Re-use Canvas Content From Past Semesters

Each course in Canvas comes pre-loaded with ITG’s template. The template’s primary purpose is to help guide your course structure and design, particularly in cases where you’re building the course for the first time from scratch. 

If you’re teaching a course that you’ve already built in Canvas previously, you can use Canvas’s course import tool to copy content from your old course to your new one. You can either Import Selected Content (Recommended) or Import All Content from one course to another.

Why Choose to Import Selected Content?

  • If you’d like to use any of your new course’s template components, like the integrated Recording Consent Form assignment.
  • If you want to have the most up-to-date information. Your past courses may have had a template in them that looks similar to the one you see in your new course(s), but the template is revised to be most up-to-date each semester.
  • If you want to save yourself time by not copying old announcements, calendar events, no longer accurate information about campus resources on the syllabus page, or other out-of-date content. Taking the time to skip this content now means that you don’t have to delete it later!

Why Choose to Import All Content?

  • If you’ve been working in a template course and have already updated your content and just want to copy it over.
  • If you want time to look at your materials holistically before making decisions about what content to update or remove.
  • If you have already done extensive customization in the previous course that you want to keep - for example, integrated apps or adjusted course navigation. 

Things you might want to do before importing

  • If you don't need to preserve anything in the course you're importing into, reset the course to wipe ALL content. New, upcoming courses only contain ITG's template, which you can safely reset. Or, you can selectively delete content from the course you're importing into:
    • If you already have a home page you’re happy with from a previous course, delete the template home page.
    • If you already have modules that you’re happy with from a previous course, delete the Orientation and Week 1 template modules. 
    • If you don’t need them, delete the Week 1 Discussion, Week 1 Assignment, Orientation Overview Page, and Week 1 Overview Page.

How to do a selective import

Here’s a guide from Canvas Support on how to select specific content to import. In addition to the instructions in that guide, make sure you:

  • Do not check Announcements (you will only see Announcements appear on the Select Content screen if you had announcements in your previous course).
  • Do not check Calendar Events (you will only see Calendar Events appear on the Select Content screen if you had calendar events in your previous course).
  • Shift dates from previous semester dates to current/future dates.

Things you should do after importing

  • If you have any interest in recording some or all of your class meetings, add the Emerson College Recording Consent Form Assignment to your Orientation/Week 0 or Week 1 module if it isn’t in your course already. 
  • Double-check and edit assignment dates using the bulk date editor.  
  • Validate the links in your course. 

What you should do before importing

  • Reset your course to wipe ALL content including ITG’s remote template. If you do not do this, you will end up with duplicate content, including duplicate home pages.

How to import all course content 

Here’s a guide from Canvas Support on how to import all course content. Before you initiate the import, be sure to shift dates from previous semester dates to current/future dates.

Things you should do after importing

You’ve Imported, Now What?

Congrats, you’ve imported content from a previous semester’s course, now you can start building out your new course(s). Please review the Course Review Checklist to make sure you don’t miss any steps!

Any questions?

If you’re unsure which import method to choose or have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to ITG at or 617-824-8090!

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