Moving from Moodle to Canvas

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My institution is in the process of setting up a Canvas Pilot for a small group. Currently we use Moodle as our LMS and have for many years. Can people share with me any insights as to getting faculty on-board, migrating content, training, and differences in the two systems.

Thanks in advance!


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Community Team​, I've shared your question with the Canvas Engagement Strategies​ and LMS Migration​ groups so that it will garner more attention. If you're not already a member of those community groups, joining is just a few clicks away.

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Our institution transitioned from Moodle to Canvas over summer 2015, and in general, faculty have been very pleased when comparing Canvas to Moodle. I've made a "Moodle to Canvas Orientation" that I've shared in Canvas Commons if you search those terms. Its audience is faculty and in many locations I make comparisons to Moodle that might be helpful.

One strategy that we used when helping faculty build courses was to set their modules page as the course homepage and build that way. If you're importing content from Moodle, it will automatically recognize the modular format and set the course that way anyhow. Starting in the modules to add items gave them a familiar framework and then we can point out that there are other ways to add and access those items through the navigation tabs in the course. They can then build from that to use front pages, etc., which many will do.

One thing that your faculty might miss is having text or images appear throughout the course modules as they did in Moodle, but we just point faculty to Content Pages in Canvas that they can use to do that, and they seem okay with that. As I mentioned too, many will set up front pages in their courses (including me) to make the course feel a bit more welcoming and then point students to the modules page.

Hope this helps and that you're able to find the orientation I've shared in Commons!

Community Member

Here's a knee-jerk response.


  • Canvas has a more attractive interface (sorry, but sometimes looks matter; Moodle was kind of an eyesore).
  • Canvas actually *listens* to its users and consistently makes changes. I always felt like M was love-it-or-leave-it.
  • Because of this, Canvas's functionality is constantly improved.
  • Any issues are quickly resolved.
  • There is easily-accessible phone or email help, as well as a viable community and guides already at hand.
  • I won't comment on all of the many Canvas features, but possibly my favorite is that you can set time limits on quizzes, AND see in real time how much the student has left, increasing it if necessary.


  • There is no way to assign partial credit to anticipated, partially-correct write-in answers. However, that feature is presently under consideration, as it has generated enough interest within the community.
  • There is no regrade function for the entire assessment or for write-ins. There is, however, for multiple choice.

As for migrating content, I would caution you that if instructors have imported quizzes/tests with short answers, they should retake them all first. Our short answers would have a dash inserted where spaces were, causing all of the students' answers to be incorrect before we figured it out.

My biggest piece of advice is to NOT throw your staff into the pool—let them warm up to it. There are enough differences that if you take away Moodle and quickly replace it with Canvas and say "here, now you're doing this", they will choke on the learning curve and rebel against both you and Canvas. For the first year, offer workshops and lots of practice, allowing people to begin using it at their own pace. I would say that if at all possible, they should have at least a semester to try it out before the old LMS is pulled from them entirely (I think we had a year). Of course, some won't take advantage of it and won't migrate their content, but at least you will have tried to set them up for success.

I wish you well. You've made an awesome choice.



We are currently undergoing the same process - a pilot for Spring and are using Moodle. I am curious to hear what advice you receive.  Are you setting up the system, and if so are you importing data for users, etc. or just doing manual set up for the pilot?



Community Member

Jessica -

Our pilot is very small, and is in conjunction with an online program we are launching. We just signed the contract with Canvas and I have not even spoken with my Customer Success Manager yet, so currently I am beginning to build the courses I need in the free version of Canvas. I did have an online training course for faculty built in Moodle, and I imported the content - but it seemed to be a huge mess, so I deleted most of it and started over. My ideal would be to pull the user information and enrollments from our SIS as we currently do in Moodle, but for the pilot I may just create them manually. The students will all be new as the online program is a dual enrollment with different LD High Schools, and including myself there are only 4 courses and faculty members.

Designing in Canvas is a very different experience, and it has taken me a few days to figure out some of the various components - but the documentation is amazing! Being an Instructional Designer and Moodle power user, has made it challenging! The first few days I was ready to jump back to Moodle, but I am slowing warming up to Canvas. Focusing on my outcomes and not how the previous technology worked is helping a bit. We also just subscribed to SoftChalk, which is making me feel a bit better as I was a heavy lesson user in Moodle, and Canvas doesn't seem to have anything like the lessons.

Currently my biggest disappointment is the inability to set discussions for students to start one discussion and respond to 1-2 classmates before the discussion can be marked complete. Searching the help I found a few suggestions, and have added the Secondary or Response posts as assignments - not thrilled with this, but it works, and I don't have to manually add forums to the course calendar as I did in Moodle. I will be interested to see how the faculty that will be taking the training course in January respond to this.

For the Spring Semester I am teaching the same course as a blended class in Moodle, and an online class in Canvas, I am looking forward to seeing how the students respond to the different activities.



Hi Melissa,

We are using 10 courses for the pilot. The content for those and the

faculty have been manually created so far. Now we have about 150 students

that I am trying to determine how to load in Canvas. I am in IT, so I am

the administrator for Moodle and will be for Canvas, but we also have

instructional design resources for the pilot. We just had our first

meeting with our Customer Success group yesterday. I wanted to get

something on the schedule before we all go on break until January. I am

glad I did, because we need to get some things set up as soon as we get

back in January to be ready for the spring.

I will keep you posted with our progress.


Jessica Greenstein

IT Applications Administrator

*E / *

*P / *336.316.2112

5800 West Friendly Avenue

Greensboro, NC 27410 <>


Sent: Wednesday, December 23, 2015 10:00 AM

To: Jessica Greenstein

Subject: Re: - Moving from Moodle to Canvas

Canvas Community


Moving from Moodle to Canvas

reply from Melissa Wetherby


in Higher Education - View the full discussion


Community Member

One more tidbit,​. Our in-house trainer advised us not to migrate everything, but to build by scratch or at least import quizzes and assignments, etc., separately rather than the entire course. The one course that I pulled everything in from Moodle was not pretty—a ton of crap was imported with it. It kinda looked like having dinner served to you with cans and packaging included on the plate.


Hi,​.  My university is in the migration process right now from Moodle to Canvas.  We are on the down slope, thankfully, and the process has been going on for almost a year.  Some of my reflections and advice to you as I look back on our process:

  • Keep your Canvas pilot small, but be sure you have representative courses/faculty from each department.  We took volunteers first, and then we coerced a few more in order to get the representation needed.
  • Be sure to communicate up front with faculty what the purpose of the pilot is (however you may articulate that).  Failure to do so could lead to some faculty thinking that the pilot is just a formality to switching, and they may think, "What's the point?  We're going to switch anyway."  You definitely want the faculty to feel like they have a voice in all of this.
  • Pilot faculty were given Canvas training sessions, both online and face to face.  The F2F sessions helped them feel some camaraderie, as many were hesitant to try out a new LMS.
  • To that end, make sure faculty know up front that you want their feedback on Canvas.  We designed a couple of surveys to administer to our pilot faculty: 1 survey after the 2-week mark of a course and another at the end of the course.  The surveys were used to gauge the faculty's satisfaction and assessment of Canvas at different points in the process.
  • Even more important than administering the surveys, we shared the results of the surveys at faculty meetings.  We even compared responses to similar question at the 2-week mark vs. end-of-course.  The results were readily available, and we had discussion about the results.  We didn't hide the fact that these results would help us determine whether or not we would be moving to Canvas.
  • In addition, we also surveyed pilot students at these same points in the course.  This data was also shared and used to influence the decision.
  • We hosted monthly lunch meetings with the pilot faculty.  We fed them lunch and simply had an hour of round-table discussion about what they liked/disliked about Canvas, and what was working well.  This helped to build some collaboration and collegiality among pilot faculty, and they often shared best practices with each other.  This helped build positive momentum during the pilot period.
  • At the end and before a decision was made, we hosted a panel discussion.  Selected pilot faculty and students sat on a panel together.  They shared their experiences with Canvas and fielded questions from other faculty who had not been a part of the pilot.
  • Lastly, go to InstructureCon 2016!  When we signed on to pilot, 4 of us went to InstructureCon 2015, and it was an incredibly valuable way for us to begin the process.  We were able to leave the conference with a specific plan and recommendations for how the pilot would proceed, and we felt like we had answers to all our questions.

Ultimately, when we moved to adopt Canvas, there was great positive momentum toward the change.  Our roll out is coming in stages.  We first opened up Canvas to volunteers this semester (many faculty are teaching in Canvas now).  The entire campus will be on Canvas in the fall, so those stubborn few will have the summer to get trained and make the transition.

I'm sure there are details I've left out.  Feel free to ask more questions if you want.  Hope this helps!


Jeremy Van Kley

Olivet Nazarene University

Community Member

Thank you Jeremy for sharing this valuable information!


YW.  One more thing: let me know if you want to see the surveys we administered.  I can post copies here for you.

Surveyor II

Just DON'T do it. Moodle is far superior to Canvas. You have a good thing going. Please do not disturb it.