Here is a comparison of common functions in Blackboard (no longer used at DU) and Canvas:




Differences & Similarities

Announcements Announcements Communication with students about course events, content availability, course schedule changes, etc.
  • Add RSS feed. [CAN]
  • Add links to course content, images, files, etc.[CAN, Bb]
  • Receive notifications via web services, text, etc.[CAN]
  • Announcements are linked to Discussions. Students can respond to an Announcement, which then puts the thread in a Discussion. [CAN]
  • Announcements appear in Canvas’ news stream on the User Dashboard welcome screen. [CAN]
  • New Announcements are automatically emailed to students. [Bb]
Assignments Assignments The Assignments area gives instructors a place to organize the assignments for their course.
  • Assignments are understood broadly: they can be any graded item, papers, quizzes, or even just something you wish to record, like attendance, for which students turn in nothing. [CAN]
  • Create Assignment Groups to categorize work or tasks such as attendance, discussions, papers, quizzes, etc. All groups can be used to create a weighted total for the final grade. [CAN] [Bb]
  • Highly customize submission types from students (you can restrict the kinds of files allowed); provide a URL; create a media recording as submissions for Assignments. [CAN]
  • Students can resubmit their work for an Assignment and their submission history is viewable by instructors. [CAN] [Bb]
  • You can designate Assignments as group work, customize the settings, and require peer reviews.[CAN] [Bb]
  • Can create a grade column in the gradebook without creating an assignment first. [Bb]
  • Submitted assignments are time and date stamped.[CAN] [Bb]
  • Assignments are automatically added to the Calendar and the course’s Syllabus area. [CAN]
  • The Speed Grader is tied to each Assignment.[CAN]


AvailabilityControl Panel > Settings > Course Availability Published/UnpublishedCourse Setup Checklist> Publish Course The ability for instructors to control when their course is launched.
  • Canvas courses first appear as “unpublished” and instructors must “publish” their course for students to access it. [CAN]
  • You can “conclude” your course at the end of a semester and switch it to a read-only mode. [CAN]
Calendar Calendar To help students and faculty know what is due when, in all of their classes.
  • Copy the calendar feed link into any calendar app that takes iCal feeds (Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook, etc.) [CAN]
  • Drag & drop items on calendar to make changes in dates. Any change made is applied automatically everywhere. [CAN]
  • View up to 10 classes at once with color-coded global calendar view. [CAN]
  • Dates are automatically populated. [CAN]
  • Each user also has a personal calendar (listed as his/her name) for events that aren’t class-related.[CAN]
  • Calendar items will be listed in Canvas’ Syllabus automatically. [CAN]


Control Panel >
Manage Course Menu
Settings > Navigation Provide links to different course areas. These areas can contain content, link to features or tools and provide a quick link to the Gradebook.
  • Create unique course navigation menu links or rename existing menu links. [Bb]
  • You can hide menu items from students. [CAN] [Bb]
  • Any menu button with zero content has its name in gray until activity starts there. [CAN]


Module Page Modules Modules are a way to organize your course.  They can be based on dates (for example, weekly) or on content (chapters 1 through 5, or topics).  They provide a place to link to all of the activities associated with a topic or week – faculty notes, files, quizzes, Canvas Pages, links to external URLs, Assignments, etc.
  • Drag and drop for ordering modules and module content. [CAN]
  • Can set module prerequisites and module completion requirements. [CAN]
  • Can require students to go through module requirements sequentially; you customize what counts as completing a module [CAN]
  • Modules can be “locked” until a given date [CAN]
  • Modules are primarily an organizational tool. [CAN]


Blank Page
Pages are a way to gather together different types of content.
  • Pages can hold content and educational resources that are part of your course but don’t necessarily belong in an Assignment. [CAN] [Bb]
  • Pages can be turned into wikis. [CAN]
  • Pages can be repeatedly used across your course or referred to in multiple Assignments or modules–you can post the same page in multiple places and by editing it once, you’ve updated it everywhere. [CAN]
  • Ability to customize the Home Page Layout of your course with a custom made page. [CAN] [Bb]
  • Pages can include text, video, links to your files. YouTube and other web videos automatically embed on a Page. [CAN] [Bb]
  • Pages can be linked to other Pages. If you’ve ever used a wiki, this is essentially a wiki with a more usable interface. [CAN] [Bb]
  • The Pages section in your course lists all Pages and is one place where you can generate a new Page.[CAN]
  • Page history is saved and accessible so that former versions of a page can be activated. [CAN]
  • Pages can be restricted to teacher-only editing or teacher and student editing [CAN]


Discussions; Discussion Forums Discussions; Topics Discussions enable two-way communication between faculty and students and between students and students.  The discussion area can be used as a “lecture” area for faculty, for peer review, and as a place for students to communicate with each other.
  • Easily drag & drop to reorder topics. [CAN]
  • Add links to course content, images, files, etc.[CAN] [Bb]
  • Receive notifications via social web services, text messaging. [CAN]
  • Receive notification via email. [CAN] [Bb]
  • Option to permit threaded discussions. [CAN] [Bb]


Email Conversations(accessed via the Inbox) Email is a private, two-way communication tool for large or small groups or individuals.
  • Private messages appear in your Conversations inbox. Depending on how you set up your Notifications in your profile, you will receive alerts about these messages via text message, social media or a personal email account. [CAN]
  • Discussion responses can be accessed from Inbox.[CAN]
  • Comments students make as they turn in work are automatically copied to your Conversations inbox.[CAN]
  • Messages can include file attachments, webcam recordings, audio or video uploads, or just text.[CAN]
  • Messages can be Announcements. [CAN]
  • Messages can be sent to any of your classes from Conversations. [CAN]


Files Files is a file management area where you can organize and upload files that will be used in your course.
  • The Files area for your course can be made to be accessible by students. [CAN]
  • You can create folders to organize materials; folders can be locked so that you can skip locking each item inside the folder. [CAN]
  • Drag and drop files into the order you desire or into folders. [CAN] [Bb]
  • All files in this area can downloaded as a .zip file.[CAN] [Bb]
  • You can upload a .zip file to this area and it will auto unzip for you. [CAN] [Bb]


Grade Center Grades Maintains grades for students.
  • Grades is part of the User Dashboard displayed when you first log in; it displays overall grades and stats from all courses. [CAN]
  • In the course-specific Grades, students can easily calculate hypothetical grades. [CAN]
  • Easily sort columns in one click by due date or assignment group. [CAN]
  • Message students who haven’t submitted yet, scored less than or more/less than a certain criterion on an assignment.
  • Download submissions from the grades area. [CAN] [Bb]
  • View student submissions online. [CAN]
  • Student submissions are auto-stamped with students’ names in a downloaded files for you.[CAN]
  • Employ text or media comments to provide assessment feedback. [CAN]
  • Students can message instructor within the grade column. [CAN] [Bb]
  • The SpeedGrader tool displays submitted assignment, grading rubric, and media comment options all in one interface. [CAN]
  • Columns for Assignment groups are shaded, and appear at far right of Grades by default. [CAN]
  • Grade columns are automatically created for faculty as assignments and quizzes are created. [CAN] [Bb]


Rubrics Rubrics Rubrics help students to more clearly understand faculty expectations around assignments, particularly written or multimedia assignments.
  • Ease of use — drag feature to add columns. Click to add a criterion. [CAN]
  • Ability to add media comments and integration with SpeedGrader interface. [CAN]
  • You can always override the grade the rubric produces. [CAN] [Bb]


Groups    Collaboration Collaboration provides a location within the LMS for students to participate in group activities. Online collaboration is a 21st Century skill that many of our students need to master.  Collaboration eases the set up and organization of group activities.
  • Automatically connects students for collaborative activities. [CAN]
  • Uses a variety of web-based applications such as GoogleDocs and EtherPad. [CAN]


No Equivalent SpeedGrader The Speed Grader is tied to each Assignment, Test, graded Topic or other Assignment. This is a very flexible tool that allows faculty to grade more quickly using rubrics, but still add comments in written and multimedia formats.
  • Grade all submissions for an Assignment quickly in one place. Grade tests too–you can provide unique feedback to individual questions, even for multiple choice tests. [CAN]
  • iPad app is available for the SpeedGrader. [CAN]
  • Record audio and video feedback for each student assignment. [CAN]
  • Sort students in various ways so that you work on them alphabetically, or by submission date, or anonymously (their names can be hidden from the teacher), or by whether or not they’ve submitted the assignment. [CAN] [Bb]


Notifications Dashboard
Notifications (under Profile, at top right when you first log in) Notifications allows students and faculty designate how they want to be communicated with and/or updated on course changes ouside of Canvas or Blackboard, and how often that communication should occur.
  • Receive notifications via email. [CAN] {Bb]
  • Receive notifications via text messaging and social networks. [CAN]
  • Designate the frequency of alerts. [CAN]


No Equivalent Outcomes The Outcomes area is used to ensure your course meets the required outcomes and learning objectives.
  • All Assignments can be connected to rubrics which then will appear in the SpeedGrader when you launch it to grade that Assignment. [CAN]
  • Outcomes reports to instructors and administrators.[CAN]
  • Learning outcomes can be created in the Outcomes section and added to rubrics’ criteria. [CAN]


Tests/Quizzes (Test Manager, Test Canvas)  Quizzes The Assessment function of a learning management system (LMS) that allows instructors to create and administer exams within the LMS.
  • A quiz can either be associated with an assignment group or by itself. [CAN] [Bb]
  • All quiz options are on the same page as you are creating the quiz. [CAN] [Bb]
  • You can hide the Quiz navigation area from students altogether via Settings and post your quizzes in modules you build if you wish. [CAN] [Bb]
  • Quizzes must be “published” for students to take them. [CAN] [Bb]
  • Respondus software is built into LMS and can be used to create and upload tests, surveys, and question pools; as well as to extract them from another LMS. The Respondus software can be used to create and upload tests, surveys, and question pools; as well as to extract them from Blackboard or another LMS and then upload them into Canvas. The Respondus software can be used to create and upload tests, surveys, and question pools; as well as to extract them from Blackboard or another LMS and then upload them into Canvas. {CAN]


Syllabus Syllabus The Syllabus allows you to import the paper version of your course syllabus into your Canvas or Blackboard course.
  • Connected to course calendar. [CAN]
  • Provides organizational view of course based on assignment and quiz due dates. [CAN]
  • Syllabus is an interactive document directly linked to assignments, quizzes, grades, calendar, etc. [CAN]
  • Syllabus can be created with media, links to outside websites and documents directly embedded in it.[CAN]
  • The Syllabus area also includes an automatically generated table of assignments and quizzes. [CAN]


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