Open edX® Tutorial: How to export a course backup.

A very useful feature in Open edX Studio is the ability to Export and Import copies of your course. In this tutorial you will learn how to use the Export and Import features to make backups of your course content. Before we go any further it is extremely important to understand what is and what is NOT exported from your course when you use this feature.

Note: If you already know how to Export a course backup and you want to Import that backup to another course, then you may be interested to read our other tutorial named How to Import a Course Backup.

Let’s start by understanding what data is exported with a course Export:

  • Values from Advanced Settings, including MATLAB API keys and LTI passports
  • Course Content (all Sections, Sub-sections, and Units)
  • Course Structure
  • Individual Problems
  • Pages
  • Course Assets
  • Course Settings

Data NOT exported with a course Export:

  • User Data
  • Course Team Data
  • Forum/discussion Data
  • Certificates

In other words, only data related to content of the course forms part of the backup. Data related to the learners and course team is NOT exported. This is extremely important to understand because if you later import one of your backups to the course, it will 100% override all the learner data back to nothing. If this happens, you lose all your learner data which can be a disaster!

So, what is the point of this Export/Import feature if it overrides the learner data. Well, the Export/Import feature is typically used for two main reasons:

(1) While the course is still in its development phase (i.e. the course has not gone live yet and no learners have signed up yet) if one of the Course Team members deletes a part of the course by mistake, then you can easily backup the most recently Exported version of the course in order to fix the error. As there is no learner data in the course, it doesn’t matter if you Import and wipe the user data because there is no user data yet.

(2) If you want to use your course content as the basis for a new course and don’t want to redevelop all the content, you can make an Export of the course in question, then Import that copy of the course to a newly created and empty course. It’s a fast way to replicate course content from an existing course to a new one. For example, you might have have three (3) different courses and all three (3) of those courses share the same foundational module. Once you create that foundational module in the first course, you can Export it and Import it into the other two (2) remaining courses so that they all have that same foundational module. Once that is done, the different courses can be developed independently without interfering with one another. Changes you make to any course after the Import has taken place will not affect the other courses as they are all separate courses.

Okay, now that you understand the basics of the Export/Import feature, let’s learn how to do it in Studio.

Note: If you already know how to navigate to the course Outline from inside Studio, you can go directly to Step 2 below.

Step 1: Navigate to the course Outline from inside Studio.

In order to access the course Outline page, you first need to sign into Studio. From the Studio Home where all your courses are listed, click the course name of the course you want to enter. In the below image the course name is indicated as “Demonstration Course”, just click that to go inside the course to the course Outline.

Image: A screenshot of the Open edX Studio Home page.

Open edX Studio Home


When you click the course name, you will immediately be taken to the course Outline, as shown in the below image.

Image: A screenshot of the course Outline in Studio with the Section and Subsection you added in our previous tutorial How to Add Course Sections and Subsections.

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Step 2: From the course Outline, click the Tools dropdown in the navigation menu.

When you click the Tools dropdown, you will see some options such as Export and Import. Go ahead and click Export!

Image: A screenshot of the Tools menu dropdown showing the Export and Import options.

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Step 3: From the Export page, click the blue Export Course Content button.

When you click the blue Export Course Content button (as shown below), a list of processes will start. These include Preparing, Exporting, and Compressing the course content. A green checkmark will indicate a successful export of your course content (as shown below).

Image: A screenshot of the blue Export Course Content button on the Export page.

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Image: A screenshot of the Export processes successfully completed with green a checkmark.

Multiple Choice option.


Step 4: Click the blue Download Exported Course button.

Once the course Export has successfully proceeded, you need to download that file and save it to your computer, for example in your Downloads folder or anywhere you like. Go ahead and click the blue Download Exported Course button.

Image: Screenshot of the blue Download Exported Course button.

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Your computer will ask you to confirm the download as per the following image. Go ahead and choose the folder you want to download the file to, then click Save. The file will save in a format known as tar.gz. This is a special file type associated with the underlying Operating System (OS) that Open edX Studio runs on, named Ubuntu. Don’t worry if you have never seen a tar.gz file before, just save it like you would any other common file type.

Image: Screenshot of the save file prompt

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That’s it, you have successfully exported a copy of your course content. That’s all there is to making a backup of your course content.


Note: If you want to Import that file into an empty course (or any course for that matter) then you may be interested to read our tutorial named How to Import a Course Backup.


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