Import Course Content

Importing Blackboard Course Content into Canvas —Best Practices

Blackboard and Canvas are two entirely different systems and have different ways in organizing courses. The tools and features that Blackboard and Canvas offer are also different. We highly recommend building your Canvas course from scratch.  By building your course from scratch, you will become more familiar with Canvas and the great features/tools that it has to offer. Take a look at our MSU Canvas vs Blackboard - Comparison tools. This is also an opportunity to rethink how to reorganize your course in Canvas.

Starting fresh with a Canvas course is also more time efficient since importing an archived, Blackboard course into Canvas requires a significant amount of time to clean and reorganize the imported course content.

If you are planning on importing an archived Blackboard course into Canvas, Canvas has developed a course import tool to allow users to import content. However, there are important things you should know about the process and what to expect when using and navigating an imported Blackboard course.

For those who would like to import content from a saved, archived Blackboard file, please carefully review the table below, and the process on how to import a Blackboard course to Canvas. Also take a look at our MSU Canvas vs Blackboard - Comparison tools (linked file).

Canvas Import Recommendation Table


I. Expected to Know

II. How to Import a Bb Course to Canvas

III. How to Add Course Files into Your Canvas Course


I. Expected to Know

  1. Assignments/Safe Assignments
    Canvas does not use Safe Assign, so any Safe Assignments imported from Blackboard into Canvas will be normal assignments in Canvas.  If files are attached to assignments, they will not be imported.  Points associated with assignments transfer. Manual columns created in the Blackboard Grade Center will be imported and assignments representing those columns will be generated .
  2. Course Files
    You can import course files from Blackboard however this process is not seamless.  Blackboard files are often exported in a messy way.  Should you decide to import your course files, carefully select the files individually.  Do not use the Select All files option.  Keep in mind that you can always download your course files individually from Blackboard, place them in a folder, zip the folder and import the zipped folder into Canvas.
  3. Discussion Boards
    Discussion Board topics/prompts can be imported into your new Canvas course. However, student discussion replies/threads inside cannot be imported. If you find you need student replies, you should save them using an external program (Microsoft Word or the collect tool in Blackboard).
  4. Tests, Surveys & Pools
    Tests, Surveys and Pools will import into the Quizzes section. Pools are accessed by selecting Quizzes, Manage Question Banks.  Not all questions types are transferable.  Common question types should be fine like multiple-choice, true/false, fill in the blanks, essay, matching. The quiz/test should be thoroughly reviewed prior to publishing.
  5. Wikis
    Although Wikis technically transfer over to the Pages section with the Course Import Tool, there were issues during our 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 copying and pasting each page's content into the Pages section of your Canvas course, then re-linking them back together.
  6. Bb course content items
    If you attempt to import your Blackboard content items, each item generates a Wiki Page in Canvas.  For example, you have 15 items in Additional Resources in a Blackboard course.  While importing content from your Blackboard archive file, you select Wiki Pages.  Canvas will generate 15 different Wiki Pages; each page representing one piece of content.  It would be more beneficial and productive to copy and paste the information from Blackboard, organizing the content into well designed Pages and Modules.
  7. Bb Course Folders
    Bb course folders are generally used for course organization. Although this isn't something that is imported into the course (the files within folders can. See #2 above for Course Files), it is something that you will want to rethink when putting together your course in Canvas. Modules are the highly recommended tool to substitute course folders to reorganize your courses.  
  8. Non-Transferable Contents
    When using the Course Import Tool, some content that will not transfer (or transfer so incompletely it is virtually useless) from Blackboard includes:
    Blogs: Blogs in Canvas are recommended to substitute by using Discussion
    Groups: Groups have to be recreated in Canvas
    Journals: Journals can be recreated by using Assignments with online submission options
    Wikis (incomplete/unlinked pages): Wikis are the Pages in Canvas


II. How to Import a Bb Course to Canvas

Step One: Make sure you have a copy of an archived Bb course.

Step Two: Do the following

  1. Login to Canvas at with your NetId user name and password
  2. Navigate to the course into which you wish to import content
  3. Select Settings in the Navigation Menu
  4. Click Import Content into this Course button (See image below)


5. In the Content Type drop-down menu select Blackboard 6/7/8 & 9 export .zip file (see image below)


6. Click the Browse button and select the Blackboard archived file

7. Click Select Migration Content

8. Click Import

9. A progress bar will appear on the import screen, tracking the progress of your file import. Once the importing process has run, click the Select Content button (see image below)


10. Select the items/objects that you would like to import. (See image below). You may select Tests/Quizzes, Discussion Boards etc. Take a look at our Canvas Import Recommendation Table.
Note: When selecting Course Files, select the files individually.  Do NOT select the files with .xml extensions

 11. Then click Select Content (see image below)


Additional Note regarding imported files: Most often, when files are imported they are imported into the Files>csfiles>home_dir

To view your course files:

  1. Select Files in the Navigation Menu
  2. Click on the csfiles folder to open it
  3. Click on the home_dir folder to open it (See image below)

Due to the way Blackboard stores its documents, you may have to “drill-down” further in the Files area of the course to view/access imported documents


III. How to Add Course Files into Your Canvas Course

To simply add files from your archived Blackboard course into your Canvas course, first follow the steps to archive your course in Blackboard, then download the archived file

  1. Double click your downloaded, archived, Blackboard course folder to unzip it
  2. Login to Canvas at with your NetId user name and password
  3. Navigate to the course you wish to import content into
  4. Select Files in the Navigation Menu (see image below)

4. Click the Add Files button (see image below)

5. A pop up window will appear for you to select the file/files to upload. (see image below)

6. Browse to the Blackboard unzipped folder, navigate to the "csfiles" folder and then "home_dir" folder to view your list of course files

7. Select the file/files for upload and click Open. (see image below)

Note: When selecting Course Files, Do NOT select the files with .xml extensions


Watch the screencast below for further help with importing files

Adding Course Files into Canvas