Canvas - what I've learned about it as a language teacher and graduate student
September 16, 2016

Canvas - what I've learned about it as a language teacher and graduate student

Emily Saunders | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 5 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Canvas

I have experience writing course materials in Canvas for Russian language classes. In particular I've been modifying some materials originally written in Blackboard to use in Canvas.

I've also worked in Canvas as a student taking graduate courses online. The institution offering these courses (coincidentally) had also recently made a switch from Blackboard to Canvas.
  • I looks clean and modern.
  • "Next" and "Previous" buttons allow for a linear and relatively smooth navigation between pages.
  • The video and audio recording tools are easy and fairly intuitive for both teacher and student.
  • Canvas is very linear. When working through modules students will not be able to see the border between Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 unless you add numbers to the headings and (even better!) create a "Finished with Lesson 1 / Go on to Lesson 2" page. Also it is awkward to add in any "If you want to know more on this topic..." folders within Canvas. It'd be possible to add a link to an external resource (YouTube playlist, Padlet, Thinglink, GoogleDoc), but you wouldn't assemble those resources within a Canvas page.
  • It's not intuitive for students to know where to start. You really need to create a straightforward Homepage in Canvas to give students a point of navigation beyond just clicking the Modules link in the Menu.
  • You can't add Menu items, only control which of a number of set items students can see (as opposed to Blackboard where you can create any number of content folders, tool links, web links and keep them in a left hand menu).
  • In Discussion boards the indent difference between an original post and a response to that post is basically negligible. When scanning a list of posts, it is hard to take in at a glance which were original posts and which were responses. It makes for a really crowded looking Discussion board.
Honestly, I prefer Blackboard. It's a behemoth and hard to maintain with the number of clicks it takes to set something up or edit. And the voice recording tools are clunky, but it offers more variety in terms of course customization. The flexibility of how you set up the menu bar is something I find useful for students (like I said earlier, the homepage in Canvas has to be really good for students not to feel lost).

Canvas looks better than Blackboard and has better video and audio recording tools, but I kind of like Blackboard better.
Canvas is great if you want to embed content from other sources (YouTube, Padlet, etc., display well). Canvas is great if you want students interacting with each other using audio and video. Canvas is good for date management. It's not as easy as as one might think to set up well for novice materials creators.