In a review on About.com’s education portal, “Distance Learning,” writer Jamie Littlefield commended Canvas’s integration with social media and easy-to-use design.
“Canvas Instructure's best attribute is its ability to convey information intuitively. Canvas Instructure makes it easy for students and instructors to navigate the well-designed site,” writes Littlefield. “The platform isn't without its faults. But, overall, Canvas Instructure simply feels better to use than most other online learning platforms.”
Littlefield gave Canvas a 4.5/5-star rating.
Despite Canvas’s streamlined experience and accessibility to both faculty and student users, there has been growing criticism over how USF is handling the transition between systems.
A large number of students, including sophomore psychology major Derek Andeara, have some classes that integrate Canvas and others that retain the Blackboard system.
“They just threw it on us. Either make all classes on it or keep Blackboard,” said Andeara. “Give us a tutorial on how to use it instead of just like ‘Here, figure it out yourself.’”
On the contrary, some students believe that a sudden switch would have been problematic.
“I think they are handling it well. I think if they switched to Canvas completely it would be way too confusing,” said sophomore Sarah Castro, who uses Canvas in her computers in business class.
“It helps a lot to have it in my computer class,” said Castro. “It would have been nice if they gave us more info, but lucky for me my professor said he would go over it.”
Mass communications professor Donovan Myrie recently came to USF from the University of Tampa and made the switch to Canvas this semester in all of his classes. Despite his eager adoption of the new system, he agrees that the switch could have been done better.
“It’s not easy. You’re basically talking about hundreds of professors, hundreds of classes being switched over. What’s interesting is that they’ve basically duplicated every class they have in Blackboard to Canvas, although they’re having problems. It’s real hit-and-miss,” said Myrie. “Nobody likes to spend extra money, but they really should have brought people in to have an intense Canvas training session.”
Even though differing opinions over the transition linger, many students and faculty agree that it was time for a new system to come in and replace Blackboard.
“I didn’t like my experience with Blackboard last semester,” said Myrie, before commenting on the cleanliness and accessibility of Canvas. “I think Canvas has learned from the mistakes of Blackboard and done their best to correct the mistakes.”
A technical comparison of the system and other LMS services (including Blackboard) can be found here.