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New Semester – Import Course Content

Don't wait until tomorrow!Faculty can reuse course content from one semester to the next by simply importing content from an old course into a new course.

Official course shells (with students enrollments) are created two weeks before the first day of each term.

Course Preparation Options

There are two methods for moving course content from one semester to the next:

Method A:   Import from a development course

Faculty can create “development” courses to make changes before official courses are available.

Use Method A:

  • when building a new course
  • when substantial content updates are needed
  • when you want to get an early start

Method B:   Import from a previous course

Faculty can import past course content directly into a new official course any time during the two weeks before the beginning of the new semester.  No development course is needed.

Use Method B:

  • when there are relatively few changes to make


What’s the difference between a “development” course and an “official” course?

Development Courses

  • manually created by instructor
  • manually titled by instructor
    (cannot be changed)
  • can be created any time
  • no student enrollments
  • no student access
  • does not need to be Published
    (no effect)
  • no SIS ID
  • can be deleted

Official Courses

  • automatically generated by District IT services
  • automatically titled based on course information
    (Ex: BIOL 012 – (MW 10-11:15AM) M1234 )
  • automatically generated two weeks before first day of term
  • hourly student enrollment updates
  • student access and participation
  • needs to be Published
    (by instructor, How?)
  • assigned specific SIS ID
  • cannot be deleted


Method A:  Import From A Development Course

Faculty can create a temporary course to prepare and develop content for a future term.  Content from a previous course can be imported into the development course, and any changes can be made (syllabus, date adjustments, etc.).  

Think of it as a private course development “staging area.”  No students will be enrolled in the development course.

Use this option if you plan to make many changes, or just want to get an early start.

Prepare for a new semester

  1. Create a development course
    See: Make A New “Sandbox” Course
    You may name the development course whatever you like.  It is a temporary course, and can be deleted (or not) after the process of moving to a new semester in complete.  

  2. Import content from a previous Official course into the development course
    See: How do I import content from another Canvas course?
    The purpose of the development course is to provide a temporary place to work on a copy of the course content without altering the state of a past course (it is important that previous courses be intact for posterity and record keeping purposes).  

  3. Import content from the development course to a new official course
    Finally, import the updated content from the sandbox course into the official course, so it can be available to students when the course begins.  
    Official district courses are created two weeks prior to the first day of each term.

  4. Delete the development course   (OPTIONAL)
    Once the content has been imported into a new official course, the development course can be deleted if no longer needed.
    See: How To Delete A Course

Method B: Import From A Previous Course

Any time during the two weeks before the first day of the semester, faculty may import content from a previous Official course directly into a new official course (without the use of a temporary development course).

Faculty have TWO WEEKS before the beginning of each term to import previous content, make changes, and prepare for the new semester.

Copy content from an old course to a new course

See the Canvas Guide:

How do I import content from another Canvas course?


  • A single development course can be imported into multiple official courses.  This minimizes the amount of work required to make changes, and ensures consistency in all multiple sections.
  • Use a single development course as a template.  Make minor modifications in the template, then import changes into the official course(s) throughout the semester, as needed.

6 thoughts on “New Semester – Import Course Content”

    • Yes! A course import only copies content from the source class, and does not remove it. Remember, it is an “import” process, which means you are pulling content “into” the new course.


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