Get Prepared

Follow the five-step checklist below to get you ready for the move.

Step 1: Access your sandbox.

ITS has created sandboxes for instructors to familiarize themselves with Canvas while you build and store your content until your official course is ready. You can access your sandbox by logging into Once you have logged in, you will see your courses, including your sandbox, on your Dashboard–Canvas’s default landing page. If you do not see your sandbox, please email XCITE to have one set up for you.

Step 2: Get acquainted with the Canvas tools.

Canvas has many standard LMS features, including assignments, discussion forums, quizzes, file sharing, grading, and announcements. To learn about any of these features, refer to the how-to resources available at:

The Features section of this website also includes a 1:1 comparison of features found in iLearn and Canvas.

You can also share this Canvas Student Guide with your students.

Step 3: Start with a blank Canvas?

One of the first big decisions you will need to make is: Should I start from scratch? Or should I copy my content over from iLearn (aka Blackboard)? It may seem like an obvious answer, but not so fast!

*Depending on the complexity of your existing iLearn course, you may end up spending as much time reorganizing copied content as you would if you were to start from scratch.*

  • Starting from scratch allows you to get to learn and know Canvas better. It is also an excellent opportunity to redesign and optimize your students’ learning experiences. True, it may take more time to build a course from scratch, but keep in mind that you can reuse the content you develop in subsequent terms.
  • Copying content from iLearn to Canvas can make the transition easier. You will still need to spend some time reorganizing the transferred content. Also, some activities, such as blogs and journals, won’t transfer over correctly, so you will have to rethink how to reinterpret those kinds of assignments best. Lastly, copying an iLearn course over to Canvas may add many obsolete or redundant files. Therefore, consider doing a little spring cleaning before transferring your material. If you opt to use this method, check out the Migrate from iLearn page for step-by-step instructions.
  • Many instructors have found that the easiest thing to do is combining both methods, where they bulk upload course-related files and then recreate the page, assignments, and discussions in Canvas. XCITE recommends this method as you migrate over to Canvas.
Step 4: Design your students’ course experience.

Unlike iLearn, which uses folders to deliver content, Canvas offers its module structure to assist instructors in building the student experience. So, what are modules? According to Canvas: “modules allow you to organize your content to help control the flow of your course. They are used to organize course content by weeks, units, [chapters, themes, projects,] or a different organizational structure that works for your course. With modules, you are essentially creating a [list view] of what you would like your students to do.” Before building your course in Canvas, ask yourself what kind of module setup you will use? Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, etc.? Not sure? Explore some of the sample courses below to see how the instructors set up their modules.

Still unsure what module setup to use? See the Organize Your Course section of this website. XCITE is also available to help you determine the best module structure for your course.

Step 5: Get Support
  • For technical issues in Canvas, contact Canvas Support at 877-469-7640 or use the Help tab on the left navigation menu in Canvas to get live support.
  • For enrollment issues, contact UCR ITS.
  • For help with course design and course building, contact XCITE.

Some of the content and structure of this page has been adapted from UC San Diego’s Prepare for Canvas page.


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