We're on the way: Moving from Moodle to Canvas

Canvas Transition


WOU began the transition to Canvas during the 2020-2021 academic year. We are on schedule to complete our transition at the end of Spring term.

This means that, beginning this Summer term, no more courses will be taught in Moodle and no new Moodle shells will be generated.

As of Summer ’21, all course shells will be created in Canvas and instructors that would like to use a learning management system for their course must use Canvas.

Transition Information

Moodle Phase-Out

Canvas Resources & Training

Transition Information

WOU began the transition to Canvas during the 2020-2021 academic year. We are on schedule to complete our transition at the end of Spring term.

This means that, beginning this Summer term, no more courses will be taught in Moodle and no new Moodle shells will be generated.

As of Summer ’21, all course shells will be created in Canvas and instructors that would like to use a learning management system for their course must use Canvas.

What is an LMS?

Learning Management Systems are used to teach online courses and offer additional activities, resources, and support for face-to-face courses. Learning management systems make it easier for faculty to share resources with students and students can complete assignments, takes quizzes, and engage with course content on the platform. Canvas can also be used to host trainings and create organizational resource pages.


Why is WOU switching from Moodle to Canvas?

Canvas is WOU’s new learning management system. Moodle is the learning platform WOU has used historically. It’s a self-hosted, open-source solution and was initially used because only a small number of courses were using a learning management system of any kind. Over time, the use of a learning management system to teach online courses or provide additional material and support in face-to-face courses increased at WOU, prompting a review to identify a long-term solution.

In Spring ’20, WOU’s LMS Review Team concluded its work and made a recommendation to the University Technology Advisory Board (UTAC) that WOU pilot Canvas. Reasons cited were strong accessibility, better technical support options, easier integrations with other learning technology, and a more student-centered and intuitive user interface. UTAC approved this recommendation.

WOU’s Canvas pilot actively began in Summer ’20 and was promising. Based on this strong start, WOU opened up Canvas for Fall ’20 and about half of the courses at WOU used Canvas this past fall. Academic Innovation surveyed faculty members using both LMSes and the results strongly favored Canvas. As of January 1, WOU entered a long-term agreement with Canvas.

What are some ways to get started in Canvas?

Growing with Canvas

If you’d like to learn Canvas’ basics, we recommend enrolling in Growing with Canvas, a self-paced tutorial developed by Canvas’ Learning Services team. The self-paced, self-guided course offers guides and resources, along with the opportunity to try out a number of the concepts through the practice assessments.

When you enroll in Growing with Canvas, you’ll receive a sandbox course. A sandbox course is an empty course shell you can use to experiment with different features and test out ideas. To enroll and receive a sandbox, all you need to do is fill out our Sandbox request form.

Import a Course from Moodle

If you’ve used Moodle previously, you can import your course into Canvas. Importing a backup of a Moodle course is great way to ensure all the resources and content from the course make it into our new LMS. Learn more about how to import a course from Moodle into Canvas!

Attend a Canvas Training

In addition to the self-paced option, Growing With Canvas, Academic Innovation regularly facilitates synchronous, instructor-led trainings on Canvas and its different features. Find out more about upcoming workshops!


Moodle Phase-Out Information

When will Moodle no longer be an option for teaching courses?

Spring ’21 is the last term in which Moodle will be an option. Instructors will no longer be able to teach in Moodle beginning Summer ’21.

Please note that although you will not be able to teach in Moodle as of Summer ’21, you will still be able to access the content stored in Moodle and retrieve materials from previous courses.

How long will I be able to access content in Moodle?

Moodle will become the Moodle Archives. Faculty will still be able to access content stored in the Moodle Archives, including downloading backups of previous courses. All content will be available through June 30, 2022, at which point some of the oldest content will be retired. We will continue gradually retiring content until January 1, 2024.

Starting August 1, users will need to either be on-campus or connected through WOU Virtual Desktop or WOU VPN. This change allows UCS to address security-related concerns associated with running the Moodle servers over time. Learn more about WOU VDI/VPN.

Below is the timeline by which Moodle will convert to the Moodle Archives and by which the Archives will be slowly retired:

June 21, 2021: All active instruction moves to Canvas. No new course shells will be generated in Moodle. All Summer 21 course shells will be generated in Canvas. Moodle will become the Moodle Archives.

August 1, 2021: Access to the Moodle Archives will switch to on-campus or VDI/VPN access only.

June 30, 2022: The Moodle Archives for academic years 16-17 and 17-18 will be retired and no longer accessible.

June 30, 2023: The Moodle Archives for academic years 18-19 and 19-20 will be retired and no longer accessible.

January 1, 2024: The Moodle Archive for academic year 20-21 will be retired and no longer accessible. As of this date, all content from the Moodle Archives will be retired and the landing page for the Moodle Archives removed. UCS will no longer host Moodle or Moodle Archives on any WOU server or allocate resources to Moodle-related storage.

Note: Development shells and shells associated with an organization or club are organized within the Moodle Archives based on the academic year during which they were created, not the last time they were edited. Please err on the side of caution and back up your development shells or organizational shells prior to June 30, 2022 if you are not sure the date on which the shell was created.

How do I transfer content from Moodle to Canvas?

Self-Paced Conversion

Identify or Create a Shell in Canvas

Before you can import your content, you’ll need to somewhere to put it. You may be planning to import your content into an existing Canvas shell, like the ones that are automatically generated for each course every term. If you don’t have an existing Canva shell, you can create a development shell.

Once you’ve identified the shell into which you will transfer content, you’re ready to backup your Moodle course and import it into Canvas.

Export the Moodle Course and Upload into Canvas

Academic Innovation has created step-by-step instructions for converting a course from Moodle to Canvas. These instructions will guide you through the process of backing up a Moodle course and then uploading it into your Canvas shell. If you run into any challenges during the process, reach out to askAI@wou.edu and we’ll be happy to assist.

Instructions: Backup Your Moodle Course

Instructions: Import Your Course Into Canvas

Guided Conversion

Alternatively, if you’d like to receive a demonstration on this process from a staff member, please register for one of our Guided Conversion sessions. These hands-on sessions walk participants through the process of downloading a course from Moodle and uploading it into Canvas. After participants have transferred their own course, staff are available to troubleshoot any difficulties or challenges that arose during the process. When significant errors or challenges occur, a 1:1 support appointment is scheduled.

Learn more about Guided Conversions.


Canvas Resources

Live Technical Support

Canvas offers support to all students, faculty, and staff! This support is available 24/7 and 365 days a year.

Support is available by phone, live chat, or email.

  • Phone: 866-901-5128
  • Live-chat: You must be logged in to Canvas to access live chat. Select the “help icon” from the left-side menu and choose the option “Chat with Canvas support”.
  • Email: You must be logged into Canvas to acess live chat. Select the “help” icon from the left-side menu and choose the option “Report a problem”.

Because Canvas Support is available 24/7/365, it’s the best way to access prompt support should you encounter any challenges using Canvas. You may also reach out to Academic Innovation staff at askAI@wou.edu if you have additional questions or Canvas support is not able to assist you.

Guides & Self-Paced Resources

Canvas Resources

Canvas has a rich library of guides, videos, and other resources that will walk you through its different processes and features. Each guide has a detailed table of contents to help you find the content you need quickly. These guides provide detailed instructions  and are maintained by Instructure, Canvas’ vendor, meaning they are always the most up-to-date resources.

Canvas Resources for Instructors

Canvas Resources for Students

Canvas Guides for Troubleshooting Common Challenges

Growing with Canvas

In addition to robust resources and instructions, Canvas also offers Growing with Canvas, a self-paced course that will introduce you to Canvas and its major features. You can enroll in Growing with Canvas using Academic Innovation’s Sandbox request form. This form will also give you a sandbox (i.e. an empty course shell) so you can start exploring and applying your learning.

Canvas Training

Academic Innovation regular facilitates training on Canvas and its features! Below you will find our current offerings with a link that will allow you to see upcoming dates and register. You can also find out what’s available for programming on CAI’s programs & workshop page.

Canvas Fundamentals

Canvas Fundamentals is a facilitated, synchronous training that covers the basics of Canvas’ structure, navigation, and key features. The session is approximately 3 hours. Register for Canvas Fundamentals

Getting to Know Gradebook

Getting to Know Gradebooks is a facilitated, synchronous training that introduces you to key features of Canvas’ gradebook, as well as ways it might differ from what you’re used to in Moodle. Register for Getting to Know Gradebook

Making the Most of Modules

Making the Most of Modules is a facilitated, synchronous training that explores how Canvas uses modules to create structure in courses, as well as fundamentals of module organization, content, and settings. Register for Making the Most of Modules

Expand Your Options: External Tools & Canvas Commons

Expand Your Options is a facilitated, synchronous training that will show you how to add an external tool or app to Canvas and introduce you to Canvas Commons, an open repository of learning objects and content created by other Canvas users. Register for Expand Your Options


Course Shells & Development Shells

Development Shells

A development shell is an empty course shell that is not tied to a CRN in Banner. Development shells are a great place to store your exported Moodle content and you can easily transfer the content into a course shell in the future. In fact, Academic Innovation generally recommends using development shells to design and build your courses. Some of the benefits of using a development shell include:

  • Organization: Using a development shell will make it easier to find materials each term, rather than sorting between live shells from different terms
  • Collaboration: When you create a development shell, you’re added into your course as a manager. This allows you to add other faculty members so you can work together and share resources.
  • Back-up: Using a development shell means you have a back-up of your course, in case you unintentionally delete something from your live course or an error occurs in your course
  • Choose your content: You can transfer an entire course or just certain components from your development shell into your live course. Here are instructions for duplicating your Canvas course.

Academic Innovation has developed a Google form that will allow you to generate development shells. This form generates shells approximately every 15 minutes. Please know that although the form asks you for a course title and number, you may enter whatever you like in these fields and the form will still generate your shell.

Create a Canvas development shell

Course Shells

When are shells generated each term?

Course shells are automatically generated for each term. This happens approximately 4-6 weeks before the start of the term.

How is enrollment managed for course shells?

Course shells are linked to Banner. When students register or withdraw from a course, Canvas syncs with Banner adjusts your course roster accordingly.  Canvas is set to sync regularly with Banner but some syncs take longer, depending on the size of the update. There may be a delay of 30-60 minutes before the change takes effect.

Can course shells from previous terms be accessed and edited?

When the term ends, Banner-linked course shells are concluded. You will still be able to view them under “previous courses” (accessed by selecting “Courses” on the left-side menu in Canvas and selecting “all courses” at the bottom).

You will be able to view your previous courses, including all student submissions and grades. You will also be able to import the course’s content into a new Canvas shell.

However, you will not be able to alter the course shell once the term has concluded. Canvas considers concluded courses academic records and restricts the extent to which they can be altered to help institution comply with records retention requirements.. This means you will no longer be able to edit the course, including its assignments, and Academic Innovation staff will not be able to add new users to your course. This limitation is built into Canvas and is not an optional setting. As a result, Academic Innovation is not able to override Canvas’ restrictions on editing concluded courses.

How can students with Incompletes access courses once the term has concluded?

Academic Innovation is able to extend access for students who have Incomplete grade agreements. To do so, we create a “section” in the course that has a new end date. This end date reflects the date agreed upon by the student and instructor as part of the Incomplete grade agreement. We then enroll the student and instructor in this section. Course sections are able to have unique end dates so this approach means the course will not be “concluded” for the student with the Incomplete but will be concluded for all other students.

To request Academic Innovation extend course access for an incomplete, please fill out the Incompletes: Extend Course Access form.