Unanswered Questions about Canvas


  1. Canvas if being described as a “next-generation” LMS. What are the attributes of a “next-generation” LMS?
  2. If SSU switches to Canvas, what criteria will be used to assess whether the choice was a success?
  3. According to the Status of LMS usage in the CSU, two campuses have switched from Moodle to Canvas.
    • How did they assess whether the switch was successful?
  4. The SSU pilot of Canvas includes 16 classes with a total of 400 students for one semester (avg. class size of 25). These smaller class sizes are not representative of the class sizes in the Business Department. Our larger classes (without TAs) means we rely on different assessment tools. Faculty with large classes rely on Moodle quizzes.
    • Does the SSU Faculty Center have the expertise to evaluate whether the quiz features in Moodle will be available in Canvas? The most flexible Moodle question type (“cloze”) was not being promoted by the Faculty Center and is not available in Canvas.
    • Many of the Major features/functional gaps in Canvas identified by Stanford are for larger classes that use quizzes for assessment.
    • SSU should use the log files of Moodle to determine which activities are being used and whether these activities are supported by Canvas.
    • Given our reliance on quizzes, one of our faculty members, Elizabeth Stanny, has volunteered to provide free training and support on
      • importing multiple choice quiz questions into Moodle from any text file (Word, GoogleDocs etc)
      • using r-exams, a powerful tool to generate written exams (in pdf, word, html, etc), online quizzes in Moodle and questions for live voting software using one file. This tool is not compatible with Canvas.


  1. There isn’t any information on the lms.sonoma.edu website about the relative costs of Canvas vs. Moodle.
  2. What are the costs of a third party hosting Moodle versus Canvas. What are the terms of any contract?
    • Contract price?
      • fixed parts?
      • variable parts?
    • Does price per campus for Canvas depend on other CSU campuses also adopting it?
    • Contract length?


  1. Canvas is commercial software owned by the public company, Instructure

    • Instructure is in dire financial condition (updated to reflect 2017 results)
      • For every $1 of revenue it has 53 cents of Sales and Marketing expense
      • For every $1 of revenue it loses 31 cents
    • Instructure’s strategy is to its increase market share at any cost
  2. Given Instructure’s large expenditures on Sales and Marketing are there any potential conflicts of interest with Canvas Instructure that have not been disclosed? For example,

    • Consulting fees?
    • Any upfront discounts or payments for adoption?
    • The community colleges received financial support to switch to Canvas. Is there similar support being offered to SSU from CSU? or from Canvas?
    • Why are CSU campuses that adopt Canvas in bold in the Status of LMS usage in the CSU?