Canvas LMS - Pros & Cons

・11 min read
Canvas LMS - Pros & Cons

The dynamics of learning has changed over the last two decades. Since its introduction back in the 1990s, the Learning Management System (LMS) has become one of the most advanced ways of teaching and learning. A Learning Management System is an application designed for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs. An LMS makes up the largest segment of the learning system market.

Each year, we can observe changes in the trends in learning solutions. New ones emerge while some of the old die out. YOu can read about the 2021 trends in the post EdTech Trends To Watch In 2021. Canvas LMS by Instructure Inc. is the most popular among all LMS. Today, you will learn a detailed and comprehensive analysis of Canvas LMS and its pros and cons.

Let’s have a quick overview of the Canvas LMS.

What is Canvas LMS?

It is an open-sourced cloud-based application designed to empower both teachers and students by making an engaging learning environment available to them. It helps teachers to engage their students with video-based learning and collaboration tools, specially designed for higher education. Canvas LMS can also be used to develop eLearning modules for businesses. The LMS is available on both desktop and mobile devices. Canvas LMS offers easy-to-use and customizable teaching and learning experience.

According to a report published by Michael Feldstein on July 8 2018, Canvas took up 28% of the share of the US LMS market. It is one of the most noticeable LMS among the U.S. and Canadian higher education institutions. All the competitors, including Blackboard, Moodle, Sakai, Bright Space, Schoology, and others, are much behind in keeping their pace in the market.

Let’s talk about plenty of features that Canvas offers to its users.

Astounding Features of Canvas LMS

One of the best things about Canvas is its astounding list of features that no other LMS offers. We will review each feature in detail. To better understand the functionality, we have divided the features list into three parts. These are:

  1. Gather and organize learning
  2. Curate learning pathways
  3. Design learning experiences

Gather and Organize Learning

Canvas LMS is an excellent tool to organize learning. It is based on three main components, including a Dashboard, a high-level overview of top courses, and a Global navigation menu that provides access to the main features of the LMS. You can also see a sidebar that aggregates time-sensitive updates.

Let’s look at the features that come under gathering and organizing learning.

Canvas Commons

Canvas Common is another main highlight of the platform. It is a learning object repository where educators can supplement their classes with quizzes, modules, and courses. They can create discussions and documents in the repository. This feature provides educators with a fast track to course creation. Commons can also be used as a platform to share content within an institution. With this feature, individuals can create and share courses across a department, university, or in the case of a K-12, a school district, or a state.

The company has recently added a new option in the Commons feature called ePub. This feature helps students to download student-accessible course materials in a read-only state. The option, when enabled, can work for any ePub reader, including Apple iPad and Kindle Fire.

These are some of the best features of Canvas LMS. There are many other advantages to the platform. We have given you a glimpse of the Pros and Cons of Canvas LMS. It’s time to discuss them in detail.

Modules Feature

The best highlight of Canvas LMS is its Modules feature. This feature helps organize course content into units. Educators can stipulate prerequisites for modules in sequence. Students don’t see a course or unit until they unlock their prerequisites. For example, to access a second unit, a student needs to complete the first unit. The feature also helps to achieve much of what D2L Brightspace (Compare Prices at Software Advice) accomplishes with Release Conditions. However, Canvas LMS lacks an automated intervention system, which can be developed as a customer feature.

Outcomes Feature

The Outcome feature is designed to help institutions to assess student’s mastery. When combined with the grading titles which educators create themselves, the feature can be used to align courses and student assessments to standards. The Outcome feature may not excite the faculty, but it surely is a fresh breeze for administrators, particularly those who need to align courses at a K-12 level.

Curate Learning Pathways

Check out the details of the features that come under Curating learning pathways.

Quiz Feature

It is a feature that helps educators to take a quiz or assign an exam to any student if they require it at any place. Quizzes can be graded or ungraded, time-constraints, or self-paced, with long descriptive answers or multiple choices with true or false, etc.


Gradebook is a feature that helps educators and administrators to grade students based on their assignments. The Grades can be imported or exported manually as well as automatically in a CSV file through Student Information System integration. The platform remembers the preferences and routine actions of educators that can be performed with fewer clicks without going through the hassle of selecting, dragging, and dropping the assignments again and again.


SpeedGrader helps educators to preview and annotate submissions within the browser. Educators don’t need to download files and documents. Canvas offers support for all kinds of files may it be Google Docs, Microsoft Office, or PDFs. Educators can also add in-line annotations, such as highlights, text strikeouts, and freehand drawings within the files.

Design Learning Experiences

With Canvas LMS, students can design an exceptionally unique learning experience. Not only students get to be more organized, but teachers can create their own learning experience. They can learn more about what course outlines should be designed for students, what quizzes should be planned and what objectives should be achieved over a period. Here’s the features list.

Intuitive and User-Friendly Interface

Canvas LMS offers an intuitive and user-friendly interface. The apps are available for Windows, Linux, Android, iPhone/iPad, Mac, Web-based, and even Windows Mobile. The LMS cater for a wide range of customer types from a Freelancer to a Large Enterprise.

Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) Program

Canvas offers Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) that helps to integrate third-party tools with your course. You can also enhance the course with other Web applications and Internet resources. LTI is an IMS standard that makes Canvas better LMS than the others.

Many vendors offer tools that can be integrated with Canvas via LTI. You can check out the list of all the tools that are either integrated with Canvas or under review.

Let say, the tool you want to integrate with Canvas is already listed, it means the vendor has worked with UW-IT Academic Services and the UW-IT CISO to undergo a risk assessment, and complete the necessary data security and privacy documents. But, if the tool is not available in the list, then you can encourage the vendor to get enrolled in the LMS integration program or make a request.

Reliable Connectivity

Canvas LMS offers the best connectivity time with the lowest maintenance cost. The 99.99% uptime does not just happen. Canvas team makes sure they keep the functionality running for their user 24/7. Although Canvas is concurrently handling millions of users, with the integration of millions of courses every second. Still, the world's best LMS offers 99.99% uptime.

Prompt and Reliable Customer Support

Canvas offers support via Email, Phone, Live Chat, Training, and Ticket system. They are 24/7 available to solve issues and assist the user at any level. We found the customer support prompt and efficient.

Other Excellent Features

We have already defined some of the highlighted features of the platforms. It is time to get to know the complete list. Get ready here it comes.

  • Cloud-based open-source platform
  • Collaborative workspace
  • Integrated Learning Material
  • Web standard browser
  • LTI integrations
  • Open API
  • Record or upload Audio or video with audio or video messages
  • Content customization is available
  • Profile customization is available
  • Third-party tools integration with external services integration
  • Shared resources
  • Analytics
  • Web conferencing option available RSS support
  • Course notifications for Students
  • Mobile integration
  • Integrated media reporting
  • Open security
  • Canvas app center

Let’s check the reviews of people about the Canvas LMS and see what Pros and Cons, people have identified by using it.

Pros & Cons of Canvas LMS - Users Experience

We have gathered a list of reviews posted on the internet by the users about Canvas LMS experience. Based on these reviews here are the pros and cons by industry experts.

Graduate Teaching Assistant at Kansas State University

She rated the Canvas LMS 9 out of 10.

Here’re some pros and cons based on her experience.


  • It organizes students' grades in a timely manner.
  • It gives students notifications about upcoming assignments.


  • The notification feature could be improved upon as the professor has to put the due date as "midnight" otherwise the assignment will be automatically erased from the platform.
  • The audio recording feature has its technical issues. I have never been able to use it correctly.

Owner of Health, Wellness and Fitness Business

She rated Canvas LMS 10 out of 10.

Here’re some pros and cons based on her experience.


  • Organization.
  • Communication with professors.
  • Hosting online materials.


  • If you send a message to a teacher, there is no record of the message until they write back.
  • The Zoom features are confusing.
  • Not all of the teachers are as tech-savvy as the students. This is a user error, but more training would be helpful.

Distance Education Instructional Coordinator at Arizona Western College

He rated Canvas LMS 9 out of 10.

Here’re the pros and cons based on his experience.


  • Creating different course sections with effective course design.
  • Creating assessments and learning measures tools.


  • Work on third-party application integration especially browsers compatibility.
  • Make more cost affordable for schools and Universities especially for those interested to switch from higher-cost LMS

Assistant Professor at Central Washington University

He rated Canvas LMS 10 out of 10.

As per his experience, these are the pros and cons he witnessed while using Canvas LMS.


  • Canvas is extremely flexible. I think that is both its greatest strength and perhaps a bit of a weakness.
  • Canvas is getting better at allowing instructors to duplicate individual assignments. That's a big improvement.
  • Canvas integrates well with Crocodoc for online paper commenting and grading.
  • Canvas has great import functions.


  • It would be great if we could deal with multiple assignments at a time.
  • Better visibility of how students see a course would also be helpful.
  • Searching for rubrics is really bad. The rubrics from the current course should default to the top. As it now works, the user has to search through every course ever taught to find a rubric.

Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life for Marketing and Communications and Technology at Ball State University

He rated Canvas LMS 9 out of 10.

He experienced the following pros and cons.


  • User experience
  • Organization and ability to create a course
  • I love the modules function


  • Its compatibility with Banner
  • The speed grader could be improved
  • Extra credit assignment feature would be nice

To read more reviews about Canvas LMS, you can check out the post How To Launch An EdTech Startup.

Bottom Line

Since the price is not transparent and we do not have any hard numbers, which we can evaluate for the features it offers. If we talk about the worth of money you spend on Canvas, it would be hard for us to comment on it. Overall, performance and listed features, without a doubt, it is one of the best LMS available in the market. Its popularity has rapidly grown among the higher-education institutions in the USA and Canada.

For those inexperienced with Canvas LMS development, outsourcing is a perfect solution. With Selleo teams you can build your eLearning platform with digital learning experts.