I pride myself on being platform agnostic. I have taught in each of these platforms and run the tech end of some parts of Blackboard and all of Desire2learn. So informally I can say, they are all great platforms and in the end it will come down to a personal preference. I have not had negative feeling towards using any of them, so I think you are in good shape. That said advice:
Blackboard is the bigger player in the industry. That means you will find far more options from publishers of what is available and easy to port into the system. It will be more plug and play for your teachers and you will probably find that many of them already have “blackboard ready” content such as quiz and test banks etc. Blackboard also for us (check your contract) handles its own technical support, which means I almost never have an unresolvable problem. Blackboard web-conferencing can be hit or miss though. they have acquired several platforms under their collaborate umbrella and they do not always play nicely together or on a variety of devices.
Canvas is the up and comer. It has most of the same features, but not much more in terms of innovations. Its strength is the improved teacher UI. Porting into it can be a slightly bigger challenge than blackboard simply because the preformatted content which is canvas friendly is less available. That said, from a teaching perspective the layout and ease of use of Canvas was much better. I never felt like I HAD to attend a training or call tech support. I attended a few for advanced knowledge purposes, but I never got lost in the checkboxes on the front end the way you can in blackboard (or worse moodle).
Desire2Learn is the innovator. They are constantly pushing the envelope and adding new features. This is both a good and difficult thing. On the one hand I have learned tons about what I might be doing from D2L. They invite client interaction with the company and push me to be innovative myself. If you like that, then they are the place for you. Especially when you are used to the free-form of moodle and you want to be able to go anywhere with your ideas. However, the learning curve here is never ending. With constant innovation comes this feeling that you can never be done developing. Personally that’s right up my alley, but for some of your teachers, already crunched for time, it can be daunting. I end up having to develop a lot more in house training due to the customizations, so the canned stuff is never quite right. Desire2Learn’s customer support structure has greatly improved in recent years. I especially appreciate their 2 man approach to marketing – they bring me a sales person AND a tech so that these are not two disconnected conversations.
Share your thoughts!