Best Canvas LMS Alternatives 2021

Canvas LMS is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that allows schools and businesses to provide users with an engaging learning experience. It includes many features, such as mobile learning, content delivery, unlimited file size, SpeedGrader (adding grades to a gradebook), and audio, video and chat collaboration tools.

Although Canvas LMS has robust features, it doesn’t have built-in gamification functionality, but it does integrate with third-party gamification tools. It also doesn’t provide pricing details, so you’ll have to contact the vendor for a custom quote.

While Canvas LMS offers a solution for businesses, the focus of this post is its main target market: K-12 and higher education institutions. If you’re looking to compare Canvas LMS with other LMS software, here are five alternatives.

Best Canvas LMS Alternatives

About Canvas LMS

Instructure is a software provider focusing on dynamic learning management systems that streamline teaching tasks for various settings. One of those systems is Canvas LMS, which was created for educational institutions to better engage users in the teaching and learning processes

Instructure has an integrated and inclusive video platform for online teaching called Canvas Studio where students can easily upload and share videos to a digital classroom, as well as let students and instructors comment on videos to create conversations.

Canvas can also be integrated with third-party solutions such as Microsoft Teams, Google Assignments and Discovery Education.

Pros

Canvas Studio, a new-generation tool that makes educational videos more collaborative.

Cons

Doesn’t have built-in gamification features, but can integrate with third-party tools that allow gamification.

Bottom Line

An LMS created for educational institutions, Canvas was designed to better engage users in the teaching and learning processes.

Pricing

Canvas offers a free account for educators, even if their school isn’t a Canvas customer. However, it doesn’t contain all the options available to paid Canvas users, such as a calendar scheduler, Slack notifications and the ability to post grades to a Student Information System (SIS). The free teacher account also accommodates students and parents.

Educational institutions that want to purchase a subscription to Canvas will need to contact Instructure directly for a quote.

Canvas Alternatives #1: NEO (Cypher Learning)

NEO is a learning management system (LMS) that’s targeted to the education sector, both K-12 and higher education. It’s a cloud-based platform that’s accessible on all devices including PCs, tablets, and iOS, Android and Windows smartphones. NEO is even available as a mobile app with full functionality.

Pros

Many features available in free plan, accessibility from all devices, easy implementation process.

Cons

Not intended for businesses.

Bottom Line

Cloud-based platform for schools with many features designed to help teachers and students maximize learning.

Pricing

NEO offers an unlimited free trial that accommodates up to 400 students. It includes many basic features of NEO, such as:

  • Dashboards for students, teachers and administrators
  • Custom logo
  • Activity feed
  • Templates for class content and materials
  • Content authoring tools
  • Supports instructor-led, self-led and blended courses
  • Gamification
  • Six assignment types (quizzes, freeform, offline, Dropbox, surveys and attendance)
  • Ability to grade assignments
  • Integration with Google Workspace, Microsoft OneDrive and Amazon Alexa
  • Parent-oriented accounts
  • Unlimited storage
  • Collaboration and social networking tools
  • Ability to import and export accounts in bulk

There’s also the paid Premium plan that includes all of the features of the free plan, plus:

  • Customizable portal/URL
  • Ad-hoc reporting
  • Adaptive learning
  • Learning paths
  • SIS integration
  • SCORM, LTI, and Turnitin
  • Advanced content authoring features
  • Web conferencing integration

The Premium plan requires a minimum purchase of 500 accounts. NEO doesn’t publicly display pricing information, so contact the vendor directly for a quote.

Canvas Alternatives #2: Moodle

Moodle is an open-source learning management platform designed to help schools educate their students. Moodle is based on a modular design that lets teachers and administrators build their own curriculum using plug-ins for various workflows, content and activities.

Users have a choice of either installing their Moodle account on their servers or in the cloud. The cloud-based platform, called MoodleCloud, provides several benefits, such as accessibility anytime, scalability and a very short implementation process.

Pros

Flexible deployment options, teachers can choose their own content and activities, dedicated Moodle mobile app.

Cons

MoodleCloud plans only accommodate up to 1,000 users, some users said the interface isn’t always intuitive.

Bottom Line

Open-source platform with a modular design for teachers to build their own curriculum.

Pricing

Moodle is open-source software, so its code is free for developers to download. MoodleCloud has a 45-day free trial that includes 1,000 users and 5 GB of storage.

There are five pricing tiers that include all the features of Moodle, such as unlimited courses and activities, a mobile app, a personalized site name, session recording and web conferencing with BigBlueButton. Pricing is in U.S. currency.

  • Starter: $120 per year for 50 users and 250 MB of storage
  • Mini: $210 per year for 100 users and 500 MB of storage
  • Small: $380 per year for 200 users and 1 GB of storage
  • Medium: $840 per year for 500 users and 2.5 GB of storage
  • Large: $1,490 per year for 1,000 users and 5 GB of storage

Organizations with over 1,000 users should contact a Moodle Partner for a quote.

Canvas Alternatives #3: TalentLMS

TalentLMS is a cloud-based learning management system that helps small and mid-size businesses provide learners with training programs. Administrators can build a public homepage and customize their portal to include branding, such as logos, colors and a custom domain.

Because the software sits on a multitenant architecture, companies can develop separate learning portals (“branching”) with their own courses, users and branding. One of TalentLMS’s target markets is educational institutions.

Pros

Blended learning functionality with automated notification system, ability to track course metrics via infographics, instructors can easily create and deliver learning content.

Cons

Live chat support only available in the Premium tier.

Bottom Line

Robust LMS that helps small and mid-size businesses provide training to their employees, customers and partners.

Pricing

TalentLMS has two separate plans: Standard and Active. The Standard plan is based on the total registered number of users, which can’t go over the limit. The Active plan includes active users (e.g., trainers, administrators), but supports an unlimited number of registered users (e.g., learners). Each paid tier is billed annually.

The Standard plan has a free tier that supports up to five users and 10 courses, and includes unlimited email support for no charge. The five additional tiers are: Starter (up to 40 users for $59 per month), Basic (up to 100 users for $129 per month), Plus (up to 500 users for $249 per month), Premium (up to 1,000 users for $429 per month) and Enterprise (over 1,000 users for a custom price quote).

The Active plan has five tiers: Starter Active (up to 40 active users for $129 per month, plus an extra $4 for each additional active user), Basic Active (up to 100 users for $239 per month, plus an extra $4 for each additional active user), Plus Active (up to 250 active users for $349 per month, plus an extra $3 for each additional active user), Premium Active (up to 500 active users for $479 per month, plus an extra $3 for each additional active user) and Enterprise (over 500 active users for a custom quote).

Canvas Alternatives #4: Google Classroom

One of the biggest benefits of Google Classroom is it’s simple to use and encourages collaboration between students and teachers. Teachers can create a class and list apps and assignments in a few clicks. They can add students by name or send them a code to join. Students can then see what assignments are due, participate in discussion forums or message the teacher (either in private or via group chat).

Pros

Strong collaborative focus, easy to set up classes and assignments, virtual classes with Google Meet.

Cons

Accounts for parents aren’t offered.

Bottom Line

Learning management solution intended for schools in virtual or hybrid environments.

Pricing

The Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals platform is free for qualifying institutions and includes features such as Google collaboration tools (e.g., Docs, Sheets, Slides), communication tools (e.g., Meet, Gmail, Chat), data loss prevention for Google Drive and Gmail, and compliance with GDPR, FERPA and COPPA.

There are three paid plans:

  • Google Workspace for Education Standard – This plan costs $3 per student, per year and includes all of the features of the Fundamentals platform, plus a security center, advanced device and app management features, Gmail and Classroom logs for export into BigQuery, and audit logs.
  • Teaching and Learning Upgrade – This plan costs $4 per license, per month and includes all of the features of the Google Workspace for Education Standard, plus advanced Google Meet features (e.g., meetings with up to 250 participants, interactive Q&As, breakout rooms), unlimited originality reports and the ability to check for peer matches across a private repository.
  • Google Workspace for Education Plus – This plan costs $5 per student, per year and includes all of the features of the other plans, plus livestreams with up to 100,000 in-domain viewers, syncing rosters from SISs to Google Classroom, personalized cloud search and prioritized support.

Canvas Alternatives #5: Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is part of the Office 365 for Education product suite that allows teachers to deliver online learning to their students. Teachers can set up virtual classrooms and create, send, track and grade assignments and tests. Students can complete their work, access their grades and engage in conversations.

Microsoft Teams integrates with other Office apps (e.g., Word, OneNote, PowerPoint) and third-party software (e.g., Flipgrid, Turnitin, MakeCode), so students and teachers won’t need to use multiple solutions.

Pros

Remote access to coursework for students, ability for teachers to create and grade assignments, variety of collaboration features included.

Cons

Not intended for corporate training.

Bottom Line

Collaboration tool that helps teachers deliver virtual learning to their students.

Pricing

Microsoft Teams is one of the products offered under Office 365 for Education, which has three pricing plans.

  • Office 365 A1 – This plan is free for students, teachers and staff, and includes Office apps like Teams, Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, SharePoint and School Data Sync.
  • Office 365 A3 – This plan costs $2.50 per user, per month for students ($3.25 per user, per month for teachers and staff) and has all of the features of the A1 plan, plus Access and Publisher (on PC only), the ability to install the Office desktop apps on up to five PCs/Macs per user, and the ability to install the Office apps on up to five tablets/phones per user.
  • Office 365 A5 – This plan costs $6 per user, per month for students ($8 per user, per month for teachers and staff) and has all of the features of the A3 plan, plus intelligent security management, advanced compliance and analytics functionality.

Conclusion

Canvas LMS has strong features for schools, but some features like gamification require integration with a third-party software. If you’re looking for built-in gamification, this feature is available in NEO’s free plan and as a plug-in in Moodle.

On the other hand, if you want to compare pricing among the different vendors, MoodleCloud, TalentLMS, Google Workspace and Microsoft Teams display prices on their respective sites.

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