Best Practices

Unless you absolutely need to import a Blackboard course, it is always best to start fresh with a new course. However, this is not always possible.

Using the Course Import Tool alone will leave some content disorganized and often lost. Since Blackboard and Canvas organize content differently, some content will not translate.

To address this challenge, use this guide of best practices when moving a Blackboard course into Canvas. It's best to use different approaches for different areas of a course:

  • Best to import with the Course Import Tool
  • Best to import separately (gather content and recreate)
  • Best to start fresh


Best to Import Using the Course Import Tool

Announcements, Calendar, Glossary, and Tasks

These organizational tools will easily transfer over to Canvas. Note that there are no tools equivalent to "glossary" or "tasks" in Canvas, so the content will transfer to the Pages section of your Canvas course.

Assignments, SafeAssignments, and Grade Center

These three tools will import hand-in-hand. Since there is no SafeAssign feature within Canvas, both assignments and SafeAssignments will import as normal assignments. This, in turn, will create a column for each assignment in the Gradebook.

Tests, Surveys, and Pools

Tests, Surveys, and Pools will all import into the Quizzes section. Note that Pools will not show up on the front quizzes page, but will be accessible by going to Quizzes > Manage Question Banks.

Some quiz questions may be in formats that do not transfer to Canvas. Formats other than standard quiz questions (multiple choice, fill in the blanks, essay, matching, numerical, formula) should be checked before a quiz is published. If a question format is not supported by Canvas, the question will become a text-only question (students will not have the option to answer).

Best to Import Separately or Gather Content and Recreate

Course Files and Documents

Because Blackboard files are nested, files from Course Files and Course Documents end up importing in a rather messy way and are hard to find in a new Canvas course. We recommend downloading all course files and documents to a .zip file, then importing them directly into the File section of your Canvas course. This way, your files will be easier to find and organize. See the Importing Course Files help topic for step-by-step instructions of how to do this.

Discussion Board

During testing, discussion board threads would import into the Discussions area of the Canvas course. However, all responses to the threads were lost. This is an issue for instructors who wish to archive entire discussions around threads. Although tedious, the best work-around for this issue is to save screen shots or copy-and-pasted discussions into external documents, like Microsoft Word or a PDF file.


Although Wikis technically transfer over to the Pages section with the Course Import Tool, there were issues during testing where many wiki pages were missing. Additionally, the pages de-link upon import. If you would like to keep your wiki(s), the best way to do this is to copy and paste each page's content into the Pages section of your Canvas course, then link them back together.

Best to Start Fresh

Groups and Group Tools

Groups and group tools do not transfer from Blackboard to Canvas. Although the Course Import Tool will create a page for some groups or group tools, the pages are generally blank and have no enrollments or tools connected to them. Use Canvas Groups feature to create student groups instead.

Course Folders (General Course Organization)

Although this isn't something that is necessarily imported into the course (unless you count within Course Files), it is something that you will want to rethink when putting together your course.

Next: What to Expect

Last modified: January 9, 2014