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Course Conversion Guide - Moodle to Canvas

This guide walks you through the recommended process for converting your course from Moodle to Canvas, including issues to watch out for and best practices to follow.


Review Your Course

  1. If your content is still in Moodle: Import your Moodle course into your Canvas course.
    If your content has already been migrated to Canvas via K16: Import your content into your development container. Guide: how to import your content from another Canvas course. To create a development container, while on your Dashboard, in the lower right click the button "Start a new course." Give your development container a name and click "Create." 
  2. When the course is done importing, it may show a list of import issues. Click on each error link and note the problem.
  3. Do a side-by-side comparison between Moodle and Canvas. Review each of the main areas: Modules, Pages, and Files, and make a list of what did not transfer over, was changed, or needs to be updated.
  4. Run the Course Link Validator under Settings. Note broken links.
  5. Once you have reviewed your imported course, decide if it will be easier to either fix what came over or to reset your course (completely clear out) and rebuild piece by piece.
    Note: Reset is only available in Development containers. If you wish to reset a course that is not a development container, please contact us at
    1. To reset the course, go to Settings on your course navigation and then on the right click on Reset Course Content Guide: how to reset course content.
      reset course content link
    2. If you decide to fix what came over, review the suggestions in each of the sections below.

Import Issues Report

After you import, Canvas will report items that may have issues.
Note: this list will not be comprehensive, there be other issues that should be resolved that do not appear in this report.

Click the "[#] issues" link to show the issues Canvas found.

import issues report link

Each issue will be listed as a link. Clicking on those links will take you to the item or page with the issue.

import issues report with links to issues

Some common issues:

  • Announcements could not be linked (you can ignore this, as Announcements is automatically built into every Canvas course)
  • Broken/missing internal links
  • Broken external links
  • External tools (like Course Reserves/Leganto) broken/unable to import
  • Quiz questions that may not have imported correctly

We will address most of these issues in the sections below. For now you can just note the issues in your running list of items to be fixed.

Note: You can always get back to this report by clicking on "Import Existing Content" on the right side of the Home page

import existing content link

or "Import Course Content" on the right side of the Settings page.

 import course content link

Modules View

Moodle has one main content area, the course homepage, showing all added resources and activities organized into topics/weeks. Canvas has several content areas: Modules, Files, Pages, Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes. None of these quite match what have in Moodle, although the closest would be Modules as it replicates the structure and order you are used to in Moodle.

To view, click on Modules on your course navigation.

modules index page

Import notes

  • Topics/weeks that had the default name in Moodle (Topic 1, Topic 2, etc. or using the Weekly Format) will import as modules called Untitled Module.
  • Topic summaries, labels, folders, and book chapters will import as Pages (represented by the paper icon). By default the page titles will be the first paragraph of text from the item, which can clutter and overwhelm the Modules index page, especially since the titles do not allow for any text formatting.
  • Files are indicated by a paper clip icon, regardless of the file type.
  • Images will not display on the Modules index page. Images only display on Pages.

Best practices

  1. Rename modules to be short, consistent, and meaningful. Guide: How to edit a module.
  2. Use indents and text headers (similar to Labels in Moodle) to visually organize items within modules. Guide: How to add a text header.
  3. Add extensions to file names to indicate their file type (docx, pptx, pdf, etc.). Guide: how to edit a module item. Note: changing the name on the Modules index page will not change the actual name of the file (and vice versa). See the Files section below on how to change the actual name of the file.
  4. Consolidate and delete extra pages. Rename the pages you keep to be short, consistent, and unique. See the Pages section below.
  5. Check links and set to open in a new window/tab. See Links section below.
  6. Make a list of activities that did not import or were changed. See the Activities section below.

Files View

In Moodle you could add files directly to a topic/week, group them in folders, or even link to them in labels, pages, and activity descriptions. Similarly in Canvas you can add files to a module on the Modules page, and link to them in pages and activity descriptions. Unlike Moodle though, Canvas provides a separate Files area for organizing and storing all files for the course.

To view, click on Files on your course navigation.

files index page

Import notes

  • If you rolled over your Moodle course from semester to semester then there could be a large number of older, unused files that can clutter up your Files area in Canvas.
  • Folders from Moodle do not import as folders in Canvas (folders are imported as a page with links to the individual files).
  • The Files area lists files alphabetically, not by Module or order in the course. This can make it difficult to locate related files, such as those that were within the same folder in Moodle.

Best practices

  1. Hide the Files index page from your students. Not only will this help keep the students' course navigation streamlined, it will ensure students view files in the proper context and desired order.
    Guide: How to manage course navigation links.
  2. Remove old, unused, and duplicate files.
    Guide: How to delete a file or folder.
  3. Rename files to be distinct and concise. In the case of image files, make sure the name is descriptive as well.
    Guide: How to rename a file.
  4. Reorganize files into folders to make it easier to find related files.
    Guides: How to create a folder, and How to move and organize files.

Pages View

Next, let's look at Pages. Moodle has a resource called Page that you have likely used when you wanted more space to provide instructions or content without cluttering up your course homepage. Canvas has a very similar resource called Page that is even easier to create and manage. Also, unlike Moodle, Canvas provides the Pages index page which allows you to view and manage all of the Pages in your course.

To view, click on Pages on your course navigation.

pages index page

Import notes

  • Canvas creates a separate page for each and every topic summary, label, folder, book chapter, and page from Moodle. Depending on your course in CC, this can lead to quite a few pages in Canvas that must be checked and either updated or deleted.
  • Canvas automatically titles imported labels and topic summaries using the first paragraph of the item, which can mean long and confusing page names. Imported pages, folders, and book chapters should retain their titles.
  • The Pages index page lists pages alphabetically, not by Module or order in the course. This can make it difficult to locate a specific page amongst similarly named pages. For example, say in Moodle in each of your 16 modules you had a page called "Start Here" where you listed that module's required resources and activities. In Canvas, on the Pages index page, that would mean 16 pages named "Start Here" requiring you to click into each one to determine to what module it belongs.

Best practices

  1. Hide your Pages index page from students. Not only will this help keep the students' course navigation streamlined, it will ensure students view pages in the proper context and desired order.
    Guide: How to manage course navigation links.
  2. After importing into Canvas, consolidate and delete extra pages.
    Guides: How to edit a page, and How to delete pages.
  3. For the pages you keep, rename page titles to be consistent, short, and unique. These page names are what is show on the Modules index page, on the Pages index page, and in the search window when linking to a page.
    Guide: How to change the name of a page.


In Moodle you could add URLs directly to a topic/week, or even in labels, pages, and activity descriptions. Most likely these were external URLs. However to help guide your students in CC, you may have manually added links in pages, sections, assignments, and labels to other activities and resources elsewhere in the course. These links though were not easy to add and needed to be redone each term. In Canvas, adding and managing internal links is much easier and more useful.

Import notes

  • External links that go to outside websites, YouTube, etc., will be okay and continue to work, but internal links to Moodle activities and resources will need to be reconnected to the respective items in Canvas.

Best practices

  1. Run the Course Link Validator to find broken links. Go to Settings and on the right click on "Validate Links in Content." Then click Start Link Validation.
    Guide: How to run the course link validator.
  2. You can fix external links immediately, but for internal links we recommend you wait until after you have fixed your Pages and Files to fix these links. Doing so will make it easier to re-establish these internal links.
    Guide: How to link to other Canvas pages.
  3. Change external links to open in a new window/tab. If not, Canvas will attempt to display/preview the link in the course, which might not be possible for all external sites. For accessibility purposes in the link text make sure to indicate the link will open in a new tab.
  4. Check Student View to re-check all links. To ensure there are no links that still refer back to Moodle, make sure you are not logged in to Moodle in the same browser. Even better, use a completely different browser or private/incognito window to use Student View.
    Guide: How to view a course as a student.


Finally, let's look at activities. In the Modules section above we asked you to use the Modules index page to compare your imported course in Canvas to your course in Moodle to determine activities did not import. However, first we want to point out three additional content areas in Canvas: Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes.
Note: For any new activity you wish to create in your Canvas course, we recommend you do so in these content areas, and then later add them to your Modules index page in the appropriate module.

On the Assignments index page you will see all graded and ungraded assignments, graded quizzes, and graded discussions, and be able to organize them into Assignment Groups (similar to gradebook categories in Moodle). By default all activities imported from Moodle will be in one Assignment Group called "Imported Assignments" but you can always change this name, or move activities to other assignment groups. You should add any new graded and ungraded Assignments from this page.

assignments index page

On the Discussions index page you will see all graded and ungraded discussions. Discussions are organized into three groups: pinned discussions, discussions (open), and closed for comments. You should add any new discussions from this page.

discussions index page

On the Quizzes index page you will see all graded and ungraded quizzes and surveys. Quizzes are organized into three groups: assignment quizzes (graded), practice quizzes (ungraded), and surveys. You should add any new quizzes and surveys from this page.

quizzes index page

Now back to the Modules index page: some activities from Moodle will import as-is, other activities will import but need some extra work, and some activities simply will not import at all.
Note: even activities that come over as-is should be checked to ensure all desired settings are enabled before they and the course are published.

Some Work

  • Choice
  • Feedback/Questionnaire
  • Glossary
  • Perusall
  • Quiz
  • Quiz questions: calculated, calculated multichoice, calculated simple, drag and drop matching, and embedded answers/cloze.

Will Not Import

  • Attendance
  • Chat
  • Database
  • Group Self Selection
  • H5P
  • Lesson
  • Library Reserves
  • OU Blog
  • OU Wiki
  • Quiz questions: drag and drop into text, drag and drop markers, drag and drop onto image, OU multiple response, Poodll recording, and select missing words.
  • Rubrics/Grading Guides
  • Scheduler
  • Turnitin Assignments
  • Workshop

Please see Equivalencies Chart - Moodle to Canvas for more information on each of these activities (and more), including potential issues, workarounds, and related Canvas help guides.

Meta/Combined Courses

In Moodle, if you were teaching multiple sections of the same course you could request a combined container. This container was separate from the individual sections, but brought in their enrollments through course meta links. You still had access to the individual sections, but usually kept these hidden and made the combined container visible to your students.

In Canvas, this process is called "cross-listing" and while it serves the same purpose of having one place for course content that serves multiple sections, there is an important difference. When you cross-list a course in Canvas you have one master course and the other sections are cross-listed to that course. These sub-sections are subsumed into the master and are then no longer available as individual containers. All content and data in these sections is erased. You will want to request a course be cross-listed prior to adding content and publishing these courses.

Though there is this downside of removing those individual sections, the upside is that it is very easy in Canvas to manage sections in a cross-listed container, including assigning different due dates for activities and sorting the gradebook.

To request a course be cross-listed in canvas, please fill out this form.