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Moodle vs Canvas: Which LMS is better in 2024?

Sanju Kumari
2 May 2024
17 min read
Moodle vs Canvas: Which LMS is better in 2024?

For educational organizations and corporations, picking the right Learning Management System (LMS) is crucial. Moodle and Canvas are two popular LMSs used widely by millions of users worldwide. Moodle is known for being open-source, meaning it's really flexible and can be customized a lot. Canvas, on the other hand, is loved for its easy-to-use interface and mobile-friendly features. 

Now comes the big question: Which one is better? 

Through this article, let’s first understand both of them individually and then compare them to see which one might be the best option for you. Let’s get started. 

What is Moodle?

Moodle is a free and open-source Learning Management System (LMS). It serves as a versatile platform for creating personalized learning environments. To do so, it offers a wide range of features and tools. 

Let’s have a look at the top 10 most popular features:

  1. Course management

  • Moodle allows for easy management of courses
  • It allows for creating, customizing, and organizing course content. 
  • Also, it can be integrated with student information systems.
  1. User management

  • Moodle provides tools for managing users, including:
  • Enrollment
  • Permissions, and
  • User profiles
  • It supports role-based access control
  1. Course content management

  • Moodle offers features for creating, uploading, and managing course materials.
  • It supports all forms of such materials, such as:
  • Documents
  • Videos, and
  • Interactive activities
  • It has a text editor and modern accessibility tools
  1. Communication and collaboration tools

  • Moodle allows for seamless collaboration between students and instructors.
  • It offers these tools:
  • Discussion forums
  • Chat rooms
  • Messaging
  1. Assessment and grading

  • Moodle provides a range of assessment tools, like:
  • Quizzes
  • Surveys, and
  • Assignments
  • These tools allow instructors to give feedback and grades
  1. Personalized learning

  • Moodle supports the creation of personalized learning paths
  • It offers features like competency frameworks and learning plans
  1. Gamification

  • Moodle allows instructors to gamify courses
  • It provides for using elements like:
  • Badges
  • Leaderboards, and
  • Interactive games
  1. Analytics and Reporting

  • Moodle offers analytics and reporting features
  • These help in tracking students:
  • Progress
  • Engagement, and
  • Course performance
  1. Mobile app

  • Moodle has a mobile app that allows students to:
  • Access course content
  • Submit assignments, and
  • Participate in activities on the go
  1. Extensibility
  • Moodle has a large ecosystem of over 2,000 open-source plugins
  • These help in extending its functionality.

The key strength

One of Moodle's key strengths is its ability to support various teaching and learning methodologies, including:

  • Blended learning
  • Distance education, and
  • Flipped classrooms

This flexibility allows educators to design courses that align with their pedagogical goals. Furthermore, Moodle offers:

  • Multilingual capabilities
  • Extensive documentation and support resources

This offering makes Moodle accessible to users from diverse linguistic backgrounds. Moreover, Moodle is valued for its simplicity and flexibility.

Moodle’s programming language

It is pertinent to note that Moodle is written in PHP programming language. It is distributed under the GNU General Public License. This implies that Moodle can be:

  • Freely used
  • Modified
  • Distributed by anyone

This open-source nature has contributed to Moodle's widespread adoption in schools, universities, workplaces, and various sectors worldwide.

Moodle is free, but who supports it?

Moodle is supported by Moodle Pty Ltd, a company that provides commercial services and support for the platform. Additionally, there is a vibrant open-source community of:

  • Developers
  • Educators
  • Users

They contribute to the ongoing development and improvement of Moodle. This community-driven approach ensures that Moodle remains:

  • Up-to-date
  • Reliable, and
  • Well-supported.

Is Canva compatible with Moodle? 

Yes, Canva is compatible with Moodle. “Canva for Education” integrates with core classroom tools, including Moodle. This integration allows users to connect Canva with their Moodle accounts. Canva’s compatibility allows educators and students to enhance their Moodle courses with visually engaging content created using Canva's design tools.

For detailed steps and self-help guides on integrating Canva with Moodle, you can refer to the official user manual here

Why is Moodle so popular?

Moodle is the world's most popular LMS. It has nearly 213 million users across various sectors. Often, Moodle is a preferred choice for organizations and institutions looking to implement a Learning Management System (LMS). Let’s see some of the major advantages that make it so popular:

  • Open-source and cost-effective

  • Moodle is an open-source platform 
  • It offers a significant advantage in terms of cost-effectiveness
  • Organizations can use and modify the software without any licensing fees
  • This benefit makes it an attractive option for institutions with limited budgets
  • Additionally, Moodle does not require any vendor lock-in, that provides flexibility
  • User-friendly and accessible
  • Moodle prioritizes user experience
  • It provides an intuitive interface that is easy to navigate 
  • Its user-friendly design:
  • Minimizes the learning curve
  • Allows users to quickly adapt to the platform
  • Usually, Moodle users are able to focus on the teaching and learning process rather than struggling with technical complexities.
  • Highly customizable and extensible

  • Moodle's open-source nature supports extensive customization
  • It can be integrated with other tools and systems
  • Using several plugins and extensions, users can tailor the platform to suit their specific needs and requirements. 
  • This flexibility allows organizations to create personalized learning environments 
  • Widespread adoption and community support
  • Moodle boasts a large and diverse user base
  • It has millions of users worldwide across various sectors, including:
  • Education
  • Corporate training
  • Government, and
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • This widespread adoption has led to the development of a vibrant community of developers and educators
  • This active community ensures that Moodle remains up-to-date and keeps on evolving
  • Robust features and functionality
  • Moodle offers a comprehensive suite of features and tools for:
  • Course management
  • Content creation
  • Communication
  • Assessment, and
  • Analytics
  • This rich set of capabilities allows for effective teaching and learning experiences.
  • Being versatile, Moodle is often the first choice from K–12 schools and universities to corporate training programs.

What are the disadvantages of using Moodle? 

One of its major disadvantages is that Moodle cannot be fully optimized for handling very large-scale projects. It can experience performance issues in:

  • Larger educational institutions or
  • Organizations with a high volume of users, such as
  • Universities or
  • Multinational corporations

Some common performance issues associated with Moodle are slowdowns during peak usage times or occasional system shutdowns. Usually, these issues disrupt the learning experience and impact productivity. Furthermore, Moodle faces the following challenges:

  • Making customizations requires technical knowledge

  • Implementing customizations in Moodle is challenging for users without:
  • Programming knowledge or
  • Coding skills
  • Modifying the platform's functionality or appearance requires technical expertise.
  • This acts as a barrier for educators or administrators who are not familiar with programming languages or web development.
  • Supports only limited multimedia formats
  • Moodle lacks native support for certain multimedia formats, like:
  • SMIL XML and
  • MPEG7,
  • This limitation restricts the deployment of interactive multimedia learning materials.

What is Canvas LMS?

Canvas is a web-based learning management system (LMS). It is designed to facilitate teaching and learning across various educational settings and the business world. This LMS offers a range of features and integrations that support the development and administration of course websites. Some popular features are:

  • Content management
  • Interactive assessments
  • Discussion forums
  • Blogs, and
  • Learning analytics

Moreover, Canvas is a popular choice among institutions and educators. It is known for its: 

  • User-friendly interface
  • Reliability
  • Security, and
  • Educator-loved features

How popular is canvas LMS? 

As per some recent statistics, Canvas LMS has a market share of 2.38% in the learning management systems market, with its top competitor, Moodle, having an 8.79% market share. 

Also, Canvas LMS is used by over 3,000 universities, school districts, and institutions around the world. It is the choice of the world's best colleges and universities, including the top 10 institutions in the U.S.

Why is Canvas a good LMS? 

Canvas is a powerful and versatile LMS. It allows for creating engaging and blended learning experiences. Let’s have a look at some of its key advantages:

  • User-Friendly Interface
  • Canvas prioritizes usability with an intuitive interface.
  • It makes it easy for both educators and students to navigate the platform
  • Also, this user-friendly design reduces the learning curve 
  • Course Management
  • Educators get comprehensive tools to create, customize, and manage courses.
  • Canvas supports the integration of:
  • Multimedia content
  • Assignments
  • Quizzes, and
  • Discussions
  • This allows educators to design engaging and interactive learning experiences 
  • Mobile Accessibility
  • Thanks to Canvas's mobile accessibility, students can access course materials and participate in discussions from any device
  • This flexibility enhances:
  • Student engagement and
  • Learning outcomes
  • Collaboration Tools

  • Canvas promotes community-building within online learning environments
  • It offers collaboration tools such as:
  • Discussion boards
  • Group assignments, and
  • Real-time chat
  • These features help in:
  • Facilitating interaction among students and instructors
  • Promoting peer learning
  • Creating a sense of belonging in virtual classrooms.
  • Assessment and Grading
  • Canvas streamlines the assessment process with:
  • Customizable quizzes
  • Assignments, and
  • Grading features
  • Tools like rubrics and SpeedGrader make it easier for instructors to assess student work and provide timely feedback
  • Integration Capabilities
  • Canvas offers seamless integration with a wide range of third-party tools and applications
  • It allows institutions to enhance the learning experience with resources such as:
  • Google Drive
  • Microsoft Office 365, and
  • Various educational apps.
  • This interoperability enhances the platform's versatility.
  • Accessibility and Compliance

  • Canvas is designed to prioritize accessibility
  • It duly complies with standards such as:
  • WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines)
  • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, 1973
  • The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)

Moodle vs Canvas | Which LMS Software Wins In 2024? 

Moodle and Canvas are popular LMSs used by millions of users worldwide. Determining which LMS software "wins" between them depends on the specific needs and preferences of the users. For your better understanding, let’s perform a comparative analysis on several broad parameters:

I) Customization and Flexibility

Moodle (winner)

  • Known for its high degree of customization, Moodle allows users to tailor the platform to their specific needs through:
  • Themes
  • Plugins, and
  • Extensions.

Canvas

  • While Canvas also offers customization options, it has limitations compared to Moodle in terms of flexibility.

II) User Interface and Ease of Use

Canvas (winner)

  • Praised for its intuitive and user-friendly interface, Canvas is designed to be:
  • Highly accessible and
  • Easy to navigate for both educators and students.

Moodle

  • While Moodle has improved its user interface over the years, some users find it less intuitive compared to Canvas.

III) Mobile Accessibility

Canvas (winner)

  • Canvas offers strong mobile accessibility
  • It has dedicated mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices
  • This allows students and educators to:
  • Access course materials and
  • Participate in activities on the go.

Moodle

  • Moodle also provides some level of mobile accessibility
  • Also, the user experience varies depending on:
  • Specific implementation and
  • Customization of the platform.

IV) Community and Support

Moodle (winner)

  • Moodle is supported by a large and active open-source community
  • It provides a wealth of:
  • Resources
  • Forums, and
  • User-generated content for support and collaboration.

Canvas

  • Backed by Instructure, the company behind the platform, Canvas offers dedicated customer support.
  • It also offers training resources for users.

V) Cost and Licensing

Moodle (winner)

  • As an open-source platform, Moodle is free to download and use
  • There are no licensing fees.
  • However, organizations may incur costs for:
  • Hosting
  • Customization, and
  • Support.

Canvas

  • Canvas requires a subscription or licensing fee based on:
  • The number of users or
  • Institution size
  • It certainly involves upfront costs, but hosting, support, and updates are included as a part of the package.   

Conclusion

Moodle and Canvas are powerful Learning Management Systems (LMSs) with strengths and advantages. In the comparison between Moodle and Canvas for 2024, Moodle emerges as the winner in terms of customization and flexibility, thanks to its open-source nature and the availability of several plugins. However, Canvas excels in user interface and ease of use, mobile accessibility, and dedicated customer support. 

The choice between Moodle and Canvas ultimately depends on the specific needs, preferences, and priorities of the users. Organizations seeking extensive customization and flexibility can prefer Moodle, while those prioritizing user-friendly design and robust support can opt for Canvas. Regardless of the choice, both platforms have the capacity to enhance online learning experiences for educators and students. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1) Is Moodle really free?

Yes, Moodle is free to download and use. It's an open-source platform, meaning there are no licensing fees involved.

2. What is Moodle best for?

Moodle is best for creating personalized learning environments. It's ideal for educators and institutions looking to:

  • Manage courses
  • Assess student progress
  • Facilitate communication, and
  • Customize learning content to meet specific teaching goals. 

Additionally, it supports various teaching and learning methodologies. This makes it suitable for diverse educational settings and training programs.

3. What are some examples of institutions that use Canvas?

Canvas LMS is used by several major institutions in the United States, such as

  • Arizona State University
  • Broward County Public Schools
  • Penn State University
  • Southern University
  • California Community Colleges, and many more

4. How does Canvas LMS support online collaboration among students?

Canvas LMS provides several collaboration features and tools, such as:

  • Canvas allows students to create and share documents using Microsoft Office 365 applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
  • Canvas includes robust discussion board features that facilitate online discussions and exchanges of ideas among students
  • The Conferences tool in Canvas enables video conferencing capabilities
  • Canvas provides a built-in Peer Review tool that enables students to anonymously or non-anonymously review and provide feedback on each other's work.
Sanju Kumari

Sanju has a wealth of experience and expertise in instructional design, bringing innovative ideas and a fresh perspective to e-learning content development. She is passionate about merging technology and creativity for dynamic e-learning. Her passion for creating engaging and effective learning experiences aligns perfectly with Calibr's commitment to excellence. She also enjoys writing about e-learning trends in the corporate world.