A beautiful, integrated LMS that saves us time and builds social connection!
September 21, 2015

A beautiful, integrated LMS that saves us time and builds social connection!

Jeanne Rewa | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Canvas

Canvas serves as the platform for asynchronous learning for the online graduate level certificate program our organization partners with two other organizations to create and implement. We have program participants from all over the US and a few other countries who use Canvas as their learning and communication hub for the program. They use a broad range of features in the software - discussion forums, assignments, editing wiki pages, embedding Google docs and other docs, sharing files, surveys, embedded media, and links to other applications like Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing. Our participants are also utilizing the mobile app version of the software.
  • Canvas makes it smooth and easy to edit assignments and discussions, streamlining the number of places you need to make changes, compared to other LMSes. Changing the due date and points in the assignment itself, for example, updates the calendar, the syllabus, and the learning modules list automatically.
  • The discussion forum is streamlined compared to other LMSs, so you don't have to click to multiple pages to view instructions or threads - it's all on one page. We also like that you can "like" posts on the discussion forum.
  • The overall navigation of Canvas is clean and intuitive, making it easy to learn and attractive-looking.
  • Canvas makes it easy for a course designer or instructor to embed relative links to other pages and parts of the course, and preserves these links when you copy or import the course into another course. This allows us to make the courses more user-friendly and makes course development MUCH faster than with other LMSes.
  • The Modules page is a great feature for viewing a course at a glance. It is very helpful to be able to view requirements and due dates and track your progress all on one page.
  • Canvas has a strong feature set for allowing communication between users, and in particular between students and instructors. The built in email tool, discussions on course announcements, and the ability for students and teachers to comment back and forth privately on assignments (including an easy to use audio recording tool) are appreciated features among our users, which will hopefully increase the social connection and student support in our online courses.
  • Canvas allows instructors and course editors to embed images directly through the WYSIWYG editor, but not students. Students in the course (if they don't know how to embed external images using code) have to attach images, which makes the discussions a little more clunky and less fun (having to open attached files instead of viewing inline).
  • The options for adaptive release and gamification in general, including achievement badges, are much more limited in Canvas than in Blackboard Learn. I would like to see more advanced options in this area in Canvas.
  • Decreased time for course setup.
  • Greater ease and less time for training new participants and instructors on using the LMS.
  • Greater range of feature use.
  • Potentially (still yet to be fully seen) greater social connection between users through the platform. This could increase overall learning and retention in our program, which is a major benefit.
There are a few features that Canvas does not offer that Blackboard Learn had - Blackboard Learn had more advanced gamification features including advanced achievement badges and adaptive release rules, and allowed students to embed images using the WYSIWYG editor. Overall, Canvas allows a more streamlined, attractive, efficient, and user-friendly approach to the same functionality. The number of clicks required to do the same tasks is generally fewer in Canvas, and course set-up is dramatically streamlined in Canvas.
I would ask anyone considering Canvas about their budget (most likely limiting factor), the level of features they would be using, and intent to use gamification in courses. I am likely to recommend Canvas, with a few exceptions based on these criteria.

Using Canvas

The functions in Canvas are well integrated and consistent across the application, and mostly intuitive. Overall navigation and setup is streamlined through integrated features and navigation. The feedback we've gotten from our program participants is that it is easy to learn to use. It also integrates well with third party software like Google Docs and Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing software.
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Quick to learn
Feel confident using
  • Adding due dates and points to assignments is simple and automatically integrates with the module page, syllabus, and calendar. Moving due dates by dragging and dropping an assignment in the calendar is great!
  • Linking to assignments, pages, and files in the course using the sidebar (for designers and instructors) is super easy.
  • Overall, adding and configuring assignments.
  • Managing the modules page (rearranging assignments, adding requirements, renaming things, etc.)
  • Using the integrated Student View to see what a student sees.
  • Can't think of any!
Yes - Very well! Our participants are very happy to have it, especially for free! The drawbacks of the mobile interface are:

  • You cannot use it as an instructor or designer to edit (but that's understandable).
  • The settings of what navigation links are available on the course menu do not follow to the course in the mobile device (menu items hidden in the web version appear in the mobile app navigation).
  • Some page layouts don't translate super well, but that's more the challenge of setting up the pages well on the course designer side.