Canvas is for Students
September 22, 2015

Canvas is for Students

Bryan Tanner | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version


Modules Used

  • Self-created modules

Overall Satisfaction with Canvas

I previously used Canvas to help me facilitate a BYU undergrad course designed to train pre-service, high school teachers how to effectively implement new technologies in their classrooms. I chose Canvas as a learning platform—over Blackboard and Learning Suite (BYU's proprietary LMS)—because I felt Canvas helped me and my students meet our course objectives better than the alternatives. I set up separate Canvas "courses" for each section I teach. I utilized many Canvas features:

  • broadcasted and email announcements
  • hosted multi-media content
  • facilitated outside-of-class discussions
  • allowed students to submit work
  • gave feedback on assignments
  • posted events on the calendar
  • kept an updated gradebook

While Canvas is a popular tool amongst many faculty and students in my Instructional Psychology and Technology Department, I feel like we are relatively "early adopters" of the product amongst other colleges and departments at our university.

Canvas was a better than Blackboard, for me, primarily because it's a free, open-source software. I prefer it to my school's private LMS because the user interface and some of the features are less intuitive and still a little buggy. Not to mention, Canvas's headquarters is 20 miles up the road from us. (Supporting a local, but booming, business.)
  • Instructure, the makers of Canvas, are brilliant folks with an excellent mission—to be better than Blackboard and to offer their LMS service for free. You gotta love that.
  • The rich, yet intuitive, features are exactly what I needed as a college-level educator.
  • Canvas is an open-source software. That means it's designed for modular flexibility. If you have a third-party app that you want to include yourself, there's a way to do that. If you are low-tech user, you can rely on their frequent updates to improve your experience.
  • The online help community is very active and very helpful. Anytime I have a question, I go to and I can easily navigate to a thread with my specific problem for help. Response times are next to immediate.
  • I've met the makers of Canvas at Open Ed and AECT conferences. They are brilliant and cool dudes.
  • I had a hard time with the Calendar feature when I copied courses from previous semesters. I think they've improved the experience by now.
  • One of the cutting edge features that other services are coming out with, which I haven't seen yet from Instructure's Canvas, is a live collaboration space, where students and teachers can "create" together. (E.g., a whiteboard)
  • There were a small number of specific things that irked me when I was trying to push Canvas to its limits. I got on the message board and aired my frustrations and was immediately replied to. Either they put my idea on the "next version to-do list" or they said, "yeah, we're not going to do that [for these reasons]," which I was cool with.
  • [Positive] Information is archived and accessible after the course is completed. Many users go back to the course to review the discussion boards and the course content as reference material once they've been hired as teachers.
  • [Positive] Students receive more immediate feedback since everything is done online, instead of analog, in class. (E.g., Students can choose to receive an email immediately after instructor feedback/grades are submitted.)
To summarize what I stated before, Canvas was the best LMS (learning management system) option for me—primarily becuase it was free. But also because it is the most user-friendly. Additionally, I loved the online help community. And my learners agreed that it helped their learning process. (I sent out a post-course survey to my students see whether or not they felt Canvas enhanced or hindered their learning, and how. The response was unanimous—it enhanced.)
I've only used Canvas for the specific purpose of creating a blended learning atmosphere for my undergraduate class. (And it's perfect for that.) I especially recommend it to small or private schools looking for a tool to help them organize their content, facilitate collaboration, and manage assessment.

When I think Canvas, I think student collaboration, not business collaboration. There are other, simpler tools to help businesses host and deliver content.