hy do learning providers often come after flexible and content-rich LMSs? Besides saving time and effort, they want to create the best learning journey for their learners and team.
And, Canvas is for sure one such platform, offering reliability, organization, and assignment diversity. Yet, as the educational landscape evolves, so do the demands for a more streamlined and user-friendly Canvas alternative.
In this article, we’ll explore the LMS’s issues and talk about Canvas competitors that are much more intuitive or offer flexible solutions for your online learning affairs.
Overview: Should you look for a Canvas alternative?
Let’s start with what Canvas is praised for.
Canvas is an open-source learning management system that allows creators, institutions, and businesses to create diverse and content-rich online courses and programs.
In 2021, more than 30% of higher education institutions in North America implemented Canvas for the learning provision.
What makes it so popular, then? One can explain it with the price, powerful options, organization, and opportunities under the open-code system. Its main benefits are:
- Solid structure for any course (thanks to advanced architecture with multiple levels that can add to the organization of complex courses).
- Diverse and advanced course creation settings and options (because of editing tools and sounding integrations, like BigBlueButton).
- Multiple assignments and decent reporting (many assignment types and proper reporting and grading system).
Reasons to consider Canvas competitors
However, with all the variety, comes complexity and limitations. Many Canvas users underline the following issues:
- It is hard to use and understand. The variety of content options and the open-source system affect the system’s usability. Users complain a lot about its non-intuitiveness and the confusion course development brings. Unless you are code-savvy, you will have a pretty steep learning curve.
- Lack of customization and branding options. For many higher education actors, it may not be a big deal. In contrast, for corporate actors, knowledge businesses, and academies, the ability to customize the learning space is crucial. And Canvas is pretty basic in terms of customization.
- No community features. Even though Canvas provides exciting engagement features, it lacks tools for creating an effective space for a community.
- Limited in-built management options. With so many functions and complicated structure, setting the flow may be difficult without proper management and automation.
💡Highlight: Canvas brings great organization and course creation options, yet, its outdated design, complexity, and limitations regarding customization and automation can be a concern for business actors and creators.
Best Alternatives to Canvas with Flexibility and Course Development in Mind
- #1. EducateMe: Best Canvas alternative with solid features and intuitive design
- #2. Tovuti LMS: Decent LMS with strong content management
- #3. LearnWorlds: Comprehensive Canvas alternative that helps to sell courses
The main advantages of Canvas lie within the options and opportunities it provides for building a diverse learning experience. Thus, we decided to start with the alternatives that have similar capacity for complex courses and are more flexible and straightforward than Canvas.
#1. EducateMe: Best Canvas Alternative With Solid Features and Intuitive Design
EducateMe is the best Canvas alternative due to its simplicity, flexibility, and focus on seamless management. Its architecture allows ease of use, collaboration, and adaptability. Unlike Canvas, EducateMe offers a far more intuitive interface and streamlined flow, while its content options are not less diverse and efficient.
Simultaneously, it has excellent tools for proper collaboration: a built-in messenger, peer review options, and convenient Zoom setups. That way, it is pretty efficient in the organization of the learning process, allowing you to focus on learning experiences rather than scheduling tasks and managing students.
💡EducateMe is a fast-growing startup that puts flexibility and support at the center of business cooperation, allowing better alignment with the organization’s learning needs.
Distinctive features of this Canvas alternative:
- Easy-to-use editor. Like Canvas, it offers variety and strong editing features. You can use different content formats, embed links, and integrate collaborative spaces like Figma or Google Docs. Its AI tool is very useful for setting preliminary structure.
- Advanced management tools. The LMS allows better control over the tasks thanks to an assignment tracking tool, unified dashboard, calendar backed by automation, and solid tag system.
- White label options. There is a large room for customization, involving the change of colors, shapes, fonts, and domain name.
- Integrations. The support for integrations is on-point as well, allowing seamless usage of Slack, Notion, Figma, and Loom.
Pricing: 14-day trial, Starter plan is $2.5 per learner (minimum commitment of 100$ for 40 learners), Enterprise Plan is for learning providers with more than 500 students.
Best for: progressive businesses and academies, seeking a flexible solution for collaborative or social learning.
Further reading: How Projector Institute Uses EducateMe (Case Study)
#2. Tovuti LMS: Solid LMS with Strong Content Management
TovutiLMS is another alternative solution, offering powerful content management capacity backed by interactive formats, gamification, and engagement tools.
Importantly, there are 40-50 types of content and activities for course creation, including quizzes and videos. It also has an AI tool and supports SCORM and AICC formats. Among other things, Tovuti brings decent engagement tools referring to the discussion dashboard, survey tools, and basic session recording management.
For some, this LMS can be a bit non-intuitive or challenging to navigate due to design. However, it is still smoother and less complex than Canvas.
Interesting features of this Canvas alternative:
- Checklist feature. A convenient list that instructional designers can use to map out the learning journey for the students.
- Decent management tools. Learning providers can leave notes on how a student takes the learning journey while reporting features are standard.
- E-commerce support. Within some plans, Tovuti allows e-commerce tools that help with course selling by managing subscriptions or creating promo codes. That can be great for the academies. Yet, it is not even close to what Kajabi or Teachable offer.
- Branding options. Tovuti offers basic white-label options regarding customization.
Pricing: there is No Free Plan. The Pro Plan starts at $11.160/year (for up to 50 users), and Lite Plan prices start at $199/mo (up to 50 users, unlimited courses), whereas the highest plan there costs $399/mo, the special Professional Plan is available via call.
Best for: for academies, corporate actors, and institutions that value content or rely on self-paced learning.
#3. LearnWorlds: Comprehensive Canvas Alternative That Helps to Sell Courses
LearnWorlds is an all-in-one platform that helps to create and sell courses. Similar to Canvas, it strikes with a diversity of learning activities and content options, from interactive videos to e-books and audio.
Even though the email marketing options are pretty basic, LearnWorlds offers robust sales and marketing support. With it, you can create landing pages via templates and develop funnels.
Notably, just like Tovuti or Canvas, its interface is not the most intuitive. Another disadvantage is a lack of solid engagement tools, making it more of CMS, and not LMS.
Important features of this Canvas alternative:
- Mobile app. The LMS provides a mobile app that students can use can.
- Video editor. LearnWorlds allows you to modify uploaded videos and add additional elements there, like questions, tests, or images.
- Certificates of knowledge. Instructional designers can issue PDF certificates with this platform.
Pricing: there is a Free Plan; The Starter Plan costs $29/mo, the Learning Center Plan is $299/mo, and the High Volume Plan can be negotiated via a call.
Best for: for course creators and businesses, that want to sell self-paced courses, due to the lack of powerful engagement tools.
Straightforward sites Like Canvas with Focus on Assignments and Intuitive design
- #4. Google Classroom: The most straightforward alternative for online classrooms
- #5. Blackboard Learn: Uncomplicated Canvas alternative with clear functions
- #6. Schoology: Decent LMS for classroom management
Another approach to finding the right software to use instead of Canvas is to focus on simple and efficient solutions. For sure, such a strategy only works if your specific needs align with the software. Let’s check another group of apps like Canvas:
#4. Google Classroom: The Most Straightforward Alternative for Online Classrooms
Even though Google Classroom is quite limited as an LMS, its focus on assignment management, simple and clear design, and collaboration opportunities make it a decent alternative to Canvas.
To create an assignment, you need just several clicks. Its course editor is quite simple, while the course development depends on integrations with other Google Apps, like Google Docs, Drawings, and Forms. Also, it has a basic engagement capacity due to thread-like space and Google Meet integration.
That way, if you rely on Google Suite, it offers you great opportunities for collaboration. However, compared to other Google LMS competitors, Google Classroom is more of a single tool and lacks management and strong reporting features.
Exciting features of this Canvas alternative:
- Strong collaboration. Thanks to a unified system, there is advanced integration with Google Docs, allowing live collaboration within documents and files placed on the cloud.
- Grading tab. There is a separate space for grade management, making it convenient for assignments.
Pricing: free for teachers and educational organizations, advanced options are available upon the contact with support.
Best for: teachers and institutions that seek simple solutions and good assignment management; businesses relying on Google Suite.
Further reading: Google Classroom vs Canvas LMS
#5. Blackboard Learn: Uncomplicated Canvas Alternative with Clear Functions
Just like Google LMS, Blackboard Learn is an intuitive platform that offers simple yet effective course creature features. However, it looks more like an LMS. Due to its simplicity, it is widely used by teachers and schools.
It has an extremely flexible assignment builder. For instance, you can add calculated, multiple-choice, essay questions or create a pool of questions. At the same time, it offers some engagement features: a thread-like discussion feature, messages, and space for announcements.
This platform also offers a mobile app and good reporting for better monitoring of grades and student performance. However, it may be clunky and has some limitations in terms of content upload and flexibility in management.
Decent management tools of this Canvas Alternative:
- Activity stream. It is a separate space on the dashboard that allows tracking activities within the course and might be helpful as an addition to the calendar.
- Course schedule. For each course, you can add a schedule to remind learners of the lectures and events.
- Group management. Similar to EducateMe, there is an option to create groups for better collaborative learning.
Pricing: 30-day free trial; pricing is available upon the contact with sales.
Best for: schools, universities, and businesses to handle classroom management, training, and onboarding.
#6. Schoology: Decent LMS for Classroom Management
Schoology is one more LMS solution for classroom administration, offering solid features for planning the course and delivering content. It is intuitive, but if comparing Schoology vs Canvas functionality, the platform is much less advanced.
It offers solid course creation capacity with a basic editor backed by AI support and useful integrations, in particular, OneDrive and Google Apps. Schoology offers decent reporting and engagement features that can help you set the right workflow. Also, the instructors can benefit from the mobile app and progressive grading system.
The major downturns refer to outdated design and lack of customization and management tools.
Excellent features of this Canvas alternative:
- Workload planning. Even though it is available only to Enterprise Plan users, this feature allows learners and instructors to see all the tasks to be done and map out the learning journey.
- Reporting features. Schoology brings useful reporting features, making it easier to perceive data on students.
- Grading system. The platform has multiple features for grading that simplify the assessment of tasks.
Pricing: Free Plan and Advanced Plans are available after you contact sales.
Best for: educational organizations with a need for online classrooms; onboarding within small or middle-sized firms; nonprofit educational projects.
Open-source Canvas competitors with advanced features
- #7. Moodle LMS: Well-rounded LMS with diverse features
- #8. Open edX: Customizable Canvas alternative for advanced courses
As Canvas is not the only open-access LMS on the market, we could not ignore its main competitors. Both are not easy to use due to multiple solutions, course customization options, and complexity. At the same time, each product can surprise you with some of its functionality.
#7. Moodle LMS: Well-rounded LMS with Diverse Features
Moodle is a well-rounded LMS that offers diverse and rich features for course creation due to its structure, advanced settings, and editing options. How do they differ, Moodle vs Canvas? Moodle brings more advanced settings and assignments.
Its main benefits are decent LMS features, like reporting, and the variety it offers (20+ content formats). In particular, with Moodle, you can upload e-books, create learning paths, add a glossary, start a discussion, or create a forum.
Moreover, there is a progressive assignment editor with a question bank and question types. Nevertheless, just like Canvas, it lacks an intuitive design, while its advanced settings affect the learning curve of the user and can be difficult to implement.
Decent features of this Canvas alternative:
- In-bulk editing. With so many content options, the in-bulk editing helps to develop and scale programs and courses faster.
- Customizable dashboard. You can add various spaces to the main dashboard and that way customize the management of the course.
- Embedded plugins. Moodle has a catalog of different integrations, bringing diversity to course development. Many of them are pre-built plugins, like BigBlue Button.
Pricing: Free Trial; MoodleCloud pricing starts with the Starter Plan ($120/year for 50 users and 250MB storage), the highest plan is the Standard Plan (1,700 users and 5 GB storage). The Premium Phlan pricing is available upon request.
Best for: small companies (under the Starter Plan); or schools, academies, and training departments of middle and large organizations that have a separate instructional design department.
Further reading: Google Classroom vs Moodle
#8. Open edX: Customizable Canvas Alternative for Advanced Courses
Open edX is an open-source LMS that allows advanced course customization due to extensive content, architecture, and ability to use raw code.
Thanks to its X-block system, one can develop courses with custom code blocks. Besides, its engagement tools are on point as well, while the open code nature allows powerful embedment opportunities. Due to such a system, the learning programs can be highly customizable.
Open edX was co-founded by two educational organizations: Harvard and MIT.
Out of all Canvas competitors, Open edX is complex and difficult to set up and manage, especially for users who are not code-savvy. Nevertheless, it offers decent support via forums, chats, and service partners.
Powerful features of this Canvas alternative:
- Content studio: More than 20 types of content to be included, including various formats like SCORM and LTI.
- Management tools. The platform has a multilevel structure to support managing and scaling courses, from content administration and reporting to handling exams and communication.
- Gamification. There is also an opportunity to add elements to make learning more entertaining.
Pricing: Free; unless you need help from Open edX partners on creating courses.
Best for: medium and large organizations or institutions that have enough resources and specific learning needs.
Alternatives to Canvas for Corporate Learning or Onboarding
- #9. Talent LMS: Platform suitable for training and onboarding
- #10. D2L Brightspace: Handy alternative for organization’s training
Lastly, educational institutions are not the only users of Canvas. A plethora of corporate actors implement it for various purposes, including upskilling and onboarding.
Thus, one should consider some excellent Canvas alternatives for the development of employee's skills and knowledge.
More insights: Best corporate LMS
#9. Talent LMS: Platform suitable for training and onboarding
Unlike other apps like Canvas in this list, TalentLMS is a solid training solution for businesses and organizations. TalentLMS puts ease of use in the center and provides the necessary functionality for training and onboarding.
In particular, there’s a simple editor supporting in-bulk editing and important formats like SCORM files, multimedia, and assignments. It also provides decent reporting, including downloadable reports, training matrix, and infographics. To streamline the flow, one can use its standard automation tools.
Yet, despite offering certificates, many features, especially engagement tools, are rather basic or limited.
Interesting features of this Canvas alternative:
- Intuitive dashboard. The LMS offers a dashboard from where you can access all features and see the main data on learners' activities.
- Group and branch management. The platform allows sorting different groups via sub-accounts within the main account. That way, it is efficient for large organizations.
- Course store. This LMS offers a subscription-based library, from which you can buy courses and add them to your space.
Pricing: free trial (5 users); Start Plan is $89/mo (up to 40 users and unlimited courses); Premium Plan is $569/mo (highest plan offering up to 1,000 users and 15 branches); Enterprise Plan is available upon contact with sales). Businesses can pay for active users as well.
Best for: corporate actors and training agencies requiring simple solutions for courses and onboarding.
#10. D2L Brightspace: Handy Alternative for Organization’s Training
D2L Brightspace is an easy-to-use LMS for creating courses within organizations, offering crucial content tools and decent gamification. Before all, the platform is intuitive enough and mobile-friendly despite that the design is a bit outdated.
The content editor is pretty good, offering vital integrations with Google Disc and OneDrive, and allows uploading SCORM files. Besides, an instructor can create videos with a in-built recorder. At the same time, it also offers basic assignments, automation, and discussion options.
However, this platform may lack engagement and management tools and has a far less advanced structure.
Crucial features of this Canvas Alternative
- Convenient dashboard. It brings a customizable dashboard, where you have a place for announcements.
- Decent gamification. There is a separate place to create and edit awards that can be provided to learners. It also offers certificates and leaderboards.
Pricing: Free Plan; more advanced plans are available upon contact with sales.
Best for: training organizations and medium companies that offer upskilling, onboarding and training sessions
Verdict on alternatives to Canvas: What LMS to go for?
Sure, Canvas stands out for its organizational capabilities and diverse course creation options. Yet, its limitations and issues tell us about the need for a more streamlined and user-friendly alternative.
What is the right choice? It will depend on the learning needs and preferences:
- For those prioritizing simplicity, flexibility, and collaborative learning, EducateMe emerges as the top choice.
- Tovuti LMS and LearnWorlds can suit institutions valuing content options in course provision, where LearnwWorlds will be the better LMS for self-paced courses.
- For those looking for straightforward alternatives to Canvas: there are Google Classroom, Blackboard Learn, and Schoology, each excelling in assignment management and classroom administration.
- Moodle LMS and Open edX are true Canvas competitors bringing more diverse and advanced features, yet, having very similar issues.
- Talent LMS and D2L Brightspace are the proper solutions for corporate training.