Preparing Your Course for Canvas Migration

In spring 2023, we had the Canvas soft launch with limited courses. However, in the summer of 2023, ALL summer courses will be in Canvas. Your courses will be migrated from Blackboard to Canvas by request. Most content transfers without issue, but migration is not perfect. There may be some formatting issues, or 3rd party integrations, e.g., Turnitin, which may break. Some tools, such as journals and rubrics, do not transfer.

To prepare for the switch, you can clean up your current courses by removing old content and fixing any accessibility issues. After migration, ensure your content is working as expected. This article provides steps on how to prepare for the transition.

Note:  If you consider rebuilding your course from scratch in Canvas or need assistance in migration, contact your College Instructional Designer(s).

Steps for Canvas Migration


Step I: Clean Up and Check Course Content

Before the migration, you need to clean up your Blackboard course content, so that unused and duplicated files are not brought over to Canvas.  Here are some tips on how to clean your course content.

  • Bulk download course contents to the computer (Optional)

If you want to save a copy of every file in the Blackboard course to your computer or if you remove files accidentally, you will know you have a safe copy. You can do the bulk download.

Tutorial: How to Bulk Download all Blackboard Files

  • Delete duplicated and unneeded files

You should remove the duplicate file(s). Such files generally contain numbers in their file names, e.g., filename(1).docx, filename(2).docx, etc.

Tutorial: How to delete (unneeded) files in Blackboard Content Collection

  • Check for large files

    • PPTs with a lot of images
      These files not only take up a lot of space, but they are also harder for students to download. Convert them to the PDF version.
    • Media files – Audio and video
      Media files take up an enormous space. Move these files to other locations (see next section.)  
  • Move media files to other locations

All videos that have been directly uploaded into Blackboard should be moved to one of the following locations.
Note:  You do not need to move the video if you have used YouTube or UH OneDrive, or a similar product to embed/link the video in Blackboard.

    • UH OneDrive or SharePoint
      Move Video files to OneDrive or SharePoint where you’ll save space and make them easier to view, but you’ll also get the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) benefits of automatic captioning. After uploading videos to OneDrive or SharePoint, you can copy the video link to Canvas.

Tutorial: How to upload files or folders to OneDrive

Tutorial: How to generate transcript for video uploaded to OneDrive

    • YouTube
      After uploading videos to YouTube, you can copy the video link to Canvas. Although students might need to watch the advertisement from YouTube.

Tutorial: How to generate automatic subtitles/captions in YouTube video

    • Canvas Studio
      Canvas Studio is a video storage system that allows you to upload media files thereThe studio can generate captions and allow editing captions.

Tutorial: How to upload media files in Canvas Studio

  • Check nested folders

If you have nested folders in Blackboard, you need to move out of these nested folders before the migration because Canvas does not nest items. The name of the nested folders in Blackboard becomes text headers in Canvas. The contents of the folders are displayed indented under the text header. Creating new modules and moving each content to modules in Canvas is time-consuming. This tip is best for the course outside of the live session. If the course is in the live session, instructors can request to copy it to Blackboard DEV.

Note: If your Blackboard course exceeds its quota (2 GB,) your course can’t be migrated to Canvas.  Canvas admin will contact you for this issue.  Then, you can work with your College instructional designer(s) to reduce file size.

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Step II: Check Accessibility and Perform Accessibility Clean-Up

Review your documents to ensure they meet the standards of accessibility. Use the Blackboard Ally Accessibility Report to identify any issues that may need to be fixed.​

Tutorial: How to view your course Accessibility report in Blackboard​

You also can go to the Course Collection to find the files with low accessibility scores and fix the issues.

Tutorial: How to fix Accessibility issue in Blackboard Course Collection


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Step III:  Review Tests and Question Pools

To ensure you are migrating your test banks and quizzes correctly from Blackboard to Canvas, here are a few steps to take prior to beginning the process.  Some question formats do not transfer to Canvas, such as, Hot Spot and Quiz Bowl .

  • Check each exam and delete all unwanted/duplicated exams.

Tutorial: How to delete a test that is no longer needed

  • Check the naming convention per exam. Clearly label quizzes, homework, practice test and exams to make them easy to identify. Here are some examples CH1HW, CH1Quiz, CH1Exam/ Unit1HW Unit1Quiz, etc.
  • Repeat the process for the question pools by going to Course tools –> Tests, Surveys, & Pools –> Pools.
    Note:  If the pool is linked to an exam you will not see the option to delete the pool.  You are only allowed to delete pools that are not directly linked to exams in your course.

All tests/quizzes migrated to Canvas will automatically be set to unpublished.  Although popular question types (MC, T/F, Short Answer, Essay, Fill in the Blank) migrated successfully, preview questions before publishing the quiz in Canvas, especially questions with images, attached files, or web links.

All tests that used Respondus Lockdown Browser will have an access code that will need to be removed in Canvas. Respondus Lockdown Browser settings will have to be set up again in Canvas.

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Step IV: Review Your Course in Canvas after Migration

After your course has been migrated into Canvas, ensure all items are working as expected. Here are some tips:

  • Except for Quizzes, most course contents, such as pages, assignments, and discussions, were published after the migration. A course item with a green checkmark is published and visible to students. Please unpublish any course items if you want to hide them from students.
  • Blackboard content areas and folders get added as modules in Canvas. Make sure the items in modules are arranged correctly.
  • Blogs, journals and wikis do not exist in Canvas. If your course requires these tools, then consider using alternative methods, such as, discussions, assignments and editable pages in Canvas.
  • Ensure all tests, quizzes and questions banks have been imported and are working as expected.
  • Remove the access code for Lockdown Browser tests. Tutorial: How to Remove a Canvas Quiz’s Access Code Copied from Blackboard
  • Set up Lockdown Browser settings. Tutorial: How to Set up a Canvas Quiz with Respondus Lockdown Browser
  • Determine if all assignments are working as expected, and if the availability dates are set correctly. Blackboard rubrics may need to be recreated in Canvas.
  • Check if all communication (e.g., Announcements) and collaboration items (e.g., Discussion boards, groups ) are set up correctly.
  • Student groups, group assignments and peer review settings in assignments may not import correctly in Canvas. Make sure to check these settings.
  • Use the Course Link Validator in Canvas to check and correct internal and external links.
  • If you are using media files (e.g., mp4), make sure they are linked correctly.
  • Use Student View to ensure that students have access to only that portion of content that should be available to them.

Canvas: What to expect when your course is migrated (video)


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Step V: View Blackboard to Canvas Tool Comparison

The guide below lists the commonly used tools in Blackboard and their equivalents in Canvas. Please note that although some of the terminology may be the same, the tools may function differently in Canvas.

Tutorial: Blackboard-to-Canvas Tool Comparison


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