Tricky - a boy playing Jenga

Tricky content

Just because you can use a shiny tech trick doesn’t mean that you should.

Presenting Learning Content

Moodle Labels, Lessons, Pages and Books are the primary elements to carry content. Which to use?

  • Labels are the fast track to scroll of death
  • Importing Canvas content automatically generates Moodle Pages. Lots.
  • Lessons are cool but too limited and have gradebook & UX problems.
  • Moodle Books have strong navigation but you can’t add activities inside them.

The best compromise was to use Moodle Books. A topic introduced by using a Moodle Label. The Moodle Book provided a deep dive into that topic.


In the above image, you can see the structure of content: an introduction, a list of Moodle resources and activities. Note how a Moodle book was split with activities between the two. Then simple, light indenting was used to ‘group’ the learning material.

The Moodle Books were favoured because clear, obvious navigation: Table of Contents as well as the next/previous/exit book text labels.


Icons associated with media or activities were simply stripped out – unless they had a specific pedagogical purpose. Be consistent. Do less work was the mantra.

Glyph-icons had to be removed post upgrade of the LMS to Moodle 3.5.

All those funny icons, symbols and emojies use Unicode. The issue with unicode is it’s not displayed consistently across operating system or device. These have been left in learning content but removed from headings.


Canvas exports any LaTeX as image. Fortunately it also embeds the original LaTeX code in the image alt attribute. These were changed by hand.


Some simple interactions in Canvas were hand crafted, designed to be cross-device compatible. These had to be replaced with a Bootstrap panel.


This was ported as-is. However an additional line was added about playback requirements.


Fortunately, it could be ported as-is.


Canvas has excellent file management and exports all files. The trick is to re-embed the files in Moodle.

Rather than use the Moodle File Resource, files are embedded into hyperlinks.


Key learnings

Every non-standard embellishment of content creates risk for projects like this. It simply creates more work or requires more significant investment in technical solutions.

Another surprising insight, these content issues for this project also hold true for the mobile app version of the LMS.

Canvas To Moodle Stories

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