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Moodle to Canvas: Old Content and Templates

Hello everyone!

We just completed a Canvas Pilot and have decided to bring our entire institution over from Moodle to Canvas.  For those who have done this or are doing it now, I have two specific questions:

Did you import any old Moodle course content over to Canvas?

If you did, did you do it for everyone, require a request form, or other? How far back did you go?

Do you provide faculty with blank course shells?
Or do you use templates?

In Moodle we have been providing faculty with skeleton shells that are pre-populated with "placeholder" items. This will not really work in Canvas, so I'm curious what others have done.  Considering setting the default to Module view (rather than a page as a homepage) to mimic the look of Moodle, but would love your expertise!

Thank you in advance!

8 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @jenny_hopf , have you looked at‌? It might help with your template questions. Otherwise I'm going to share your post with the‌ group to see if they can help. You might consider joining that group so you can check out their resources and information.

New Member

Hi Jenny

University of Canberra is also moving from Moodle to Canvas. 

We did a trial export and import and identified the issues. I am happy to send your our report, if you think that would be helpful. Some tools and content just won't transfer, so we are not transferring that. We are developing specific support strategies around the Moodle Book function and the quizzes as there are quiz types that are not equivalent.

From the trial we decided to do the following:

- import the Moodle content exported from Moodle into a Canvas site

- provide the academic with access to that site and to a clean Canvas site - with the idea that they would rebuild in that clean site

- we are applying a site shell to all the sites created (the Canvas Blueprints is only available in prod today and we haven't had a chance to look at it and assess whether it will work for us). We are creating the site shell, exporting it to the commons and then applying it to every site. It's a messy workaround and we are hoping that Blueprints will do the job.  We want the default layout on the course home screen to be Syllabus. There is the ability to force the module layout to all sites, but that is pedagogically the opposite of the innovative learning journeys we are hoping academics will create in the Canvas environment. 

- we are importing the current year in stages (ie as each teaching period finishes). That sounds neat and tidy but it's not as we have flexible start dates, and the like. But we are just about to start and it's going okay so far. 

- we have developed an 'equivalency table' which suggests what to do in Canvas that is equivalent to what people did in Moodle. That has reduced staff anxiety about the move. 

Rgs, Jen

 @jenny_millea , this is incredibly helpful, thank you!

We are considering doing the same things as you with regard to templates.  Creating them in Commons and then giving faculty who don't want a blank course shell, the option to import from Commons.  Will be looking into Blueprint courses and will circle back with you if I learn anything worthwhile.

Two questions for you:

1. Would you be willing to share the equivalency table you created? I love this idea!

2. Can you tell me about what quiz types don't transfer in?  I was aware of the Book issue, but didn't realize Quiz might pose some problems.

Thank you in advance!

#MoodletoCanvas #moodle

Thank you  @kona ‌!

We have looked into Blueprint courses a bit, but we don't want to force a template, so thinking Commons might make more sense.  I will join that group you suggested, thank you!

Hi  @jenny_hopf 

Sure thing - have sent through the info on email. Rgs, Jen

Yes, but unfortunately they are a) focused on locking content types b) require you to associate each course site with the blueprint and this seems to be a manual process. 

We are really looking for a mechanism to a) force the order of course site navigation so that it is consistent in every course site (and thus consistent for students), b) to be able to apply a preferred front page. 

In the recent update you can now force modules to be the front page of every site. But that is not the pedagogical approach that UC wants to take (ie it's very linear and content focused). It would make more sense that all the front page options could be available to be forced, rather than one. (We want Syllabus page)

Also, it seems that to apply a site shell from the comments to every site then an admin needs to be manually added to every site to be able to do that. There are scripting workarounds, but it's unfortunate to have to think of workarounds. Ability to template  is kind of a key function for any system that involved content management, but Canvas seems to lack that in a wholistic sense. It would be great if Canvas just provided a set of 10 standard templates for course sites reflecting different pedagogical approaches, for example. 

[And if anyone suggests I put that in as an idea in the community, I will probably throw something 😉 If I feel like lobbying and then waiting a couple of years, then that's possible, I guess. UC has not even implemented Canvas as a production system yet, and I am already weary of hearing that statement, meant with the best of intentions I know...]


Re Blueprints being a manual process, there is an API so it could be part of the integration for provisioning new courses.  i.e.

  • Create a new course
  • Associate it with the appropriate master template
  • Syc the template down
  • Remove the association (this would allow complete freedom for academics from that point onward).

Blueprint Courses - Canvas LMS REST API Documentation  

This could be similarly achieved using a course copy from a master course and the API's or as Kona mentioned providing a blank course shell and a variety of templates within Commons.  Both of these are very common approaches.  Commons won't give you the consistent Course navigation but Course Copy and BluePrints both will.  

New Member

Hi Jenny


  • At UC we only imported the kind of content that transferred well from Moodle to Canvas (ie there was an equivalent tool and the transfer would work).
  • We copied all teaching sites from the current year. (Our academics typically copy the previous offering into a new site and then update it as needed, rather than starting from scratch each teaching period).
  • We copied teaching sites from other periods if requested by the academic staff member.
  • We had over 1000 non-teaching sites. We did an audit of those, contacted the owners, and ended up copying across about 250.

Course shells

  • When we copied the sites across part of the process was to apply a course shell. This had a standard navigation, some placeholder prompts and had the home page for each site set as the Syllabus page. Instructure assisted us in doing that as we were applying it to large numbers of sites at a time.
  • We had a course shell for teaching sites and a different one for non-teaching (community) sites. When we complete our site creation integration system in December when the site is created it will be created using the course shell we have developed. This can be updated, it just needs to be the same course ID.  

Rgs, Jen