Blackboard-to-Canvas Comparison

Here are some of the key comparisons between Canvas and Blackboard:

Tool/Function Blackboard Canvas Description
Accessibility Tools Ally Ally and native Accessibility checker

The Rich Content Editor in Canvas includes an accessibility tool that checks common accessibility errors within the editor. This tool helps you design course content while considering accessibility attributes and is located in the Rich Content Editor menu bar.

This tool only verifies content created within the Rich Content Editor.

Ally, which is integrated with Blackboard, will also be available in Canvas. 

Announcements Announcements Announcements

In Canvas, instructors can allow students to reply to announcements. An "allow liking" feature allows users to "like" an announcement reply. 

Announcements are shown on a separate page as in Blackboard, but only the first line of the message shows (student must click on the announcement to view the entire message).

Appointments   Scheduler

Scheduler is a Calendar tool in Canvas that creates appointment groups within a course or group. Students can sign up for a time slot within the appointment group. 


Assessments Tests Quizzes Tests and quizzes are grouped under "Quizzes" in Canvas. Canvas offers Quiz types of "Practice Quiz," "Graded Quiz," "Ungraded Survey," and "Graded Survey." Just as in Blackboard, quizzes can be easily uploaded through Respondus and you can use question groups (pools).
Assignments Assignments Assignments Assignments can be accessed through several areas of the course: Assignments, Calendar, or Modules. Assignment types include "No Submission," "Online," "On Paper," or "External Tool". Instructors can limit the file types they will accept.
Attendance Attendance tool Roll Call Attendance The Attendance tool appears as a visible Course Navigation link, but it cannot be viewed by students. If instructors do not want to use the Attendance tool in their courses, no action is required. However, if you do use the Attendance tool, students can view their attendance report through the Roll Call Attendance submission details page.
Blogging Blogs/Journals   Canvas does not have a native blog or journal tool. Journals can be created through the Assignments tool and blogs can be developed using the Discussion area or a third-party tool.
Calendar Calendar Calendar The Calendar spans all courses and displays information for each enrolled course and group. The Calendar automatically syncs due dates in the course. If you create, change or delete the due date of an Assignment, the Calendar will reflect this change. Within the Calendar page, you can change dates easily by dragging and dropping assignments from one day to another.
Chat room   Chat The Chat tool in Canvas allows students and teachers to interact in real time. Chat rooms can be saved for future use.
Collaborative Spaces   Collaborations Allows students to use Google Docs for online collaborations
Collaborative Spaces Wikis Pages All pages created in Canvas are potential Wikis; an instructor can give students editing rights to a page and can return to an older version of the page if student changes need to be reversed.
Communications Email Inbox (Conversations) The Inbox is a place for course-related messages that are located within Canvas and are also sent to user email. 
Content Organization Content Areas Modules Courses are uniformly laid out with a linear module structure based on Pages. Modules are used to organize course content by weeks, units, or whatever organizational structure works for your course. The content can use releases or prerequisites to monitor student work.
Course Chronology   Syllabus The Syllabus area automatically generates a list of assignments and due dates throughout the course based on Assignments and Events within a course. 
Discussions Discussion Board Discussions

Discussions can be threaded or unthreaded. “Needs Grading” status is set after 1 post. There is no Anonymous, Force Moderation or Rating, and there is no subject line.

Document Preview   Document Preview Instructors have the option to set document preview to open automatically for students in the course. Preview will open many file options; .doc, .docx, .ppt, .zip, .pdf, .odt. It can handle large documents up to 100MB and 999 pages
Enrollments Users People With the people function, instructors can view the course roster. The People page also shows the last activity of each student and total activity (time spent in course). Enrollments are automatically updated through Banner. 
E-Portfolio   Eportfolios Users can build an unlimited number of ePortfolios in which to collect and document their educational projects, submissions, experiences, and other work products. Users can keep ePortfolios private or share with other students, instructors, and/or future employers.
File Storage Content Collection Files (Canvas Commons) Files can house course files, assignments, syllabi, readings, or other documents, as well as profile pictures and user-specific files. Instructors can lock folders and files so they can only be viewed by direct links or only unlock on a specific date. Canvas Commons can be used to store files used by multiple people or departments.
Gradebook Grade Center Grades

The Gradebook helps instructors easily view and enter grades for students. Depending on the Grade display type, grades for each assignment can be viewed as points, percentage, complete or incomplete, GPA scale, or letter grade.

Only graded assignments, graded discussions, graded quizzes, and graded surveys that have been published in the course display in the Gradebook. 

Students can figure out hypothetical "what-if" grades.

Sort columns easily by due date or assignment category. Late student submissions are highlighted in red.

Grading  Grade Assignment/Box Speedgrader

The Canvas SpeedGrader provides tools to comment, highlight, mark through text, or draw on a paper. Instructors can also add audio or video feedback for the student or incorporate rubrics into Outcomes and Learning Mastery paths. Rubrics can be attached to assignments and used with SpeedGrader.

Groups Groups Groups 

Groups can be created and easily maintained in a single navigation menu.  Group discussions are gradable in Canvas with a single gradebook column. Announcements, files, collaborations, conferences, and discussions are enabled in each group. Discussions can be assigned to all groups at one time

Navigation Menu Course Menu Course Navigation Canvas provides a consistent Menu and naming convention for all courses. An instructor can show or hide links for the needs of his or her course.
Notifications Notifications Notifications Canvas users are responsible for choosing their way of receiving different types of Canvas notifications. For different categories, users can choose to be notified immediately, daily, weekly, or not at all. 
Open Course Make Available Publish Course

The Publish Course button is conveniently located on each course's Home Page; after students submit assignments, this button disappears.

As with Blackboard, all courses will be automatically made available the first day of classes. If an instructor wants to make it available early, the Publish Course button can be used. 

Peer Assessments Self and Peer assessments Assignments Canvas has a function for assigning peer reviews which can automatically match students or allow the instructor to manually match students
Rich Content Editor Content Item/Blank Page Pages Canvas pages are adaptable to many individual styles using the robust tool section in the editing panel. Pages also allow in-course linking and drag and drop attachments from the sidebar.
Rubrics Rubrics Rubrics Canvas Rubrics provides a variety of rating scales and can pull in Outcomes from the departments, intuitions or course level outcomes.
Student View of a Course Student Preview Student View

Student View allows instructors to upload materials, take quizzes, and navigate the course as a "test student."The test student will appear in the Gradebook for assessment when instructors leave Student View.

Surveys Surveys Ungraded or Graded Surveys (Quizzes) Ungraded or graded surveys (types of "Quizzes") can be deployed easily within a Canvas course. Also, instructors have the option of making both graded and ungraded surveys anonymous.