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Moving a D2L course to Canvas

Use Migration Complexity Tool to move a single course from D2L to Canvas as efficiently as possible


You can migrate any D2L to Canvas either by exporting the entire course or selecting contents. If you used submodules in your D2L course, you should first drag and drop the submodules in the Table of Contents to rearrange them as modules. This step will save you time in realigning your course after you import it to Canvas (since there are no submodules in Canvas).

If you would like to see a report on which aspects of your course will more effectively migrate to Canvas (that is, require less adjustment after the migration), check out the UW-System Migration Complexity Tool at [Use NetID and Password]. 

The Complexity Tool will provide a report on your D2L courses from Winterim 2016 to Summer 2018. You will be able to see a complexity score for the overall course:  High, Medium or Low. The complexity score is a composite score that accounts for course size, degree of customization, grading system and number/type of grade items, and complexity of quizzes and quiz questions. It provides an estimate of the complexity involved in the migration process. High complexity courses will require a higher degree of review and revision after the course is migrated to Canvas. The alerts in the Complexity Tool can help identify areas of concern to be aware of as you export from D2L and import your course to a blank Canvas Master course. This information can help you determine if you would be better off migrating selected content to Canvas rather than exporting the entire course.


The D2L export process is the same process you may have used to export a course from a previous semester to the current semester. See Export and Import in Desire2Learn. You can choose to export all of the contents or selected components.

Select course material window

Remember to download the Backup Zip file before clicking Done. You will need to remember where you save the D2L download so that you can find it to import into Canvas.
Export Summary page


  1. Access the Canvas login portal (from the Shortcuts menu on the UW-Platteville homepage)
  2. Login with your NetID and password
  3. Choose one of your blank courses for the course import by clicking on the tile
Canvas Dashboard with blank courses

  1. In the course page navigation bar, select Settings
Settings on course page

  1. From the right side menu, choose Import Course content
  2. On the Import Content window, select D2L export .zip format
Import Course Content
  1. Browse to the saved D2L backup from the previous download
  2. Select all content (or specific items if you are not importing the whole course)
  3. (Optional) Adjust events and due dates to match the upcoming course calendar
  4. Click Import [the download will begin and a progress bar will be displayed in Current Jobs]

Import content details

When the download completes, click on Hide Issues to see what may not have downloaded accurately. This information will help you as you review your course and revise and rebuild it for the upcoming term. 

If there is an error with the Canvas import, we have identified a few work arounds you might want to try before you contact Canvas support. 
  1. If your D2L course contained video file, you may need to export your D2L course again without the video files. You will then need to transfer your videos to your My Media account in Canvas and embed them in the content again.
  2. If you had several quizzes and question libraries in Canvas, you may need to import these selectively in Canvas.
  3. If you do not have videos or quiz questions, a suggestion that has worked -- unzip your D2L backup file, add any single file to it and re-zip it. Now try to import the adjusted file to Canvas. 
  4. If you are still unable to successfully import your D2L file to Canvas, submit the Request Form - Troubleshooting D2L to Canvas Migration Issue and the UW-Platteville Canvas admin will help you solve the issue.

Keywords:D2L Canvas Migration Complexity Tool   Doc ID:81025
Owner:Regina N.Group:UW Platteville
Created:2018-03-20 09:50 CDTUpdated:2020-04-01 09:19 CDT
Sites:UW Platteville
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