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Office of Teaching Evaluation and Assessment Research

Copying a Sakai Course Site to Canvas

TLT Service

The office of Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) provides assistance in migrating a course site to Canvas. TLT can migrate courses from Blackboard, Moodle, Sakai, or eCollege.

Do-it-yourself Method

If you have a Sakai course and prefer to move or migrate it to Canvas on your own, use the following procedure. Keep in mind that this is not perfect, Sakai and Canvas do not have exactly the same features, and you will need to make several revisions once everything is copied over to Canvas. Pay particular attention to the “Problems” noted below.

The transfer of material may be less than satisfactory. For a complex or very interactive course site, you may be better served by skipping it and starting from scratch in Canvas to better leverage the Canvas tools. For instance, despite the extra work you may greatly prefer to copy and paste your content from Sakai into the Canvas “Pages” area. At most, the automated transfer of material from Sakai to Canvas is just a time-saver to get you started.

If you would like assistance with this process or general advice on using Canvas for teaching your course you can contact the TLT Instructional Design team at please replace brokenmail with, or for technical assistance contact please replace brokenmail with

There are three methods you may use:

To copy an entire Sakai site to Canvas

This will copy Resources, Assignments, Discussion topics, Quiz questions, Lessons pages, etc.

Part I - Export your course from Sakai

  1. If your course does not have a “Lessons” tool, start by adding “Lessons” to your site (go to “Site Info” --> “Add Tools” and check “Lessons” then click “Continue” ).
  2. Go to the “Lessons” tool in your Sakai site (note that you may have renamed the “Lessons” tool to something else, that won't matter as long as you can find it).
  3. Click “More Tools”.
  4. Choose “Export CC”.
  5. Select the “Use newest version (1.3) Better for Canvas” option.
  6. Optionally choose to add your question pools (this will include all the questions that you have added to “Pools” from all your courses)
  7. Wait. The process may take some time, especially for large course sites.
  8. Look in your “Downloads” folder on your own computer, you should see a file named something like “Sakai-export.imscc”

Part II - Import your course into Canvas

  1. In Canvas, go to your course and click “Settings”
  2. Click “Import Content into this course” (in the right-hand column of options)
  3. For “Content Type”, choose “Common Cartridge 1.x Package”
  4. Choose the file that you exported from the Sakai lessons tool, it should have a name similar to “Sakai-export.imscc”
  5. Click “Select Question Bank” and either create a new question bank, or choose an existing one (this is where Canvas will store quiz questions from Sakai “Pools”)
  6. Click either “All Content” or “Select specific content” depending on whether you want to import everything, or pick and choose.
  7. You may click the option to “Adjust Events and due dates” if you like. This attempts to automatically shift dates, but it may not work satisfactorily.
  8. Click “Import”
  9. Wait. This may take a long time depending on the size of your course and how many files.
  10. Under “Current Jobs” canvas will either indicate “Completed” or “Waiting for Select” (depending on whether you chose to import all content, or select specific content).
    1. If you see “Waiting for Select” click “Select Content”, then place check marks next to the items you want to import.
    2. If you see “Completed” Canvas may also show an “Issues” link. You can click “Issues” to see what problems Canvas ran into.
  11. Once Canvas indicates the “Common Cartridge” job is “Completed” you can now go to the individual areas of Canvas to make final adjustments and changes.
  12. Be sure to review the list of potential problems and things to check, below. You may want to continue with the instructions in the next section to make sure you include all your Resources.

To copy only Sakai Resources to Canvas Files

Use this method if you only want to copy the files in the “Resources” section of Sakai into Canvas, and skip everything else (however some resources - specifically web links and citation lists - will not transfer since these are not real files). You can also do this as a final step in the above process - the “entire site” method above may miss some resources, and doing this will guarantee that all your resource files come across.

Part I - Export Resources from Sakai

  1. Go to the “Resources” tool in your Sakai site.
  2. The top item in the list of resources will have the name of your site. Click the “Actions” menu to the right of that top item.
  3. Select “Compress to Zip Archive”
  4. Wait. This may take a while depending on how many resources you have and how large they are.
  5. Eventually you will see a new resource with a long name that is a random series of letters and numbers (it's actually your Sakai SiteID)
  6. Click directly on the the name of the new file.
  7. Check the “Downloads” folder on your own computer, you should now have a copy of the file.

Part II - Import the files in Canvas

  1. Click “Files” in Canvas
  2. Click “Upload” (in the upper-right corner)
  3. Choose the “zip” file that you downloaded from Sakai Resources (it should have a long name of random numbers and letters).
  4. Choose to “Expand it” when Canvas asks what to do.
  5. Wait. This may take a while, depending on the number and size of the files.
  6. When done, you'll see all your files in Canvas, minus any web links.

Problems and things to check

For more assistance, please contact the Canvas help desk or ctaar.


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