & Group Tools

Groups and group tools simply do not transfer over. Although the import tool will create a page for some of them, they are generally blank (or display little information) and have no enrollments or tools connected to them. Use Canvas' Groups feature to create student groups instead.

Course Folders (General Course Organization)

Although this isn't something that is necessarily imported into the course (unless you count within Course Files), it is something that you will want to rethink when putting together your course.