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Canvas vs. Moodle

Tips for professors and students


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Chris Lancaster works a San Jose City
College, Cabrillo, and San Jose State.
When it comes to platforms, he has used:
Moodle, Angel, WebCT, Blackboard, Desire-to-
Learn – D2L, and Canvas.
Q. How good are you with computers?
A. “I’m not technophobic. I’ve been using
computers since I was five years old and I had a
hard time with Moodle. It is ugly. It is HTML.”
Q. Top 3 favorite things about
Moodle?
A. “That’s hard. I don’t know that
there’s really anything about Moodle
that I liked … We had to pay to host
somewhere … So it looks like it’s
free, but it’s not actually free … We
actually got funding from the state,
for all of the community colleges to switch to
Canvas.”
Q. Was that a particular bond or measure?
A. “I don’t know … it is an initiative by the
state to get all the colleges to switch over and use
the same thing.”
Q. Top 5 things that you like about Canvas?
A. “I like a lot. It has a lot of things that Moodle
didn’t have or that were difficult in Moodle, that
are easy in Canvas.
There is a lot more integration for setting up
group assignments … I can put a team name …
and I can put their members in there … and I can
set up a discussion page just for their group.”
Q. Are you talking front-end for the user or
backend for the professor?
A. “For both.
Setting up discussion boards in Moodle was
really difficult, and it is easy to do in canvas …
and it is (also) easy for students to figure out.
In Moodle, “For assignments, there was a
maximum point value you could enter … that was
set by IT.” In Canvas, “I set the maximum point
value for my assignments and nobody else sets
them.”
Q. Is there a Dashboard?
A. “Yeah! The Dashboard is Great! It lets you
see all your classes in one place in a way that lets
you customize. You can assign a color to each of
your classes, so it is easier to find them. Which
is kind of nice. That’s for both professors and
students.”
There is also an app! The
professors and students
can benefit that there is a
mobile app for it. Also, as an
instructor, it is easier for me
to send an announcement to
all of my students now.
Q. Can stuff get lost?
A. “No, there are no spam filters. Only people
in the system can send and receive messages, so
nothing gets lost.”
Q. How long does it take to enter all the
information for a class per class?
A. “For me, setting up a new class is not that
long. It took me an hour to set up the augmentation
class. The first time (ever) probably took 2 or 3
just trying to find things and where they are.
Of course, your instructor has to be good about
putting all your assignments into Canvas … . But
they can copy it.”
Q. Can it migrate from semester to semester
or do you have to load it every single time?
A. “I can export it to a file here at San Jose City
College, that I can upload to the Cabrillo one …
all the assignments, all the files, everything that
I put in is there.”
STUDENT TIPS!
Grades are easier to see. “It tells you what
your current percentage is. And as long as
your instructor is using a standard percentage
breakdown – 70% is a C – you can tell what you
are getting in the class; in that moment.”
Email is foolproof. “You can’t actually put
in the wrong email. You just click their name out
of the list.”\
Calendars. It “can send you reminders of
when assignments are coming. There would be a
square around the date to let you know.”
All Class To Do List. “If you have multiple
classes, you can see when all things are due for
all of your classes, in order.”
Notifications and Messages. “They
are all right there.”
Q. Is there a Dashboard for
students?
A. Yes, You can set favorites on that.
The trick with that is that you have to
change it every semester.
Q. Since I haven’t seen it, is it like Pandora
– nice looking?
A. “Sure. It is clean, and a lot nicer to look at.”
Q. Are there YouTube tutorials?
A. “Instructure, the company that makes it,
has online tutorials … and most colleges have
resources on campus to learn how to use it.”
Q. What kind of advice would you give to
calm fears?
A. Professors: “Ultimately, it’s going to be
better. It saves you time throughout the semester.
Spending a little more time at the beginning
saves you time throughout. You can grade right
in Canvas, leave comments on student’s papers
… without having to download anything and set
up a rubric … it is so much faster. That really is
my favorite thing about Canvas!”
A. Students: “It is more user-friendly than any
of the other systems. Once you figure out how
to click on a button it is so user-friendly …

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Canvas vs. Moodle