Canvas/Blackboard Feature Comparison

In the broadest terms, Canvas is designed to deliver a simple, transparent, and consistent online learning experience for students. Blackboard emphasizes instructor control and customization. This contrast is reflected in the facts that Canvas (a) allows students to access areas by default that Blackboard hides by default or calls for more clicks to find, (b) standardizes navigation menus across the courses, (c) organizes content in a more extended, less hierarchical style for quicker access, and (d) allows access to the same course content differently in several tools so students can choose the view they prefer. The table below compares and contrasts features in Canvas and Blackboard Learn 9.1 and links to relevant articles from Canvas Community.

Click the icon links to read more in Canvas Guides.
Blackboard
Canvas
How Canvas is Different
Global Functionality Notifications Notifications Notifications Canvas can send notifications via text and mobile app push (in addition to Emory email) with varied frequencies. Canvas does not yet allow notification frequency to vary by course.
Messages Send Email Inbox (Conversations) All messages in Canvas are centralized and stored in the conversations inbox and sent via notifications. Canvas users can reply directly to notification emails.
Course Messages
Calendar Calendar Calendar Drag and drop functionality makes it easy to add or change due dates and event times. Assignment shells can be created from the calendar.
Appointments N/A Scheduler Instructors can provision appointment blocks for individuals and groups directly through the calendar.
Media Recording N/A Record Media Canvas allows users to record audio and video to embed in pages, posts, messages, and even grade feedback.
Live Support N/A Help Instructure provides round-the-clock help to users via phone, email, and chat.
Course Functionality Release Course Make Available Publish Course The option to publish a course in Canvas is on its home page (not deep in customization settings).
Navigation Menu Course Menu Course Navigation Canvas course navigation links have the same name in every course. Instructors may hide links.
Course Chronology N/A Syllabus Syllabus automatically displays all course events and graded assignments in a chronological list view. It makes a great home page.
Content Organization Content Areas Modules Instructors lay out all course content in one place grouped by units or weeks with optional scheduled release or prerequisites to view later materials.
Rich Content Content Item Pages Pages are always versioned in Canvas and may be used as the course home page. Attachments are easily linked inline using Content Selector.
Blank Page
Document Preview N/A Document Preview Canvas allows in-browser viewing of document types browsers typically do not display. Instructors can set previews to open automatically.
File Storage Store & Share Files Files uploaded in a course are open to students by default. Instructors may restrict access to some or all files.
Enrollments Users People Instructors can views student activity reports, total time in course.
Groups Groups Groups Groups can be accessed from the universal navigation menu.
Communication Tools Announcements Announcements Announcements Canvas models announcements on discussions, allowing students to reply.
Discussions Discussion Board Discussions Instructors can grade, pin, and close threads. Canvas posts replies to notification emails back to subscribed threads.
Chat Room Chat Chat Each course has a text-only chat room that keeps a history and does not require a Java plug-in.
Lecture & Screen Share Virtual Classroom Conferences Instructors can share audio, webcam video, live-annotated documents, and their computer screens. Only screen share requires Java.
Assignments and Grading Assignments Assignments Assignments Assignment shells are easily created from modules, calendar, or the assignment tool. The assignments tool shows graded discussions and quizzes, as well.
Peer Assessment Self and Peer Assessments Canvas assignments allow Peer Review of submissions, including anonymous, automatic-matching, and manual-matching options.
Weighted Categories Grade Center Instructors can make assignment groups used to weight the final grade through the Assignments tool.
Score Offline Work Instructors make assignments in Canvas for work submitted on paper, then enter scores and comments in Grades.
Score Online Work Grade Assignment SpeedGrader Instructors easily review and annotate submissions from the assignment or grades tools.
Student Grade Book My Grades Grades Students can see how future assignments would affect their final grade with What-If grades.
Plagiarism Check SafeAssign N/A Canvas does not have built-in plagiarism checking.
Scoring Rubric Rubrics Rubrics Canvas allows criteria ratings scales to vary in number of increments.
Objective Assessments Tests Quizzes Moderating quizzes is easy and works even for ongoing attempts.
Surveys Surveys Anonymous surveys deployed quickly, graded or ungraded.
Collaboration Tools Blogging Blogs N/A Canvas does not have built-in blogging. Assignments are a great way to collect student journal entries. Emory’s ScholarBlogs is a great platform for course blogs.
Journals
Collaborative Editing Wikis Pages Pages become wikis when editing is allowed for teachers and students.
Collaborations Collaborations creates a Google Doc for selected students to edit.