Canvas LMS Pricing: Features, Costs and Top Learning Management System Alternatives

For a pricing comparison of popular vendors, check out our LMS Pricing Guide.

Canvas is a cloud-based, open-source learning management solution created by Instructure for educational institutions. Developed in 2011, Canvas is designed to better engage teachers and students in the learning process. Versions of Canvas are available for grades K-12 and for higher education institutions.

With Canvas, teachers also have access to Arc, an interactive video platform for online teaching and student participation. Arc serves as a video-as-a-learning tool within Canvas, where users can upload and share videos to a digital classroom, create conversations to comment on these videos and collaborate easily online.

We reviewed Canvas LMS in the past, but this post will focus on its pricing plans and prices of alternatives.

How Much Is Canvas?

Instructure doesn’t release pricing for Canvas. However, the cost to implement Canvas varies based on size, training, support and other factors.

Canvas charges a one-time implementation fee and an annual subscription fee based on an institution’s total number of users. Canvas offers a free account for teachers, as well as a two-week, free trial with full-feature functionality. The free teacher account doesn’t contain all the options available to paid Canvas users. Canvas also offers an open-source option for those who want to install it on their own servers instead of using Canvas’ cloud.

Organizations are asked to call Instructure for price quotes. But according to user-reported pricing data, reviewers have ranked Canvas in the 65th percentile for cost in the learning management system category.

Both the paid and the free-for-teacher versions have various features for courses, including:

  • Outcomes – Also known as standards or competencies, Outcomes describe what a learner should be able to do and are used to measure knowledge and ability.
  • Web conferencing – This tool sets a meeting time for the whole class or one-on-one synchronous online discussions.
  • Canvas on mobile – Native iOS and Android apps allow students to take an entire course from their mobile device.
  • Canvas Parent – This tool allows parents to engage with their child’s education by reviewing upcoming or past assignments, checking grades and receiving course announcements.

Top Alternatives to Canvas

Canvas can be used by educational institutions of all sizes, from individual classrooms to large universities. The platform offers core LMS functionality, including testing, course authoring, online gradebooks and integration with other teaching tools.

For educational institutions that want to compare prices, we’ve come up with three alternatives to Canvas:

NEO from Cypher Learning offers two pricing plans: Free and Premium.

  • Free plan – The free trial doesn’t expire. It offers many of NEO’s basic features and is intended for schools with up to 400 students. Some of its features include:
    • Unlimited teacher accounts
    • Tile-based dashboards
    • Compatibility with any device
  • Premium plan – The Enterprise plan is intended for schools with at least 500 students. Contact Cypher Learning for a quote. This plan includes all the features of the Free plan, plus a customizable portal, ad-hoc reporting, adaptive learning, learning paths, SIS integration, advanced content authoring features and Web conferencing integration.

MoodleCloud has a 45-day free trial that includes 200 users and 400 MB of storage. It includes features such as unlimited courses and activities, a personalized site name, webconferecing with BigBlueButton and a mobile app.

  • Starter plan – The Starter plan is intended for a single class, has greater technical functionality (e.g., custom certificate, automated backups and a document converter) and costs $80 per year. It accommodates up to 50 users.
  • Moodle for School is comprised of three separate paid plans:
    • The Mini plan costs $190 annually and is intended for up to 100 users. It offers 200 MB of file storage and includes two additional features: an advanced theme for the account and an extra plug-in pack.
    • The Small plan costs $380 annually and includes all the features in the Mini plan but accommodates up to 200 students and up to 400 MB of file upload storage.
    • The Medium plan costs $760 per year, includes all the features in the Mini plan while allowing up to 500 users, and offers up to 1 GB of file upload storage.

Schoology offers two pricing plans: Basic and Enterprise:

  • Basic – This free plan targets instructors, students, parents and advisors who want to improve learning at the classroom level. Its features let a user:
    • Develop, manage and distribute course materials
    • Communicate easily with students, parents and other educators
    • Facilitate online discussions
    • Record grades and attendance in an online gradebook
  • Enterprise – The Enterprise plan (contact the company for pricing) targets institutions that want one digital environment to connect all affiliated people, content and systems. Besides the features of the Basic plan, Enterprise lets users:
    • Manage system-level roles, privacy, permissions and grading scales
    • View system-wide analytics and extract data for sharing with third-party systems
    • Access Schoology’s open API for custom development

Takeaways

In the LMS market, Canvas gives teachers a platform they can use to produce the learning environment they want for their students. With Canvas, teachers can track their students’ progress as well as offer feedback. Canvas also offers an app that enables parents to be more engaged in their child’s education.

Canvas offers two free options for users. A two-week trial account includes built-in course content. An unlimited free account to which individual teachers can subscribe is also available. Schools with multiple teachers who want to use Canvas, however, must pay for the solution.

These schools will pay an implementation fee based on various factors, such as school size and any training or support that’s needed, along with a subscription fee that’s based on the number of users.

NEO’s Free plan offers an assortment of basic features and is intended for schools with up to 400 students. However, its more advanced features require a premium be paid.

The basic features of Schoology’s free account appeal to teachers, students and parents. Like NEO, Schoology’s more advanced accounts (and features) come with a cost.

Moodle users can upgrade their plans anytime, and they’ll only be charged the difference between their current plan and the new plan, prorated to their subsequent renewal dates. However, Moodle users can’t downgrade to lesser plans. And since the Moodle for School plans are only targeted for up to 500 users, it may not be a good fit for institutions that require solutions with more than 500 users.

These vendors aren’t the only LMS solutions on the market. Head over to our Reviews page for detailed reviews of over 45 LMS solutions. 

If you need more information on LMS solutions in general, our buyer’s guide can help. In it, we detail the benefits, features and what to look for when purchasing a solution. 

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