How do I import past Moodle content into a new Moodle course?

Importing Course Content Overview

One of the advantages of using a Learning Management System (LMS) like Moodle is that it makes it easy to copy past content from one semester to the next, allowing you to modify the content for the current semester.

Oftentimes, you'll want to copy the entire course over from a previous semester and then remove parts of the course that no longer apply.  You may also want to borrow specific course content from one or more courses rather than an entire course. This article will provide instructions for both operations.

Importing an Entire Course

The following section will walk you through the basic process to import an entire course into your new course.

  1. Go to the current (“destination”) course in Moodle into which you want to copy the past content;
  2. Click on the “Import” link in the Course administration section;
  3. Search for (or select) the “source” course that has the content (from the full set of courses for which you have instructor privileges);
  4. Choose the activities and resources that you want to copy to your destination course; and
  5. Click on the Continue button multiple times until the content actually appears in the new course

Below, we explain that process in more detail, providing screen captures of what you will see at each step of the course copy process.

  1. Go to our Moodle server at and log in. Once you have logged in to Moodle, we recommend that you search for the “source” course that has the existing content that you want to copy to a new semester, so you will know for sure the Course short name and the semester the course was taught. You’ll most likely find that source course in your dashboard by sorting for courses In progress or by searching the name of the course.

  2. Within your “source” course, click on the “Settings” link in the Course administration area of that “source” course, and look at the “Course short name” in the General section. You will need that short name later in the process, when you tell Moodle what course has the content you need. As you can see from the figure just below, the Course short name is also part of the Course full name, and you can highlight and copy that information:

  3. Return to the main Moodle page by clicking on the Home icon at the top-left of the page:

  4. Click on the link for the “destination” course to which you want to copy the new content. Depending on when you begin copying materials, you’ll most likely find the link to your destination course in the “Current Course List” module in either the “Current Courses” or “Future Courses” category.
  5. To start the import process, click on the “Import” link in the “Course administration” block:

  6. On the Find a course to import data from page, you may or may not see the “source course” that has the materials. If you see that course listed, click on the round button next to that “source course.” If the “source course” doesn’t appear in the list, you can search for it instead by typing or pasting the “Course short name” into the search window and clicking on the Search button:

  7. When you have clicked in the radio button to the left of the course name to select the “source course” that contains the content, click on the Continue button:
  8. You will see a “Initial settings” page. In general, you’ll want to include all activities, blocks, filters, and question bank content, so just click on the Next button.
  9. By default, all the activities and resources from the source course will be selected. Most likely, you’ll want to copy over all the content from the earlier course, but not the announcements. You can adjust which documents are moved over by checking/unchecking the boxes next to each document’s name. To unselect an entire topic area, unselect the box next to the bold Topic name:

  10. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on the Next button at the bottom-right to continue with the import process.
  11. Scroll down to the bottom of the page once again, and click on the Perform Import button, also at the bottom right. At this point, Moodle will actually begin the process of exporting the materials from the old course and importing them into your new course. You will see a progress bar move to the right across the screen as more of the course content is brought into the new course.
  12. Once the progress bar reaches 100%, you should see a message that says “Import complete. Click continue to return to the course.” Click on the Continue button to be taken to your new course, which should now have all of your imported course content

Importing Part of a Course

In the instructions for importing an entire course, you may have noticed that you can choose to only include specific sections during the import process. The directions for how to import only part of a course is the same as importing an entire course - just make sure you only select the parts you want and also be aware of an important caveat:

Moodle gives you the option of choosing which parts of the past course that you want to import. Please note that when Moodle copies course content from one course (the "source course") to another (the "destination course"), it puts that content in the same numbered topic block as it was in the source course. In other words, if you have a block called "Readings" that is the first block below the "Announcements" block at the top of your source course, Moodle will import that block into the same block in the "destination course." If there is already content in that first block (in the destination course), Moodle will add the past content to it, merging that content with the existing materials in that topic block.

To avoid this problem, it is usually best to make sure that there are blank topic areas in the "destination course" in the same location as the blocks in the "source course" that you want to copy over. Another easy way to resolve this problem is to import the past content before you add new content to your course.

Can't find your course?

If you can not find the course you would like to import content from, it may have been archived on the Moodle Archive Server. Once you find the past course on the Archive Server*, you can restore it onto the main Moodle server by following these instructions. *Please note that you need to be on-campus or you need to establish a VPN connection to the Bucknell network to access the Moodle Archive Server.

If your course was taught before Summer 2015 or if you have any questions about these instructions, please contact DP&S.

Need more help?

If you are having trouble or need additional assistance with importing course content, please reach out to Digital Pedagogy & Scholarship for assistance.

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Article ID: 449
Sat 7/11/20 1:53 PM
Tue 8/29/23 10:56 AM