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Learner II

Importing Discussions with the Same Name . . .

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An instructor created four discussions called Discussion Board 1,  Discussion Board 2, etc.  then she edited those clearly for the upcoming course.  Then she decided to import content from a previous course and chose to import everything.  The name of the discussions from the previous course matched the name of the discussions in the course she was working on.  Then she found out that the entire content was overwritten with the older content.   Then she could not retrieve the most recent version of the discussion.  Then she called me.   Is this accurate that Canvas does not make copies of the discussion and give two versions.  This seems like a problem that could happen more frequently than preferred.  

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Hi mmoore1@vcccd.edu  - While I can understand the instructor's frustration (and yours), I'm not entirely surprised.  We always advise instructors to choose the "all content" option only with 100% "empty" courses.  The Canvas documentation kind of makes mention of this on this page:

Importing a course more than once may have unintended consequences. If you import content into a new course, edit the content in the new course, and later import the previous content again, the imported content will override the existing content.

Now, I realize that the instructor did not import material "more than once," since it sounds like she imported it only after first creating the Discussions in the new site. Nevertheless, when they are the exact same name, my own non-technical opinion with this is that it can be playing with fire, as so often occurs whenever there are identically-named things.

You may want to file a support case with Instructure to try to retrieve the previous Discussions; my general understanding is that this is the only way to try to access removed Discussions, since they won't generally appear when trying to undelete content. 

I couldn't find any other official documentation on this behavior, though you may also want to make sure that she didn't do something in the previous course first, as outlined in kona@richland.edu‌' reply here: Duplicating imported content versus overwriting it.  There is also stefaniesanders‌' sage advice to "be careful" in similar circumstances to what your instructor did here: Importing a course .

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Hi mmoore1@vcccd.edu  - While I can understand the instructor's frustration (and yours), I'm not entirely surprised.  We always advise instructors to choose the "all content" option only with 100% "empty" courses.  The Canvas documentation kind of makes mention of this on this page:

Importing a course more than once may have unintended consequences. If you import content into a new course, edit the content in the new course, and later import the previous content again, the imported content will override the existing content.

Now, I realize that the instructor did not import material "more than once," since it sounds like she imported it only after first creating the Discussions in the new site. Nevertheless, when they are the exact same name, my own non-technical opinion with this is that it can be playing with fire, as so often occurs whenever there are identically-named things.

You may want to file a support case with Instructure to try to retrieve the previous Discussions; my general understanding is that this is the only way to try to access removed Discussions, since they won't generally appear when trying to undelete content. 

I couldn't find any other official documentation on this behavior, though you may also want to make sure that she didn't do something in the previous course first, as outlined in kona@richland.edu‌' reply here: Duplicating imported content versus overwriting it.  There is also stefaniesanders‌' sage advice to "be careful" in similar circumstances to what your instructor did here: Importing a course .

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We would like to see either a warning message to the instructor or a duplicate object created as content gets overwritten.  Yes, I am aware of the documentation.  Perhaps this is an item for voting?  Or is there a Discussion Group or Import Group submitting ideas to Canvas.

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Sounds like an item for a Feature Idea, Matthew; not sure of any other way to get word to the engineers regarding this.

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Couldn't the instructor not select the Discussions portion of the course to import into the new course?

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