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Undo Course Imports

Undo Course Imports


It seems that users should be able to undo or delete items they have imported into courses. On the Import Content page under the Current Jobs section, it would be very helpful to have an option to remove, delete, or undo each import individually. Currently if a mistake is made when importing to a course the only option seems to be to reset the entire course content. With users importing various resources from other courses and commons regularly, this solution would save a lot of time and heartache when such mistakes are made. To ask users to reset the entire course content, or to go through the entire course content and find every file, page, or assignment that may have been connected to that import and delete them individually seems like unfair punishment for an easily made mistake. It seems this would also possibly encourage more users to embrace the Canvas Community and use amazing resources like Commons, without fear of making such a mistake, or the time consuming steps of importing to a sandbox first then importing to the desired destination.

Community Champion

I would recommend that folks stop using the Import Selected Content tool to import individual content from other courses.  Instead, use the copy/share content tool.  It is a new tool added this summer and is much easier to do and removes the possibility of making an accidental huge error. You can copy content between courses or share with other teachers.  It allows the sharing of assignments, discussions, announcements, quizzes, and pages.  Since it was released this summer, I only import content at the start of the semester.  The rest of the semester I copy between courses.

As far as an undo, as a former instructional designer, I've made my share of accidental imports.  But I've learned my lesson and am more careful now. 


New Member

I think it would be very helpful to have the ability to undo an import and/or restore a course to prior point.

Community Participant

I was recently in Chat support and was hoping to see an improvement made in Commons.

Currently there is no warning message visible when a Commons update is available that explains the potential of overwriting existing content since the entire asset is updated rather than the specific element that was changed.

Alternatively, if a user could "undo Commons Import" if in fact their content changes to minimize the stress on campus admins and/or Canvas support to help restore the previous content.

It's not ideal to ask every faculty to have a separate sandbox course for a Commons course template so they can do a selective course copy to their live/active courses to avoid this overwriting issue.


Community Participant

Provide the capability to restore a complete course to a prior version via a 1-click option.

While Pages does provide the revision history, we have the undelete option, and we have Beta and Test copies of courses that can be used, sometimes these are not enough to restore a course to a previous state after a change like a course import.

It would be very useful to have a 1-click option for those times when a complete reversion to a previous course state is needed.  

Community Member

I'm currently testing the import of quiz data, using a sandbox course. The nature of this activity means errors are highly likely, and I now have a number of imports stacked up that have either failed or have issues. These are effectively useless and distracting.

I know I can use the Reset Course Content feature but there is other content in the sandbox that I'd like to retain. A feature for removing old imports, especially failed test imports, would be really incredibly useful for developers like myself. 

New Member

Canvas  VERY MUCH needs a way to easily remedy errors involving Import Content function. Just as the <gnoak> says above above --to "avoid a huge accidental error." That is an understatement.  I was told by a Canvas rep a few weeks ago to use Import Content to import a single item (an Assignment) that I wanted to retrieve from last semester's course. I tried to do that using instructions I had written down while talking with the representative. Despite the fact that it looked like I was doing every correctly (and discussion with a Canvas rep and local admin after the fact, it appears I was taking the proper steps), something went wrong, and all of the Quizzes from the prior semester's course shell were imported into my current course. This created major havoc in my course and has disrupted my teaching (I had to postpone a quiz, hide Grades, etc), because all of the Quizzes for this semester suddenly had last semester's title, instructions, and all of the questions PLUS all of the current semester's questions. Therefore "Points possible" on each Quiz is completely wrong, so all of my students' course grades were extremely wrong! A person getting an F was suddenly showing 110%. 

I also don't know why Canvas overwrote & combined last semester's Quizzes with this semester's Quizzes when I used Import Content and it created the error described above. I had thought it might have to do with the fact that I had imported last semester's course before this semester, to build this semester's course. I had been told by Canvas this semester that I didn't need to worry that my Quizzes this semester would have the same Quiz ID as for the course last semester. And for one of this semester's Quizzes that got over-written and combined with last semester's Quiz during this "Import Error" I am describing,  I checked the ID's and the Quiz ID's differ between the two semesters. So why did the two Quizzes get combined then?

This has been an absolute mess to try to fix and is currently involving hours and hours of work (time I don't get paid for) to manually restore the course. First, if using Import Content, it should be clear what you are importing and a question should be asked "Are you sure you want to import all "X number" of items?" If such a message had appeared, I would have recognized that what Canvas was going to do was import many many more files than the ONE that I wanted. Next, instructors also very much need the ability to Restore a course...either from the Beta version of the course, or some other backup that Canvas has. Yes, as a Canvas rep told me this week... you can export your course from the Beta site, then upload it to your Live course. The problem is, none of the students' scores will be in that import! That doesn't solve the problem. We need to be able to restore the student data! 

Canvas is a great tool and does many things well. But it seems to me that the fact that an instructor can so easily mess up an entire course so dramatically is a huge gaping oversight that needs to be addressed right away.

If I want to delete a file, Canvas asks me "Are you sure you want to delete that file?" And that is just ONE file. Why, then, will Canvas allow me to do something that has literally destroyed my course... with no alert at all?

Thank you.

Community Member

I second using the copy and share tools instead of import. The import tool seems useful for bulk content. I add my vote to requesting, undo or delete import and clear the import log, 

Community Contributor

This would be a wonderful tool to have. Nothing is worse for the teacher when then accidentally import in the wrong direction, or overwrite existing content with a second import (classic quizzes seems to be the most impacted by this). 

Community Participant

Agreed, a quick and easy 'one click' button to restore a course to a previous version would save a lot of time and frustration and headaches for our educators. We know they are often time-poor, and some have limited capability in the LMS. Instead of punishing them by offering reset-course-content (which can be a bad move depending on student participation for example) or manual deleting of content, offer them a one button solution. 

Community Champion

@gnoack, using the Copy to will overwrite the same way importing does if the assignment has been previously overwritten. So we need to be just as careful with that copy method.

From How do I copy an assignment to another course? - Instructure Community (  "If you copy the same assignment to the same course more than once, the assignment you previously copied will be overwritten with the newly copied assignment."

New Member

Being able to delete a mistaken import would be ideal for users AND free up precious Canvas support staff time.  Thank you for the consideration!

New Member

Allow faculty to cancel/abort course imports.

Community Member

This would have saved me so much headache over the last few years with accidental import overwrites. It's ridiculous how easy it is to permanently destroy content in this way - and instructors' cognitive loads teaching multiple online classes maybe even between various institutions means this will be a repeated user issue.  

New Member


At the bare minimum.  importing selected course content should be the default option with import entire course hidden and hard to accidently click.

New Member

I accidentally imported a WHOLE course instead of only one assignment and I was blown away to learn from tech. support that there's no way to undo this action. I of course realize this mistake, but for as long as the product has been around I imagine there are many instances of this issue occurring. Simply changing the user-interface for how one goes about selecting one option from the other when importing would help. The little radio buttons are so close together and have the same look and feel from one option to the next.


Either the undo option or at least a UI change for those import radio buttons would be better than what's currently provided.