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Best Practices for Migrating from Moodle to Canvas

Best Practices for Migrating from Moodle to Canvas

Best Practices for Migrating Content from Moodle to Canvas

This document will help guide you to working with your migrated content from Moodle. Note: Faculty, as issues come up, please report them to the DE Coordinator so we can add to these tips.

If you want information about how to migrate content, see: How to Migrate Moodle Course Content

Though most of your content will transfer over,  you will definitely need to work with the content to make sure it came over with all of the settings and formatting you want.


Note: Content borrowed and modified slightly from Santa Rosa Junior College Distance Education Website: https://de.santarosa.edu/content/working-migrated-content 

An important consideration when setting up your Canvas course is deciding on how to structure it. In Canvas, it is highly recommended that you use Modules to organize a course. Modules will provide a guided learning experience, a central place where the student will find links to pages, assignments, discussions, etc. in a set sequence.

Using Canvas Modules will be similar to Moodle sections of topics, weeks, units, etc. The built-in Course navigation on the left side of the Canvas interface, the home page, and Modules will be the main ways student navigate a course. The Canvas student will use Modules to quickly see the contents of each week or unit’s work with pages, assignments, and discussions being parts of each module, rather than parts of long web pages.

Moodle users that access their Moodle migrated content will find that their course Modules have already been populated with their content based on their Moodle section content.

Here is a helpful site that illustrates Pages vs Modules.


  • When you first access “Pages,” the migrated pages will be in alphabetical order. Creating order in your course will come from Modules, so that is where you should start. You will pull in the pages you want to use into Modules. You can also use numbers to put them in numerical order.


  • Visit the Modules area of your course by clicking on the “Modules” navigation element in your Course navigation. (Note that the link may be gray if you do not have published Modules yet).
  • Moodle users will have modules set up based on the Moodle sections for weeks, topics, units, etc. used.
    • Module heading text may be “Untitled” if you had used dates for your Moodle sections.
    • Within the Modules, Moodle users may notice that the assignments, quizzes, and pages are not in the same order as before. Most likely you will need to order these as you want.
  • See this Canvas video on Modules or this list of Canvas guides on Modules for more information on working with Modules.


Not every item in your former course may have come over just the way you want. Here are some things to check for.


  • Check your content for references to Moodle. On each page, you can use the browser’s Find to locate these references. Use the Command (Mac) or Control (PC) + the F key to activate the Find function.
  • Browser-specific information, such as “accessing the videos work best in Firefox” will likely not be needed anymore.
  • LINKS: the migration tools we have are pretty good, but it is a good idea to check all links in your course to make sure they are operational and go where you want them to.
    • You may find that URL hyperlink text is still there, but the text is no longer a hyperlink. This would be a good time to reconsider using a URL as hyperlink text. Good accessibility practice is to make your hyperlink text descriptive of where the link is going.
    • Take notice if you linked to other Moodle pages. These may not be linked any more.
    • Moodle discussion forum links will need to be changed to the link for the new Canvas Discussion forums.
    • Links to Moodle quizzes will be marked in red on your new Canvas pages. You will need to change the links to the imported quizzes and tests that are now in Canvas.
  • HEADINGS: for accessibility, check your content for correct heading structure. Make sure that headings are real headings, not just simulated headings. Access the paragraph/heading drop down in the Rick Content Editor to apply Header 2, Header 3, or Header 4 to headings. Assign the headings in a hierarchy that reflects the structure of the content.
  • LISTS: make sure that lists are real lists, not faux lists. Use the ordered and unordered list buttons in the Rich Content Editor to create lists.


In most cases, you will need to manually upload video files either to Canvas if they are not too large and plentiful, or to 3CMedia Solutions if there is a large amount of space needed. Canvas provides 500 MB of space for each course. If needed, you can request more Canvas space, but it is recommended that you use 3CMedia Solutions. If your videos are in the Flash format (.swf files), you will not be able to use 3CMedia Solutions. See more information on using 3C Media Solutions on the Instructor-Created Media page.

If you had your video files stored in Moodle, check to see if they came over in the migration files.

When uploading the files to Canvas, access the Rich Content Editor and use the Record/Upload Media button. See the How do I upload a video using the Rich Content Editor Canvas guide for step-by-step instructions.


From the Moodle migration process, all files (images and documents) have been placed in your Files directory, most in the root level, and if you had images from tests, they will be in a folder called “testimages”.

  • Click on the +Folder button found on the right side of the interface in the Files area.
  • Name the folder and hit the Return or Enter key to create the folder.
  • Drag and drop files into the folder. Canvas will update any linking you have to the file.


Check your Canvas Question Banks and tests to make sure that all questions migrated over. Most tests and quizzes will keep the various settings you created Moodle, but in a few cases, you will need to make some adjustments.

  • Question types that do not map to a similar Canvas version are those that award partial credit for answers, and questions that don’t have a correct answer (survey-type of questions).
  • To correctly set up a survey-type of quiz that you have migrated to Canvas, click on the Quiz in the Quizzes area, you will be in the Quiz settings screen, from the Quiz Type drop down, choose Ungraded Survey.
  • In Moodle quizzes, you have a choice for each question to be randomized or not for the answers, but in Canvas it’s either all randomized or not. Check this setting when you migrate quizzes


@One has created a Moodle to Canvas Migration Quick Start Guide PDF. This document is helpful for outlining Moodle content and showing what the Canvas equivalents are in the table on the first 2 pages. Note that the rest of the PDF has many pages devoted to the actual migration of Moodle content to Canvas. These steps are not necessary. All SRJC instructors who have taught at SRJC in Spring 2015, Summer 2015, and Fall 2015 have those courses migrated into their Canvas accounts. See more under Course Shells.


There is no identical tool in Canvas for Moodle books. When your content uploads into Canvas, separate pages are automatically created; students can navigate these pages with Back/Forward buttons at the bottom of each pate (the buttons are automated). And students can see the list of pages in the Modules tab for the course. We’re finding that many instructors put very little content on each page of their Moodle books. For those cases, we’re encouraging instructors to combine content onto fewer pages. Having more than a few pages within a single Module gets cluttered in the Module content listings.


There is not a Glossary tool in Canvas. There is an ongoing discussion on the Canvas Community site about a potential glossary tool. Visit this page to vote to encourage Canvas to create a glossary tool.


Moodle users most likely added assignment information to the presentation pages in a course. In Canvas, it is best to create Assignments. Adding assignment information this way will populate the assignment information throughout the course, such as in the calendar, and make it easy to add the information in Modules so that students will easily find the information. See the “How do I create an Assignment?” Canvas guide for more information.


Moodle users who created forums, will find that they have been migrated as Discussions and installed in Modules. See the How do I create a Discussion as an instructor?”Canvas guide for more information.


In Canvas, you have many options to choose and set up your course landing, or home page. Once you have navigated to one of your courses, on the right side there will be a button for “Choose Home Page”. A box pops up with 5 choices:

  1. Course Activity Stream 
  2. Pages Front Page – for this choice you will need to go to pages, publish the page you want to be the home page and then set it to be the home page. See the “How do I change the Course Home Page?”  and the “How do I set a Front Page for my course?”Canvas guides.
  3. Course Modules – this choice will be much like the Moodle landing page for a course, with the limitation that you can only display one line of text for each Module or item in a Module.
  4. Assignments List 
  5. Syllabus – the syllabus is the only part of a course that you can choose to make public, outside of setting your whole course to be public.


Choose what the student sees in the Course navigation area on the left side. Any area such as Modules, Assignments, Files, etc. that have content in your Canvas course will show to the student (in most areas the content also needs to be published to be visible to the student). If you do not have any content published, such as in Assignments for instance, then the Assignments course navigation will be hidden to the student. In the instructor view, what is grayed out will not show to students.


It is recommended that you hide the “Files” area because likely it will not be very useful for students and can cause confusion. You may want to hide other areas as well.

You can choose to hide navigation to areas that you have content in by following these steps:

  • From your Dashboard, choose a course
  • Choose Settings from the Course navigation (inner vertical navigation – if you do not see these links to the right of the dark blue bar global navigation, either make your browser wider or click on the mobile navigation button – the three short lines)
  • From the horizontal nav at the top of the interface, choose Navigation
  • Drag and drop items to the lower part of the interface where it says “Drag items here to hide them from students”. The items dragged here will be hidden from the student, but not in the instructor view.


To see what the student sees when navigating the course, follow these steps:

  • From your Dashboard, choose a Course
  • Choose Settings from the Course navigation (inner vertical navigation – if you do not see these links to the right of the dark blue bar global navigation, either make your browser wider or click on the mobile navigation button – the three short lines)
  • Click on the Student View button from the right sidebar

Note: Content borrowed and modified slightly from Santa Rosa Junior College Website: https://de.santarosa.edu/content/working-migrated-content