Moodle to Canvas conversion issues


UW-Madison has adopted Canvas as its single, centrally supported learning management system. As of 6/1/2018, support for Desire2Learn (D2L) and most Moodle courses has been discontinued. Access to those courses has permanently ended. However, certain Moodle courses that are part of the Adanced Quizzing Content Functional Gaps project are still available on Moodle. Those courses are located on the Moodle Extension site.

This document lists known some known issues when converting UW Moodle courses to Canvas and offers some basic workarounds, when available. This article is designed to be be used alongside the Canvas Migration Report.

Moodle Quiz Issues

Moodle quizzes can be configured to allow students to make multiple attempts on a single question, with each incorrect attempt possibly incurring a penalty.  This type of configuration is often used in low-stakes homework and quizzes to keep students working until they understand a question.  Canvas does not support this quiz behavior.

Workaround: None.  Canvas does not support multiple attempts on a single question while taking a quiz.  It is possible to have students make multiple attempts to a quiz as a whole.

Moodle quizzes can be configured to use certainty-based marking.  In this scheme, students are asked about the certainty of their response and the question grade takes this into account.

Workaround: None.  Certainty-based marking is not supported by Canvas.

A converted quiz may have a different question ordering in Canvas than in Moodle.  Usually this occurs when the quiz contains randomized questions, which will all get lumped together on the end of a canvas quiz.

Workaround: Manually reorder quiz questions after import.

Moodle Feedback Manager

Canvas does not have a direct analogue to Moodle's Feedback Manager, however the Canvas SpeedGrader may be an acceptable replacement in some cases.  SpeedGrader is a way to quickly grade student submissions.  When paired with rubrics, SpeedGrader also allows some ability to save and reuse feedback comments.

SpeedGrader allows the following:
  • Grading student submissions one after another.
  • Assignment of rubric-based comments, including using saved comments, on a quiz attempt as a whole.  These comments are visible from the grade book, but not during a review of the quiz assignment.  They are also not emailed to students.
SpeedGrader does not allow the following:
  • Grading a single question across all students on one page.
  • Per-question saved comments and tagging.
  • Emailing feedback to students.
  • Bulk selection and assignment of question comments and grades.
For more information on SpeedGrader and rubrics, see:

Moodle Question Type Issues

Gapselect question   (Resolved)

Gapselect questions are an embedded answer question type where students see dropdown menus within the question text.  These are similar to Moodle Embedded Answer (Cloze) questions but are simpler to author.

Status: These are now automatically converted to Canvas multiple dropdown questions.

The Calculated Format question type was developed locally at UW-Madison for use in certain STEM classes.  There is no equivalent question type in canvas.

Workaround:  Reformulate as a different type of question.

Pattern match questions allow an instructor to grade student free responses by comparing with known patterns.  There is no equivalent in canvas.

Workaround: None in general, but other question types may achieve the same goal.

This question type allows students to drag text and/or images onto predefined drop zones on a background image.  There is no analogue in canvas.

Workaround: Reformulate as a different type of question.

This question type allows students to drop markers onto an area on a background image.  There is no analogue in canvas.

Workaround: Reformulate as a different type of question.

This is a drag and drop question type where missing words can be dragged into gaps in a paragraph of text.  There is no direct analogue in Canvas, but multiple dropdown questions may achieve a similar result.

Workaround: Convert to a multiple dropdown question or other question type.

Moodle allows file submissions for essay questions in quizzes, and some classes make heavy use of this functionality.  Canvas essay questions do not allow file submissions, so the converted question will not work in the same way.

Workaround: A partial workaround is to switch to the file submission question type.

Moodle essay questions can include a template which is inserted in the essay response area when a student makes an attempt.  For example, the template may be a table for the student to fill out.  

Status: Canvas does not have this functionality natively, but our latest conversion code will include the answer template in the question text, along with a message that students should copy and paste the template into the answer box.  We believe that this is the best solution given the constraints in Canvas.

Embedded answer (Cloze) questions consist of a passage of text that has various answers embedded within it, including multiple choice, short answers and numerical answers.  Canvas supports only questions which have all answers of the same type -- either all dropdowns or all fill-in-the-blank answers.

Status: We now automatically convert cloze questions consisting entirely of fill-in-the-blank items or entirely of short-answer items.  Other types of cloze questions are not supported by Canvas and will be logged as "Advanced" Cloze questions, referenced in the next item.

These are embedded answer questions which will not translate for known reasons.  This includes:

  • Multianswer questions including numerical parts.
  • Multianswer questions which contain a mixture of different types of answers (dropdown, fill-in-the-blank, and numerical).

Workaround: Manually fix the converted question.

Canvas does support calculated questions, however the Canvas implementation is much more limited in functionality than in Moodle.  For example, there are no shared datasets, and the question text cannot contain quantities calculated using {=...} syntax.  Canvas also supports a more limited expression syntax for answers.  In many cases we've tried, Moodle calculated questions do not work properly after conversion to canvas, and so we recommend all calculated questions be carefully reviewed after migration to Canvas.

Workaround: Review the converted question and possibly reformulate using a different question type.

These are advanced calculated questions which we anticipate will not translate well to Canvas.  Reasons include:

  • Calculated multianswer questions
  • Calculated questions with formulas in the question text.
  • Calculated questions where the answer is a dataset variable, rather than a formula.

Workaround: Review the converted question and possibly reformulate using a different question type.

Calculated questions in Moodle can use a shared and synchronized dataset so that each question in a student's quiz attempt will share the same choice of variables.  This behavior is specific to Moodle and not supported by Canvas.

Workaround: None.

PoodLL questions allow student submission of audio, video, and whiteboard answers.  Canvas has no support for these types of question responses and we have also found no practical way to support these using Kalura.

Workaround:  None.

STACK is an advanced question type used in some STEM classes.  There is no analogue in Canvas.

Workaround: Convert the question to a different question type.

This is a calculated numeric question type with variable and expression evaluation. Random values are generated for each student attempting the quiz.

Workaround: Convert to a canvas calculated question.

This is a calculated numeric question type with variable and expression evaluation. All values are pre-calculated although a question can have several variants with different variable values for each variant.

Workaround: Convert to a canvas calculated question.

Drawing question type

This is an older question type which is not currently supported on UW Moodle.  PoodLL whiteboard questions are similar in behavior.

Essay with template question type

This is an older question type which is not currently supported on UW Moodle.

Order question type

This question type is not currently installed on UW Moodle but may be present in some course question banks.

Moodle Activity Issues

The lesson module presents a series of HTML pages to the student who is then asked to make some sort of choice underneath the content area. The choice will send them to the next page in the lesson.  Lessons are often used for online presentation of new material.

Moodle lessons are converted to a series of wiki pages in Canvas.  This conversion preserves the lesson content, however the navigation and student view are more limited.

Workaround: Review and make organizational changes to the converted lesson.

There is no analogue to general Moodle lessons in Canvas, although wikis and Canvas pages may be an alternative way to present the same content.  For more complex lessons, which rely on branching based on question answers, the only known solution is to move the lesson to a SCORM package using an authoring tool.

Workaround: Manually convert to a canvas page, wiki, or a SCORM package.

Workshop is a peer assessment activity with many options. Students submit their work via an on-line text tool and by submitting attachments. There are two grades for a student: their own work and their peer assessments of other students' work.  There is no analogue to a workshop in Canvas.

Workaround: Consider converting to a peer review assignment.

The chat activity module allows participants to have a real-time synchronous discussion in a Moodle course and is sometimes used for office hours.

Workaround:  Add a Chat external tool to the canvas course.

Moodle allows direct linking from Mediasite to Moodle in the form of a Moodle activity.

Status: These are now converted to a direct URL link to the Mediasite content. 

Moodle allows embedding of Kaltura content as a Moodle activity. Canvas support Kaltura, however these activities are not automatically migrated to Canvas.

Status: These are now converted to a direct URL link to the Kaltura content. 

This activity allows viewing of a video and document file as a synchronized presentation. There is no direct analogue to this in Canvas, although similar presentations can be created directly in Mediaspace and added to Canvas.

Workaround: Create a video presentation through Kaltura Mediaspace and add to Canvas.

The conversion process will automatically convert Case Scenario Builder activities to static content in Canvas.  This conversion preserves student access to the activity, however there is no ability to capture grades or log data.

Workaround:  The activity will function for students, but there is no way to pass logs and grade data back to Canvas.

SCORM content modules in Moodle do not automatically migrate to Canvas, although they can be migrated manually.

Workaround: Enable SCORM in the Canvas course settings and then add each module manually to the Canvas course.

Moodle has a feature that allows an instructor to add an entire HTML website as a single page resource in moodle.   These migrate properly to canvas.

Workaround: None needed.

This provides an alternate implementation of student wiki functionality in Moodle.

Workaround: Convert to a canvas wiki, although some functionality will be lost.

This provides a student blog in Moodle.  There is no analogue in Canvas.

Workaround: None known.

Active quizzes is a UW-developed plugin which allows synchronized in-class quizzes.  There is no analogue in Canvas, but external tools provide similar functionality.

Workaround: Convert the active quiz to an external quizzing/polling tool such as Top Hat or i>Clicker

The Book module allows multi-page resources with a book-like format.  Moodle Books automatically convert to Canvas wikis, however there is no index in the converted wiki.

Workaround:  Add an index page if needed.

Moodle wikis convert automatically to Canvas wikis, however the wiki links may require updating.

Workaround: Review the converted wiki and update links as needed.

The moodle attendance activity is not automatically converted.

Workaround: Convert to the Roll Call attendance tool.

This module allows for the dynamic generation of certificates based on predefined conditions set by the teacher.  There is currently no analogue in canvas.

Workaround:  None currently.

In Moodle a checklist can be created by a teacher (or generated from the activities in a course) and then the students or teachers can check-off each item as they are completed.

Workaround: There is no single workaround.  One workaround is to use Canvas Modules which are setup with requirement activities that can be 'marked done'.

Blackboard Collaborate activities are not automatically migrated to Canvas.

Workaround: Add the Collaborate activity directly in Canvas.

The database activity module allows the teacher and/or students to build, display and search a bank of entries about any conceivable topic.

Workaround:  None known.

This is a Blackboard Collaborate activity which uses the older java-based interface and will not migrate automatically to Canvas.

Workaround: Add the collaborate activity directly in Canvas.

IMS content packages do not automatically convert to Canvas, but may be supported by Canvas when added directly.

Workaround:  Add the content package directly in Canvas.

Questionnaires do not automatically convert to Canvas.  Canvas does support graded/ungraded survey quiz types which can use normal Canvas question types, as well as Likert scale questions.

Workaround:  Manually convert to a standard Canvas quiz or to an external survey tool.

Surveys do not automatically convert to Canvas.  Canvas does support graded/ungraded survey quiz types which can use normal Canvas question types, as well as Likert scale questions.

Workaround:  Manually convert to a standard Canvas quiz or to an external survey tool.

This is a moodle assignment activity in which students are asked to submit video content through Kaltura.  These are not converted automatically to Canvas.

Workaround: Convert to a Canvas assignment and instruct students to embed kaltura video through the WYSIWYG editor.

Miscellaneous Issues

Latex conversion issue (Resolved)

Some TeX expressions do not convert properly from Moodle to Canvas.  

Status: All known issues with TeX expressions are fixed during conversion.

MathML conversion issue (Resolved)

MathML content in moodle does not work in Canvas.   Most of this content will be Math expressions that have been pasted from Word or created inside Moodle using the WYSIWYG Math editor.

Status: All MathML will be converted to equivalent TeX expressions during migration.

Conditional availability

Advanced availability criterion in moodle does not convert automatically to Canvas.  This may include availability based on:

    • Completion of another activity
    • Group membership
    • Date and time restrictions
These types of availability criterion are not automatically carried over to canvas.

Workaround: Manually convert using canvas availability controls or mastery paths.

Hidden block element (Resolved)

Hidden blocks are blocks of text which initially show up as hidden in Moodle, along with a button to reveal the text.  Often these are used in self-study type content in Moodle, where students are asked to think about a question and then click on a button to show the answer.  These blocks can appear in many different activity types and resources in Moodle. 

Hidden blocks will now convert properly to canvas, although editing them will require directly editing HTML source in Canvas.

Workaround: .  None needed.

TeX delimiter conversion issue (Resolved)

Issues with TeX delimiters are handled properly in the latest converter.

Workaround: None needed.

Embedded moodle video

Some classes rely on videos hosted directly by Moodle.  These videos may convert properly to Canvas, depending on the video size, but they are not the recommended way to host videos. The Canvas course quota is significantly smaller than what we offered in UW Moodle, so moving videos to Kaltura will often be necessary.

Workaround:  Migrate videos to Kaltura.

Moodle course too large

This message indicates that the total size of the Moodle course exceedes the standard Canvas quota of 1GB.   (See Canvas - File Storage and Quotas in Canvas (UW-Madison).)  As a result, any conversion to Canvas will likely fail.

Workaround:  Reduce course size and move large files to Kaltura or Box.

Keywords:canvas moodle conversion migration   Doc ID:70149
Owner:Matt P.Group:Moodle
Created:2017-01-23 22:59 CSTUpdated:2018-02-16 10:09 CST
Feedback:  1   0