Use Excel to create or modify outcomes in Canvas

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Creating a large set of outcomes in the Canvas Outcomes tool for a department, school, campus, or program can be very labor intensive. If you are comfortable working in Microsoft Excel, you can speed things up by creating or updating the outcomes data in Excel and importing the results into Canvas. This article explains how to create a skeletal outcomes structure in Canvas, export it to Excel, modify the data, and import the results into the Outcomes tool. It's also possible to create an entire outcomes set from scratch in Excel, but since minor errors can prevent the data from importing properly, this option is only recommended for advanced users. For more, see How do I import outcomes for an account? and Outcomes Import Format Documentation.

Completing the actions in this document requires administrative privileges in Canvas. For information on how to request administrative access, see Administrative access to Canvas at IU.

Create the outcomes framework in Canvas

To create the skeletal framework in Canvas:

  1. Create the parent group and subgroups.
  2. Add the first outcome to the group or appropriate subgroup. In addition to entering the name and description, set the rating scale, mastery level, and calculation method to the values that will be used by all outcomes in the set (for detailed instructions, see How do I create an outcome for an account?)
  3. Create the remaining outcomes in the set, adding them to the parent group or subgroups as appropriate. Do not set the ratings scale, mastery level, or calculation method for these outcomes. You'll do this later by copying and pasting this data in Excel.

Export the outcomes

Once the skeletal framework is complete, export it to a CSV file:

  1. Log into Canvas and navigate to the administrative account containing your outcomes set.
  2. In the account navigation menu, click Settings.
  3. In the Settings tool, click Reports to view the reports available in the account.
  4. Locate the report named "Outcomes Export", and click Run Report.
  5. It may take a minute or two for the report to be generated. Refresh the settings tool and return to the Reports tab. When your report is available, you should see today's date and a download link for the report similar to the screenshot below:
    Download link next to current date
  6. Click the download icon to save the CSV file to a local drive or cloud storage service.

Edit the outcomes in Excel


When editing an exported CSV file or creating an import file from scratch, note the following requirements:

  • Parent outcome groups must precede child groups.
  • Outcome groups must precede outcomes.
  • The value in the "vendor_guid" column must be unique.
  • In the "vendor_guid" column, only values created in Canvas via the user interface should begin with the prefix canvas_outcome: or canvas_outcome_group:. If you want to add a new outcome or group to the CSV file, the value of the "vendor_guid" column should not use the prefix.
  1. Open the CSV file in Microsoft Excel.
    • The first row contains the column headings. Never change the values in this row. Descriptions of the purpose and requirements for each column are available in Outcomes Import Format Documentation.
    • The data describes two different object types, groups and outcomes. The type is designated in column B. You will be primarily concerned with the rows containing outcomes, not groups.
  2. Locate the row in the file for the first outcome you created in the set--that is, the one with the correct rating scale, mastery level, and calculation method. Select the data in columns F ("calculation_method") and G ("calculation_int") of this row and copy the data to the clipboard.
    CSV file with Columns F and G highlighted for the first outcome row
  3. Select column F in the other outcomes in the set and paste the data from the clipboard. Be sure not to paste into rows that represent groups and/or rows for outcomes that belong to other sets.
  4. Return to the row for the first outcome you created, and select the data in columns J ("mastery_points"), L ("ratings"), and all columns to the right of L containing rating scores or descriptions.
    CSV file with columns J through P highlighted for the first outcome row
  5. Select column J in the other outcomes in the set and paste the data from the clipboard. If the pasted rating scale has fewer values than the original scale for those rows, delete the extra values and their labels. (They will appear to the right of the label for the smallest value in the pasted scale.)

    All of the outcomes in the CSV file should now have identical values for columns F, G, J, K, and columns to the right of K containing rating scale values and labels.

  6. Save the CSV file.

Import the CSV file into Canvas

  1. Return to Canvas and navigate to the Outcomes tool in your unit's account.
  2. Click Import. Then use drag and drop or browse to upload the CSV file into the Outcomes tool. When the import has completed, you'll be notified both on screen and via email. If any errors were encountered, the email notification will provide details.

This is document awbc in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2021-09-21 15:34:50.