With the switch from Moodle to Canvas beginning the upcoming academic 2023-2024 year, it begs the question: what is Canvas?

Canvas is a learning management system (LMS) that is widely used in higher education. It is a cloud-based platform that allows educators to create and manage online courses, assignments, quizzes, and discussions. Canvas is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, making it easy for instructors and students to use.

Used by large, notable universities such as Arizona State University, Penn State, and The Ohio State University, it quickly became the preferred platform for academics. Canvas partners with Google, Microsoft, and Zoom. 

“Canvas.” Instructure. 2023. https://www.instructure.com/canvas

Students can expect to use Canvas to access their course materials, including syllabi, assignments, and readings. They can submit assignments, take quizzes, participate in discussions, and communicate with their instructors and classmates through the platform. Canvas also has a mobile app, which allows students to access their course materials on-the-go. 

In terms of features, Canvas offers a range of tools to enhance the learning experience. Instructors can create multimedia-rich content, such as videos, images, and audio, to engage students. Canvas also has a built-in gradebook that allows instructors to keep track of student progress and provide feedback on assignments. Canvas also has a robust communication system that allows for real-time collaboration and interaction. Students can use the messaging system to communicate with their instructors and classmates, and can participate in group discussions and chat sessions.

Compared to other LMS platforms, such as Moodle and Blackboard, Canvas is known for its user-friendly interface and modern design. Canvas is also highly customizable, allowing instructors to personalize their course materials and assignments. Additionally, Canvas has a robust mobile app that is well-reviewed by users. 

Moodle, on the other hand, is an open-source LMS that is known for its flexibility and extensibility. It is highly customizable and can be tailored to meet the needs of specific courses or institutions. Moodle has a range of features, including discussion forums, quizzes, and surveys, as well as built-in video conferencing and mobile app support. Moodle does not have a successful mobile app – with most students using their web app and access via the Moodle website. 

Blackboard is another popular LMS platform that has been around since the early 2000s. It is known for its robust feature set, which includes course content management, grading, and assessment tools, as well as communication and collaboration tools. Blackboard also has a mobile app that allows students to access their course materials on-the-go.

Overall, Canvas is a modern and user-friendly LMS that is widely used in higher education. Students can expect to use Canvas to access their course materials, communicate with their instructors and classmates, and engage in online learning activities. While it is similar to other LMS platforms like Moodle and Blackboard in many ways, Canvas is known for its intuitive design, customization options, and mobile app support.

“Canvas.” Instructure. 2023. https://www.instructure.com/canvas

In terms of cost, Canvas is generally considered to be more affordable than Blackboard, while Moodle is open-source and free to use. Canvas and Blackboard are both proprietary platforms that require a subscription or license fee to use.

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