The primary tools in D2L and Canvas are similar — but Canvas is more user-friendly, with additional or streamlined features. This comparison will help orient you to the Canvas user interface.

Green boxes highlight interface elements, with arrows indicating how they change. On a few Canvas screenshots, red callouts indicate that course navigation changes slightly (or goes away).

You can explore these tools in more detail with your Canvas Sandbox. If you want to start experimenting, check out the Canvas Essentials page for tutorials.

The Home Page

The Canvas homepage is more flexible than in D2L – it can be formatted like a regular HTML page. The only “widget” used in the Canvas example below is for Recent Announcements at the top, the rest was added using the rich text editor. But you don’t have to create this from scratch – Canvas home pages are easily shared and added using Canvas Commons.

Canvas Course Navigation is also more flexible: items can be hidden when unused. In the example below, Quizzes are not in the navigation because they’re not used in the course.

d2l-home-with-callouts
D2L
Canvas sample home page
Canvas

Index Pages

Each content tool in Canvas has an Index Page. These are automatically-generated lists of each item you create with that tool (like the Manage [Activity] areas in D2L). There is an index page for Modules, Discussions, Quizzes, Announcements, Assignments, and Pages. Links to these can appear in the course navigation.

The Canvas Assignments index page lists any activity you create that will be graded, including discussions and quizzes. This gives students one index page that shows every graded task for the course.

Modules

Canvas modules are located in a Module Index Page. This is the equivalent of D2L’s Table of Contents. You can hide/show modules, add materials, reorder, nest, and set date or prerequisite conditions for them.

D2L
Canvas

The D2L Table of Contents = Canvas Modules index page.

Adding Content to Modules

This process is very similar to D2L, but the menus and options in Canvas are simpler. Media is added via URL or in a Page.

User interface to add content to a module in D2L
D2L
User interface to add content to a module in Canvas
Canvas

Adding module content in Canvas is similar to, but simpler than, in D2L.

Assignments

The Canvas Assignment index page automatically shows any graded activity, including quizzes and discussions. These can be grouped and given a percentage for weighted grading. This gives students one index page that shows every graded task for the course.

User interface to an assignment in D2L
D2L
User interface to add an assignment in Canvas
Canvas

Adding a score automatically puts a new assignment in the Assignment Index Page and Grades. Assignments are organized in Groups.

Assignments Index Page

The Canvas Assignment index page automatically shows any graded activity, including quizzes and discussions. These can be grouped and given a percentage for weighted grading. This gives students one index page that shows every graded task for the course.

D2L Manage Assignments page
D2L
Canvas Assignments index page
Canvas

All graded tasks are shown on one page. Assignment Groups make weighted grading easier to set up.

Discussions

In Canvas you don’t create a separate Forum and Topic, as in D2L. Discussions are ordered by most recent activity unless “pinned” in position. Graded Discussions automatically appear in the Assignments index page and Gradebook.

Discussions in D2L
D2L
Discussions in Canvas
Canvas

Creating a new discussion in Canvas is done in one step. Graded Discussions are added to Grades and Assignments.

Quizzes

Quiz question types in Canvas match those in D2L with some additional options. Question Library is called a Question Bank. Graded quizzes automatically appear in the Assignments index page and Gradebook.

Quizzes in D2L
D2L
Quizzes in Canvas
Canvas

Question types and banks are like those in D2L. Graded quizzes are included in the Assignment index page.

Grades

In Canvas the default display is spreadsheet-style. Individual view is by student. Grade items are automatically added to the Gradebook when you create a graded activity. Assignment Groups/weights also appear automatically.

D2L
Grades in Canvas
Canvas

Grades appear in spreadsheet or Individual view. Graded activities/groups are added automatically.

Submission Grading / SpeedGrader

The Canvas SpeedGrader tool is like the D2L assignment submission view. It shows any rubric used and has annotation tools for feedback. Navigation is from one student submission to the next.

Submission grading in D2L
D2L
SpeedGrader in Canvas
Canvas

SpeedGrader has inline annotations, scoring, and rubric access like the submission view in D2L.