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. 

Before importing any previous course content into your new course, please take a look at the content already in your new course. Decide what you would like to keep and delete what you don’t want to keep. The template is updated each semester to have the most up-to-date content, including information and links to resources.

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 is importing better than copying and pasting?

We strongly advise against copying and pasting content from one Canvas course to another because doing so would result in broken course links. For example, if you link to an assignment on one of your module overview pages, then copy and paste that link from Course A to Course B, the link you copied will only be valid for Course A. Students in Course B won't be able to access it because they are not enrolled in Course A. 

With importing, Canvas automatically updates links to course content to be valid for the course you're importing to as long as you link to course content in the original course using this recommended method.

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announcements, calendar events, no longer accurate information about campus resources on the syllabus page, or other out-of-date content.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

  • Happy with the home page from your previous course? Delete the template home page.
  • Happy with the Orientation module from a previous course? Delete the template Orientation module. 
  • Check your previous syllabus guidelines against the ones in the template, and see if the previous ones will need updating. If so, save a copy of the template policies to paste into your imported syllabus.
  • 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. 

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, we highly recommend you only import content you will use. Do the following to avoid issues and additional clean up:

  • Leave Announcements unchecked.
  • Leave Calendar Events unchecked.
  • Shift dates from previous semester dates to current/future dates.

Things you should do after importing

What you should do before importing

  • Reset your new 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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