Transferring Files from Blackboard to PolyLearn

Cal Poly has adopted Moodle as its central learning management system. Course content will not be migrated automatically for faculty from Blackboard to Moodle.  Programs designed to move and “map” content between the two disparate systems have met with only limited success.  While course migration may seem an attractive option, in reality, most faculty at other universities have opted to “start fresh” as they learned to use Moodle.  In fact, NOT having existing and potentially obsolete content in unexpected locations within Moodle was actually preferable to faculty; it enabled them to capitalize on improved file management functionality in Moodle and to structure and design their Moodle courses to their best advantage. The thought of transferring all the content from your Blackboard course to Moodle may seem daunting at first, but the following approach will make this transition much easier for you.

Blackboard is no longer available since Monday November 26, 2012.


Table of Contents

Moving from Blackboard to Moodle


Exporting Blackboard content

Blackboard was turned off November 26, 2012. If you have exported your course from Blackboard as a ZIP file, you can then use bFree to access the files.

Student data (discussion, assignments, drop box, grades, wiki) will be stored in the Blackboard system (1 years worth) if needed for a grade changes.

Installing bFree

Install bFree to extract the content from your exported Blackboard .zip file and upload it into your Moodle course.
Note: bFree has been tested on both Windows XP and Macintosh X computers and requires that you have the latest Java Software installed. Check your system and install Java Software if required. Please make sure that your distribution of copyrighted materials conforms to copyright laws and fair use policies.
WARNING: Please note that bFree does not yet extract all types of content but it does extract all section and subsection pages, texts, wikis, forums, announcements, group and course uploads, and attached files of all types.

NOTE: If you need the exported Blackboard .zip file, please email the PolyLearn Support Team at

  1. You can download the bFree tool (for free) at: ttp://
  2. Scroll down to the section labeled “Download” and click on the “Launch” button as shown below.
    the launch button is highlighted on the bFree download page
    Note: Some systems will require additional access to install bFree. Clicking Allow will let the software finish installing.
    the access window that will appear to confirm for the installation


Using bFree

The bFree tool will extract the content that is within the exported Blackboard file.

  1. Open the bFree program.
  2. Click the File button and choose “Open an archive ‘zip’ …” in order to choose which export file to use.
    the open an archive option is selected from the file pull-down menu
    the export file is selected from the file picker window
    Once chosen, the export files contents will be previewed in the Course Contents tab.

  3. The extracted file will have the attached files and show the structure of your exported Blackboard course. Create a new folder on your Desktop, and title it the name of your course.

    • We suggest clicking the Hide non-content items button from within the File menu in order to remove some of the clutter within the extracted file view.
      the hide non-content items option is selected
  4. Now, click the “Extract as files/folders …” and select the newly created folder as the destination for the extraction.
    the extract as files/folders option is selected from the file pull-down menu
    a screenshot of an explorer window where the instructor is picking a destination folder
    All the content exported from Blackboard will be within the folder now as seen below.
    Note: Content that was HTML or text (rather than attached.doc, .pdf, .xls, etc.) will have to be copy/pasted into your Moodle course as seen below.
    a screenshot of the folders and subfolders that were created using bFree
  5. Compress (i.e., zip) the topmost folder of your course folder structure that you have just created and place this compressed version on your Desktop as well. Open your Moodle course and upload the zipped folder into the “My Private Files” area of your Moodle course; then unzip it.  When you are done, drag the folder that you created of your course materials (currently on your Desktop) into your personal computer’s Documents folder for safekeeping. Please consider making a back up of this important folder to an external drive or to a DVD or CD.