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Best methods for copying course content?


It seems that there are differences between the following methods of copying content from course to course depending on the content we are copying:

For example, I was helping a faculty member who wanted to copy an end-of-course survey (Quiz) she created into all her courses. We trying Copying the survey (as described at the link above) and it was not available as a content item to select. We tried The Commons and she was unable to bring the survey into other courses (they did not show up on her list of courses). Exporting & Importing finally worked for copying the Quiz.

I also had issues copying an assignment containing a Rubric using the various methods: only the Assignment copied but not the rubric.

Does anyone have a list of best methods for copying content depending on the content we wish to copy?

9 Replies


Since we are integrated with our SIS, our course shells are already created and pulled in from PowerSchool. For that reason, I have instructed my teachers to use the “Import content/Copy a Canvas course” method when copying courses from one term to another.  Here’s the differences among the three methods.

Option: Import Content into this course

This option is for copying course content from one course into another course that already exists.

Create or access the new course that you want to copy content into

Choose “Settings”

Select “Import Content into this Course”

Select “Copy a Canvas course”

Choose the course that you want to copy content from

Option: Copy This Course

This option is for copying a course into a brand-new course that will be created as part of choosing this option.

Choose the course that you want to copy from

Choose “Settings”

Select “Copy this Course”

Enter information for the new course and click “Create Course”

Note: No need to select content type on the next screen; the old course will automatically be copied into the newly-created course.

Option: Export Course Content

This option is for creating a Common Cartridge file of the course, which can subsequently be saved to the deskop and/or imported to another Canvas account or a different LMS.

This will export the course in a file format that can be uploaded to another Canvas account or alternate LMS, or to create a backup copy on your desktop.  This would be handy if, for example, you were switching jobs, had multiple LMS accounts, or were switching to another LMS system that is compatible with the file format created for the export file (Common Cartridge files). You could also use this option as a way of sharing content with another Canvas user, by giving him/her access to the Common Cartridge file for your course and allowing him/her to import it into their own account.

Community Member

Has anyone completed a comparison on the different methods to export/import content between Canvas courses. I use the copy a canvas course under import  options but I know other instructional designers use the "copy a canvas course" menu option and "create an export package". Each of us has our own reasons why we choose our preferred methods. I was hoping someone else had taken the time compare these three so I had a better understanding of the differences. Thanks!

Community Member

I have many successes and messes when it comes to copying course content. We are a fully online school and we copy whole course content over for the teacher. Our teachers are given a fully loaded course at the start of each semester, but have a few items to address. Our curriculum model: we use both year-long and semester masters (VERY important to highlight) This is a list of experience-based issues, considerations, and long-term solutions:


  • "Shifting Dates" during import
    • Like many schools, we need to shift the dates to each new semester. This helps teachers launch a course and most assignments are dated within the new semester time frame. However, our year-long masters do NOT shift the dates properly. This highly impacts teachers: increase hours of course set up time. Some shifting behaviors: assignment dates were shifted to the following year (hard for teachers to find), clumping into one month, clumping over 3 months, etc. The semester course masters shift almost perfectly.
  • Weighting Grades
    • A few of our courses use the weighting feature in Canvas- year long and semester courses. This feature does NOT copy over correctly. Boy did I learn this the hard- students had 0% in the gradebook after the first week of completing assignments. It basically default to one Import Assignments groups. I have to re-establish all groups and enter percentages for each of these courses; every semester.


  • What to click and not to click
    • I used to click every single assignment, quiz, discussion, etc. when copying content. I learned, from a wonderful L1 Canvas technician that you only need to click the module and everything listed in that module will copy over. Yea! That just saved me hours of building arthritis! Now, I only need to click (on year-long masters) Course Settings, Syllabus, Modules (only the ones for the semester I'm pulling), LTI's, Rubrics, and Files. On our semester masters, I'm able to click "all content."
    • Alert: I recently found out an issue with only clicking Modules. Our Geometry course has practice quizzes that are links within the page- not visible on the modules view. None of the practice quizzes copied over due to how they are linked in the course.
  • Link Validator
    • This is a wonderful new feature! I'm piloting a new process to add this into my routine of copying out courses. This is sometimes a big headache. However, I'd rather have a list of broken things to fix at my leisure vs. fixing link in a rush because a student reported the issue over a ticket.
  • Curriculum Department
    • I consult with my Curriculum Department before doing any content pulling. I need to consider: courses not ready for current semester (due to revision, etc.), new version created, and/or an endless list of possibilities.

Long-Term Solution:

  • Semester Masters
    • Due to the "Shifting Dates/Calendaring" issue, mention above, we are moving all our year-long masters to a semester master model. Many schools/institutions are already doing this. It's a lot to maintain, for edits, etc.

I'm still learning as I go, but if you have any question about what I mention- please don't hesitate!



Yes, I did the same thing at first...didn't see the little down arrow!


We had one of our faculty members contact our office this week that she could not find a Quiz she was wanting to copy over using the "Select specific content" option. She was not seeing the Quiz listed. It turned out to be a case of not clicking on the down arrow for Quizzes and expanding it to show the quizzes. I was wondering if that might be the case in this instance? Forgive me if you tried that and I missed seeing that.



Thank you. Maybe it is just a bug - the screenshot is a great idea.

I thought that maybe there were specific instances in which methods may not work (such as when a quiz does not have a question bank or when a rubric is not linked to the assignment, etc.)

Highlighted​, where were you looking for the quiz at that it wasn't showing up? Under Quizzes for the "select specific content?" It should show up and if it's not then I'd submit a Canvas Help ticket (with a screen shot) showing the issue. I've heard someone else talk about a similar issue recently and it makes me wonder if there is a bug or something else we're missing for why the quiz wouldn't be showing up.


Thanks for your response. That's the first method that we tried, but her quiz was not listed as specific content that we could select. Maybe it's because that method only works when there is a question bank?

I hope to compile a list of situations requiring a specific method of copying. That's good to know that The Commons does not retain settings. What is a situation in which The Commons is the best method for faculty to use to copy content into their course?

Community Member

For this application, I would use the "Import content into this course" option for each course I want the survey added into, then "Select Specific Content."  This is described in the guide: How do I import content from another Canvas course? | Canvas Instructor Guide | Canvas Guides

When you select the content, just choose the relevant survey.  This will retain any settings, while Commons can still be a bit hit or miss.