Comparisons and advocacy

Canvas vs. Moodle

Picture of Peter Seaman
Re: Canvas vs. Moodle
Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Rick: Our experiences with the LMS are really similar - except for the resolution.

I started at a large US community college in 2006, which was using WebCT. Then, as you pointed out, BB bought WebCT and moved us to their own BB version of WebCT (they called it "Blackboard CT") which was unstable. Everyone hated it and there was a clamor to adopt a new LMS in 2009.

My college looked at BB, Moodle (provided by one of the Moodle partners at the time), and D2L. D2L won out and my college has been using it since 2010.

The problem I have now is that I'm *really* tired of D2L. As you point out, it's really tough to get any features added, and the interface really hasn't evolved at all. But the guy who administers D2L at my college loves it and doesn't want to change. I met with him recently and he said something about putting his foot down with D2L "and this time they're going to listen!" I thought, Good luck with that.

Do you, or do any of our loyal readers, have any suggestions about what to do when an administrator is deeply entrenched in an LMS and doesn't want to change? The contract with the vendor is up for renewal in a few years, and I would just like to be able to shop around a little, but I fear I won't be able to - administrators will be unwilling to ask the question, Would we be better off with another LMS. Thanks.

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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Canvas vs. Moodle
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

I don't know anything about D2L except that it sounded a lot like BlackBoard. So in a more generic sense, the questions I would be asking would be along the lines of: 

  • Is the LMS being used going to be within our future budgets?
  • What is their fee/charge model? How does that compare with other, similar tools?
  • Will changes we need for future development require an additional charge? 
  • What additional cost to customize existing tools if required?
  • What actual fees do we pay? 
  • Is there a support contract we are paying for?
  • Who owns the data? 
  • Does the LMS' supplier use our school data for their own purposes? e.g On-selling data? 
  • If we go to another LMS can we export courses easily? 
  • Do we have to budget for upgrading our infrastructure to meet the needs of this LMS?
  • Has customer support been sufficient to meet our need? 
  • Has the LMS supplier been responsive to a changing demand as we try to meet changing student need? 
  • Do we get regular updates offering new learning or improved tools? What kind of cost? 
  • Is there a clear upgrade and development path? 
  • Can we build learning plans and future targets around a roadmap for future development of the LMS?
  • Do our existing systems integrate with this LMS or can we work towards that integration?
  • Has the LMS been adaptable to changes in technology? e.g. cell phones
  • What is the current level of frustration of staff for the LMS? Satisfaction survey?
  • Can we develop inside this LMS so we can have a set of learning tools to meet our future needs?

Clearly this is not a comprehensive or complete list, but it might spur conversation. I suggest one area to explore is the future; costs, upgrades, development plans, responsiveness to changing external technologies, (e.g.cell phones are getting more an more sophisticated). Also, increasing pressure to adopt less traditional classroom practices is placing demands on any LMS, so how does D2L react to that? Moodle is incredibly flexible here, but is D2L? I don't know but these are some questions that could be asked, or be developed further or be a little less aggressive or more so if needed.  

The one advantage Moodle has over everything else is that it can not only be hosted by a Moodle Partner, but it can be self hosted with a high degree of competence by anyone who knows PHP, essentially, and even that is not an absolute requirement. As long as the Network admins are knowledgeable then there is really no reason anyone else needs to get involved at all.   

Good luck. 

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Picture of Rick Jerz
Re: Canvas vs. Moodle
Particularly helpful Moodlers

First, tell D2L that you are considering switching to Canvas.  D2L is losing its market to Canvas, so they need to get your message.

Then, if not successful, you might consider getting a faculty team to evaluate a switch to either Canvas or (and now include) Moodle.  This is procedural because most faculty don't know how to evaluate the difference, and it is too time involved.  So take your pick, then wine and dine these faculty (and administrators) to your preference.

If you are an administrator and end up with this stubborn supervisor, consider changing jobs.

If you are a teacher at this school, consider running Moodle on your own.

If you are looking for one major and important difference, you might want to collect a variety of syllabi and focus on grading.  Pick the LMS that can best satisfy all grading schemes.  If you are at a college with an engineering program, make sure to include syllabi (and grading schemes) for these engineering professors.

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