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Reuse a Moodle Course using "Import"

You can import a course you taught in a previous semester that is still on our Moodle server, or a course belonging to another instructor if you have permission to copy it.

What Gets Copied in the Import Process

The Import process copies all content and most settings, and only works for courses that are on the UMass Moodle server. If you only need to copy some part of a course (e.g., only quizzes or readings), or want to restore a course from a Moodle backup file (.mbz) (e.g., a back up of a course no longer on our Moodle server, or of a Moodle course from another institution), contact the Instructional Media Lab at (413) 545-2823 or

When the import process runs, it copies Resources, Activities and Settings, including gradebook Categories and grade calculations.

The imported course will NOT include student enrollment from the previous course, or any contributions to Activities made by members of the previous course (including students, TAs, and instructors). This means that forum posts, database and glossary contributions, and wiki content will not be included in the import. For assistance exporting such content to reuse, please contact the Instructional Media Lab at (413) 545-2823 or

Some settings and activities, if used, will need to be reestablished:

  • Delete and recreate Turnitin assignments
  • Reset due dates
  • Recreate group membership
  • Reset Guest Access

How to Use the Import Tool

Warning: The Import command only works in an "empty" course. If the import process did not work as expected, or if you imported the wrong course, do not use the Import tool a second time. If you do, it will simply ADD more content rather than replacing the content in the course! Contact the Instructional Media Lab at or (413) 545-2823 and ask to have your course recreated if you need to re-import a course.

To import a previous into a new, empty course:

  1. In SPIRE, request a Moodle course for the new term. You must request a new course shell each semester you teach a course.
    For more, see Request Your Moodle Course - Overview.
  2. Once you have been notified that the course is ready to work in, log into Moodle and, in the My Courses block, click the name of the new course to open it. 
    Note: If you do not see the name of your course, you will need to click Show hidden courses to access courses that are not yet released to students.
  3. The new course will open with the default settings, blocks, number of sections, etc.
    IMPORTANT: Do not change anything in new course before beginning the import process. You need to import into an "empty" course.
  4. In the Administration block, click Import. The Find a course to import data from page will open.
  5. The page will list a limited number of courses you have previously taught in Moodle and courses another instructor has told us you have permission to copy. If you do not see the course you wish to copy on the list, enter the course number or name in the Search field and click Search.
  6. Under Select a Course, select the radio button for the course to copy and click Continue. The Confirm Import page will open.
  7. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Perform import. Moodle will copy the contents and settings of the selected course into your new course. Depending on the size and number of items to copy, this may take a few moments. Once the import process is complete, a confirmation message appears.
  8. Click Continue. You will be returned to the new course.
  9. The copied content will appear in the new course. You may proceed with editing the course as needed.  Be sure to attend to these important tasks:
    • Update any references in the course to the term taught
    • Update your syllabus
    • Edit due dates for activities such as Assignments and Quizzes. See ​Edit Dates for Multiple Activities & Resources in Moodle for information on how to change many due dates at once.
    • If you use Groups in this course, in the Course Settings, select the default Group mode (separate or visible), and under Administration > Users > Groups, recreate group membership. We advise you to wait until after the end of add-drop for this step.
    • If you will be using Guest Access, it will need to be enabled in Course Settings.
    • Delete and recreate Turnitin assignments*
    *Note: Because Turnitin assignments are hosted on the Turnitin server and are associated with particular courses, they cannot be reused in a different course. If you open a Turnitin assignment imported from a previous course, you will receive an error message.

How long do courses stay on Moodle?

Once grades have been submitted, course materials and grading information will remain on the server for approximately 18 months. This allows ample time for students to resolve incompletes and for faculty to make their own archives of course work for future reference. After the 18-month period, materials are removed from the server to make room for future courses. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to maintain long-term storage of Moodle courses due to limited physical space and resources.

For example, following this schedule, your Spring 2014 & Summer 2014 Moodle course sections will be removed shortly after the add/drop period ends in February 2016. Only course sections taught in Moodle during the Spring 2014 & Summer 2014 semesters will be removed at that time. If there are student data or materials in these courses which you wish to keep, please make sure you have copied it out of Moodle before the add/drop period ends in February 2016, as this information cannot be retrieved after that date.