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D2L to Canvas Comparison

The primary tools in D2L and Canvas are similar — but Canvas is more user-friendly, with additional or streamlined features. This comparison will help orient you to the Canvas user interface.

Light blue boxes highlight interface elements, with arrows indicating how they change. Red callouts indicate that course navigation changes slightly (or goes away).

You can explore these tools in more detail with your Canvas Sandbox and in our hands on training course, Growing with Canvas.

The Home Page

The Canvas homepage is more flexible than in D2L – it can be formatted like a regular HTML page using the rich text editor. But you don’t have to create this from scratch – Canvas home pages are easily shared with others in your department, university, and even the public using Canvas Commons. We took this screen shot from the UofM Canvas template. This template is available for all courses and will make new course creation much faster.

Canvas Course Navigation is also more flexible: items can be hidden when unused. We recommend limiting how many naviagation options you give students. In the example below, Quizzes are not in the navigation because they’re not used in the course.

D2L Homepage canvas homepage

Index Pages

Each content tool in Canvas has an Index Page. These are automatically-generated lists of each item you create with that tool (like the Manage [Activity] areas in D2L). There is an index page for Modules, Discussions, Quizzes, Announcements, Assignments, and Pages. Links to these can appear in the course navigation.
 
The Canvas Assignments index page lists any activity you create that will be graded, including discussions and quizzes. This gives students one index page that shows every graded task for the course.

Modules

Canvas modules are located in a Module Index Page. This is the equivalent of D2L’s Table of Contents. You can hide/show modules, add materials, reorder, nest, and set date or prerequisite conditions for them.

 The D2L Table of Contents = Canvas Modules index page.

D2L Add ModuleCanvas Add Module


Adding Content to Modules

This process is very similar to D2L, but the menus and options in Canvas are simpler. Media is added via URL link or in a Page. Adding module content in Canvas is similar to, but simpler than, in D2L.

D2L Add ContentCanvas Add Content

Assignments

The Canvas Assignment index page automatically shows any graded activity, including quizzes and discussions. These can be grouped and given a percentage for weighted grading. This gives students one index page that shows every graded task for the course.

Adding a score automatically puts a new assignment in the Assignment Index Page and Grades. Assignments are organized in Groups.

D2L Assignments Canvas Assignments

Assignments Index Page

The Canvas Assignment index page automatically shows any graded activity, including quizzes and discussions. These can be grouped and given a percentage for weighted grading. This gives students one index page that shows every graded task for the course.

All graded tasks are shown on one page. Assignment Groups make weighted grading easier to set up.

D2L Assignment Page Canvas Assignment Page

Discussions

In Canvas you don’t create a separate Forum and Topic, as in D2L. Discussions are ordered by most recent activity unless “pinned” in position. Graded Discussions automatically appear in the Assignments index page and Gradebook.

Creating a new discussion in Canvas is done in one step. Graded Discussions are added to Grades and Assignments.

D2L Discussions Canvas Discussions

Quizzes

Canvas has the same quiz type options as D2L and more. The biggest difference is that what was called a "Question Library" is now called a "Question Bank" in Canvas. Like all graded items, graded quizzes automatically appear in the Assignments index page and Gradebook.

D2L Quiz Canvas Quiz

Grades

In Canvas the default display is spreadsheet-style. Individual view is by student. Grade items are automatically added to the Gradebook when you create a graded activity. Assignment Groups/weights also appear automatically.

D2L Grades Canvas Grades

Submission Grading / SpeedGrader

The Canvas SpeedGrader tool is like the D2L assignment submission view. It shows any rubric used and has annotation tools for feedback. Navigation is from one student submission to the next. SpeedGrader has inline annotations, scoring, and rubric access like the submission view in D2L.

Grading in D2L Grading in Canvas

 

Adapted from “D2L and Canvas: Tool Comparison", licensed CC BY 4.0 by the Office of Academic Innovation, Portland State University.