Canvas/Open edX migrations

Redirected thread from edXchange: Moving from edX to Canvas (see About the Collaborative Proposals category)

As they are two of the major open source LMS, a lot of people seem to migrate between Canvas and Open edX, we often get inquiries about it. Does anyone know about automated ways to migrate courses, for example?

There was one such request on edXchange recently, so we are doing a discovery to answer it - and we’ll post the results here. CC @gabrieldamours

Sure thing @antoviaque, I’ll follow-up on this thread.

A quick update regarding the discovery that we’ve been working on:

There doesn’t seem to be an automated way to migrate courses from Open edX to Canvas. Instructure’s hosted offering includes some “Migration tools for commercial LMSs” which may or may not include Open edX – we reached out to them to clarify this and are currently waiting to hear back from them.

If there are in fact no migration tools for Open edX and/or Instructure has no plans to release them to the community, we will do another discovery to determine what it would take to build an open source solution for automating course migration from Open edX to Canvas.


Notes on manual course migration

There is no 1:1 mapping between Open edX and Canvas in terms of problem types and functionality for structuring courses. Here is an overview of the most notable differences:

Canvas only offers one mechanism for structuring course content (Modules). Text Headers can be used to visually group course content on the Course Modules page, but they don’t represent a separate hierarchy level in the course structure, and do not show up when navigating between content items belonging to a module:

Major building blocks of courses in Open edX are sections, subsections, units, and components (Discussion, HTML, Problem, and Video components as well as Advanced components).

Major building blocks of courses in Canvas are Modules, Text Headers, Assignments, Quizzes (which consist of one or more questions of different types), Files, Pages, Discussions, External URLs, and External Tools (LTI tools).

  • Canvas Modules only display one component at a time, so students essentially navigate course content at the component level.
  • Canvas Text Headers don’t have a functional equivalent in Open edX.
  • Canvas Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, and Pages map to components in Open edX.

Canvas allows course authors to create course content independently of course structure. The different content types listed above (Assignments, Quizzes, Files, Pages, Discussions, External URLs, and External Tools) may belong to one or more modules but they don’t have to. This is different from the tree structure that Open edX requires for courses.