Export a Brightspace course

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Brightspace courses can be compressed and exported by the teacher or a teaching assistant. Exporting courses is important when backing up course content and when sharing content with a colleague.

Why export?

  • It's always a good idea to have a backup copy of your courses that could be imported back if needed.
  • Minnesota State maintains the last eight years of courses on the current Brightspace system. Each semester, they purge courses older than that.
  • If you want to share components of your course or your entire course with colleagues, sharing the export package is one way to do that. Your colleagues can then import the package into their own course.

What's an export/import "package"?

  • Archived Brightspace courses: When you export a Brightspace course, it generates what's called an export zip package. This is a zip file, a special compressed file that contains all of the other files associated with the components you chose to export. The export process creates this file and then you download and save it. The zip file can then be imported back into a new Brightspace course when needed. The file unpacks itself automatically when it's imported.
  • Publisher course packs or cartridges: Publishers often provide supplementary materials and test banks in the form of a zip file that they may call a course pack or cartridge. They typically email this to instructors or provide a link that instructors use to download it to their computers. This file can then be imported into a Brightspace course. It either unpacks itself automatically or the publisher sends instructions for unpacking it manually.

Using the Import/Export/Copy Components Tool

Using the Import/Export/Copy Components Tool, instructors can export just about anything from a Brightspace course, saving it to their local computer's hard drive or a network drive. Instructors can easily do this themselves, but need to keep the following in mind:

  • You can only export Brightspace courses in which you are listed as the Teacher or a Teaching Assistant.
  • You can chose to export all of the components of a course or selected components. If you choose to export everything, this will include date and time restrictions (e.g., hidden content or activities, quiz or dropbox deadlines). If you import this course later, you will need to change those dates and times to correspond to the current semester.
  • If you have publisher-provided or other copyrighted material in your course, remember that you will be making a copy of it when you create the export package and another copy if you import it into another course or share it with another instructor. Please make sure you have permission to do so.
Fig 1. The Import/Export/Copy Components Tool
Fig 2. Select components to export
Fig 3. Select the link to download the zip file


  1. Login to Brightspace and open the course you want to export.
  2. Click the Course Admin link.
  3. Click the Import/Export/Copy Components link (Figure 1).
  4. Select the Export as Brightspace Package radio button. (There are a couple other export formats available, but use Export as Brightspace Package when sharing a course or making a backup.)
  5. Click the Start button. You will be taken to the Select Course Material screen.
  6. Check the check boxes for the components you want to export (Figure 2). If you want to select all components, check the topmost check box labeled Select All Components and this will put a check in all the boxes below it. By default, all of the items in a component will be exported, but if you only want to copy certain items from a tool, select the Select individual items to export radio button under that tool.
  7. Click the Continue button
  8. If you elected to select individual items to export for any of the components, you will be presented with a list of items for each component. Select the items you want to export and click the Continue button to advance to the next component. Note that you may need to select the + icon next to the different categories that are listed to expand the list.
  9. The final screen asks you to confirm the material you are going to export. Select the Modify link if you want to make any changes and then select the Continue button.
  10. You will see a screen that says the export has begun. Click the Done button.
  11. Once the little dot appears on the bell icon next to your name at the top right, click the bell to view your notifications. Find o the one that says the download is complete and click on it.
  12. You will see a new page that summarizes the export. IMPORTANT: You must select the Click here to download the export zip package link. This will download the export file to your computer.

Important Details

  • The most important part of this process is the last step: downloading the zip package. What happens when you start the download and where the downloaded file will be saved varies based on the browser you are using.
  • If you elect to export all components from a previous semester's course, this will include all display settings and release conditions that may have been set up with dates and times from the previous semester. Obviously, these dates and times will have elapsed and will need to be edited to correspond to the current semester if you import the course back to Brightspace. If you don't want these time sensitive settings copied, don't select the Content Display Settings, Grade Settings, and Release Conditions components.
  • The export file is a zip file. Once it is on your computer's hard drive or a network drive, it can be moved, copied, and shared as you would any file. It can be imported to Brightspace as is. It can also be opened directly and files can be extracted.

Pro Tips

  • The default name of the export package is not very readable (e.g., D2LExport_1749836_201210543.zip). It includes the course ID, but not the course name. Either rename the file to something easier to understand (you won't break it) or organize your export packages into folders with the course names and semesters specified. Otherwise it may be difficult to find the right export package when you want to upload it to a new course later.

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