Spring Cleanup

Spring Cleaning - A guide to cleaning up your courses

As we continue transitioning courses for future terms, one thing that will make it easier is doing a deep spring cleaning of our existing courses. After all, if you were moving house you wouldn't want to move a bunch of dust and broken plates!

Watch our training session recording that goes into the nitty-gritty details of the Spring Cleanup process.

Using this Guide

This schedule breaks down our recommendations for how to tackle cleaning up your courses so they are prepped and ready before you begin moving content.

There is no obligation to follow this timeline. You can come back to this page and work through the steps at any time and pace that works for you.

Click on each week to see how tasks for cleaning up your courses have been broken down step-by-step. Each step comes with guidance in the form of an explanation of why it's important, images, or a video demonstration.

Schedule By Week

Week One

Thinking Ahead

This first step is all about preparatory planning! Things you will want to ask yourself in this stage include:

  • Which courses are my priority for migration? Now that COCC's first term fully on Canvas is underway for Winter 2022 term, you may want to start looking at what you normally teach in the Spring, Summer, or the Fall. Don't forget about any classes that are not taught every year! 
  • What delivery method do I plan to teach in? Will you be using a current course shell and adapting for changes in delivery, or would it make more sense to use an older shell?
  • Do I plan to redesign this course? If you are planning a major overhaul of your course, consider whether it would be beneficial to start from a blank slate. If you're not ready to begin developing in Canvas that's okay too - eLearning can set you up with an empty shell in Blackboard to work in, and help you migrate that when you're ready. Moving a fresh course is preferable to moving one that's packed with old material!

Action Items

With the initial planning done, let's get to work!

  1. Write a list of the courses/CRNS you would like to transfer into the new LMS. The goal is to import only one Bb shell for each distinct course.
  2. Get access to the CRNS you want to move. Are they still available in Blackboard from a previous term, or do you need to contact eLearning to get access to a course archive? Make sure you can physically log in to each course.
  3. Begin your 'first pass' content review. Read through your course! Maybe you taught it recently, or maybe it's been a while. As you read through, keep a list of things you notice that you will want to replace or review. No broken plates!

Weeks Two and Three

Course Files?

Every item you've ever uploaded into your Blackboard course is saved in your course files area. Over time (and over multiple course copies), these files can really stack up! As you've adapted your curriculum, updated material, and perfected your methods, you've also been adding to your files.

You can find your course files in Blackboard by looking under the Course Management menu, expanding Course Content, and clicking on the first sublink - in 99% of cases this will be your course ID, such as: WR121-12345_SP21.

Time to clean them up.

Action Items

  1. Bulk download your documents to your local computer. This saves a copy of every physical item in your course (any documents, images, and otherwise uploadable content) to your computer. If you change your mind about something later on, you'll know you have a safe copy.
  2. Get organized! It will be much easier to see what you have if you've got it sorted in a way that makes sense to you. Try creating folders and sorting items into them by document type, by week, or topic...whatever you prefer. This will also let you quickly identify what isn't familiar or isn't being used.
  3. Delete the duplicated and unneeded files. Do you have six copies of your syllabus? Multiple uploads of the same file? Delete anything you aren’t planning on using in the future.
    • Blackboard will warn you if you try to delete a file that is linked in your content. You can also click the context menu for any item and use the 360o view to see if (and where) a file is living in your course.
  4. Check for the big stuff. Try sorting your documents by size to get an idea of the scope of what you've been carrying around term to term. In particular, we're looking for huge PowerPoints, audio, and video files.
    • PPTs with lots of images not only take up a lot of space, but they are also harder for students to download and use. Maybe consider replacing them with the PDF version?
    • Media files - audio and video in particular - are notorious space hogs. Let’s get those moved into Kaltura instead, where you'll not only save space and make them easier to view, but you'll also get the UDL benefits of automatic captioning. Just email eLearning and we can help!

How Do I?

Course files guide: Deleting and Cleaning up Course Files

Bulk Download Files
Organize and Sort Files
Delete Old and Duplicate Files


Managing Large Media Files
Converting PPT to PDF
Sizing Down Images


Weeks Four and Five

Streamline your Course Shell

In Week One we did an initial overview of our courses. Dig up your notes from that exercise, because now we're going to look at cleaning up the student-facing parts of your course.

Before you embark on this, it will be helpful to have an idea of how Blackboard content will translate into Canvas. In almost every case there is a direct equivalent (the major exceptions here are journals, blogs and wikis), but they may have a different name and/or nomenclature.

Our full feature comparison can be viewed here, but you can also click the link below to see an overview.

Blackboard-to-Canvas Features At a Glance

If you used Blackboard... 

  You’ll love... 

Course Content, Learning Module, Folder, Sub-Folders, Items

Canvas Modules


Canvas Assignments


Canvas Discussions

Assessments (Tests, Surveys, Pools)

Canvas Quizzes & New Quizzes


Canvas SpeedGraderTM


Canvas Gradebook


Canvas Calendar & To Do 


Canvas Announcements

User Directory

Canvas People

Open Content

Canvas Commons

Where Blackboard had Content Areas and folders, Canvas Modules are your major organizational blocks within a course. Pages act similarly to Items for creating and displaying content. Almost everything else is pretty direct comparison!


Action Items

  1. Remove any unneeded items, announcements, discussions, links to files, etc.
  2. Check unused/hidden content areas. If you’re in the habit of storing things in hidden content areas, take a look through them. Would it be better to store those documents outside of theLMS instead?
    • For assignments or lecture content that you've written in Blackboard but aren't sure if you'll use again, copy the text into a word document and save that file to your computer. You'll be able to easily copy that information/text into a new Canvas class if you change your mind about using it.
  3. Check links to outside sources (YouTube, webpages, files, etc.). Correct or remove broken links.
  4. Organize remaining content in as clear and organized manner as possible. This organization may be the current course structure, a vision for a new structure, or one that is will more closely mimic how courses are structured in Canvas.
  5. Look through your Course Tools. If you expand Course Tools, you'll see links to areas for Discussion Boards, Journals, Tests, and more. Once you've cleaned out unused content links in your student-facing areas, you'll be able to delete the actual items themselves. Bonus - this will remove unused columns from your gradebook as well.

Ready to migrate your course content?
Please visit our Canvas Content Migration page for directions!