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Copy a Canvas Course

Last updated on June 18, 2024

The start of a new semester can be a stressful time for instructors. Fortunately, there is one major part that is quick and painless: copying forward your Canvas course into a new shell. With just a little preparation, you can copy your course into the new semester; the whole process only takes about 10 minutes!

To make sure you’re copying the right content and not accidentally creating duplicates, we strongly advise you to follow the instructions we’ve provided here. While it may seem simpler to just choose a course and copy all of the content, this can create duplicates of template material and make finding the correct content more challenging. Don’t worry though! It takes just a little extra time to do everything right and you’ll be glad you did!

If you need any help at all with this process, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our CTLD instructional design support specialists are ready to help you during our drop-in hours or via email or voicemail.

Best Practices

  • Your new course shells for the upcoming semester will be available in your account a couple of months before the new term, but we recommend holding off on copying until the current class ends. If you make any changes, they’ll be reflected in the new course.
  • It’s a good idea to make changes you want for the new semester after completing the copy process. That way you’ll maintain a record of exactly how the class looked in the previous semester.
  • You can copy any course you’ve taught at MSU Denver on Canvas. Please note that MSU switched from Blackboard to Canvas as its LMS in the summer of 2020. If you’re trying to copy a course that was last taught on Blackboard, please follow these instructions.
  • You’ll want to do a little prep work in the new and old courses before you copy. This just takes a few minutes and it will help make sure you don’t have annoying and confusing duplicate content.
  • If you think you’ve made a mistake and things look wrong, don’t worry! We can help you fix nearly any kind of problem and whatever has happened is almost certainly reversible. Please use the support resources above if you think something is wrong.

Let’s walk through it together!


Clean Up the Old Course

  1. Open the Old Course in Canvas. This is the course you are copying from.
  2. Click Modules in the left-hand course navigation menu.
  3. Find the Course Information module.
  4. Click the More Options (3 Dots) button to the right of the module name.
  5. Click Edit in the drop-down menu.
  6. Click the Text Field with the module name.
  7. Change the Name by adding some sort of signifier that this is the Course Information module that you have edited and would like to keep using.
    • For example, you could add the course name to the end, such as Course Information – PSY 1001.
  8. Click Update Module in the bottom right-hand corner.
  9. Repeat this process for each item in the module.

Prep the New Course

  1. Open the New Course in Canvas. This is the course you are copying into.
  2. Click Modules in the left-hand course navigation menu.
  3. Find the Course Information module.
  4. Click the More Options (3 Dots) button to the right of the module name.
  5. Click Delete.
  6. Click OK when asked if you’re sure you want to delete the module.

Copy the Course

  1. Open the New Course in Canvas.
  2. Or click Home, if you are already in the course.
  3. Click Import Existing Content in the right-hand course options menu.
  4. Click the drop-down menu next to Content Type.
  5. Click Copy a Canvas Course.
  6. Click the drop-down menu next to Search for a course.
  7. Click the name of the Old Course.
  8. Click the circle next to Select Specific Content.
    • Optional – Click Adjust Events and Due Dates and fill out the information if you want Canvas to automatically adjust the dates for your content.
  9. Click Import.
  10. Click Select Content to the right of the new copy job.
  11. Check Every Box except for Pages.
    • Any Page in a module will be copied over as long as that Module is selected. Since there are many template pages in each course shell, copying over every page will result in many duplicates and is it impractical to deselect every page you don’t want copied. You can avoid creating duplicates by bringing over only the pages in Modules, which should be all of the Pages you use.
    • Note: If there are any Pages you want to be copied but do not want visible to students, either select them individually in this menu or put them in an unpublished repository module in the course.
  12. Click the Arrow icon next to Modules to expand the category.
  13. Uncheck University Policies and Resources, Sample Module, and any Course Information modules that you marked in Part 1.
  14. Click the Arrow icon next to Modules to collapse the category.
  15. Repeat steps 11-13 to deselect:
    • Midpoint Student Feedback Survey in Quizzes.
    • Student Introductions, Course FAQ Forum, and Casual Conversations in Discussions.
    • Report an Accessibility Issue and Yuja in External Tools.
    • Any Announcements you don’t want to reuse (you can deselect the entire Announcements category if you wish).
  16. Click Select Content in the bottom right-hand corner.

After the Copy

There’s not much left to do after copying your course. Here are a few things to consider.

  • You’ll want to change the due dates for all of your assignments or check the accuracy of the due dates if you chose Adjust Events and Due Dates during the copy process. Our Adjust Due Dates for All Assignments tutorial can walk you through a quick and easy way to do that.
  • Groups don’t copy over, so if your class uses groups, you can view our Create Groups in Canvas tutorial for help making new ones.
  • By the end of the last semester, nearly all of the content was probably published, so it’s a good idea to go through and check that only the content you want is published (the green checkmark appears to the right of the content).