Blackboard vs. Canvas

This semester has allowed me to learn more about learning management systems. In transferring two courses from Canvas to Blackboard, I was able to experience firsthand how courses are built and learn more about the pros and cons of each learning management system.

Both Canvas and Blackboard have an intuitive user interface, making it simple for an instructional designer to figure out how to build a course on the platform. Combining my knowledge of working in Blackboard as a student with other real-world experiences and standard user interface conventions, I was able to quickly figure out how to set up the course in Blackboard and transfer course content from Canvas to Blackboard.

Now that I’ve finished and know a little more about each LMS, however, I’m a bit surprised that the assignment was to transfer the courses from Canvas to Blackboard, as I would much rather build/experience the course in Canvas. Like Microsoft Word, Blackboard tends to create HTML that is more complex than it needs to be:

messyHTML

So I found it necessary to go into Canvas’ HTML Editor to grab the simpler HTML and copy that into Blackboard’s HTML Editor:

cleanerHTML

In addition, Canvas offers the ability to link directly to another page in the course.

insertcontent

For example, you can reference an assignment drop box and link directly to that drop box. (Blackboard does not have that capability.)

Another thing I like about Canvas is that it automatically makes hyperlinks open in a new window.  Blackboard requires you to select that option for every link.

openinnew

Small useful functions like this add up.

Looking at some news articles, it looks like I’m not alone in my thinking. Although Blackboard is still the market leader, its share of the market continues to decrease, and according to this article, the University of Texas is one of the institutions phasing out Blackboard in favor of Canvas.

There is always room for improvement, however. Neither LMS offered the ability to search course content or the ability to view all text in the course at once. In editing the course content, I had to make the same fix in several different modules, and clicking through each module to get to each point was tedious. There were also times when I could not remember the exact locale of a certain link or resource. The ability to search all course content would have saved me a great deal of time.

For more information on the differences and similarities between Blackboard and Canvas, check out this page.