Tag Archives: LMS

Tracking LMS Changes

Earlier this summer, Client Stat produced specific analysis relating to changes in LMS usage for US higher education institutions with more than 1000 students as they took place quarter-by-quarter since 2014. As with all of our previous efforts, this analysis is not based on survey data or sampling but comes from a complete data set generated using an automated process coupled with human validation and verification. Client Stat would now like to share some of the more interesting findings from this presentation.

As students head back to school this fall, more will experience a new online classroom experience than possibly ever before. Schools are not only switching LMS products at a greater pace than in recent years but have also been busy upgrading to more current versions of their existing LMS software – often providing a significantly different UI/UX than existed even at the end of the last school year. Compared to just 139 schools in 2014, 283 today are running multiple LMSs, a behavior strongly correlated with an ongoing migration effort. Schools that have previously migrated are also retiring legacy LMSs at a quicker pace, typically well within 1 year after standing up the new LMS. Schools that switch LMSs are increasingly less likely to run multiple LMSs after a migration or LMS centralization project is complete. Legacy LMSs including WebCT, ANGEL, and now Pearson’s have either entered a steady decline or have been completely phased out. Canvas continues to outpace every other LMS in terms of new installations.

LMS in use, greater than 1000 students, 2014-2016

We also took a detailed look into which institutions were switching between which LMSs. As you can interpret from the chart below, the largest raw number of LMS switches during this time period were caused by ANGEL institutions switching to Blackboard, the 2nd largest were institutions switching from Blackboard to Canvas, and the third largest were ANGEL to Canvas. No “Other” LMS seemed to gain significant traction during this time period. Rather, there is an increasing consolidation of institutions onto Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, and D2L.

Switches in LMS, greater than 1000 students, 2014-2016

Some of our analysis related to version and hosting characteristics which also revealed interesting patterns and trends.

Version Trends

  • Due primarily to their hosting model, Instructure is by far the best at keeping institutions in lock-step on the latest version of their LMS, Canvas. Only self-hosted Canvas installations seemed to lag.
  • D2L has made the most progress in terms of upgrading institutions to the latest major LMS version (13% of total Brightspace installations in 2014 compared to 62% in 2016 were running the most current major version)
  • Blackboard Learn institutions exhibit the most variation of version in use (with 13 different major versions currently in production use)

Hosting Trends

  • Across all types of LMSs, 91% of institutions that host with an LMS vendor remain customers of that LMS 3 years later. Included in this statistic are case scenarios where Moodle and Sakai institutions switch hosting/support vendors but not LMSs.
  • Of non-SaaS LMSs (i.e.: excluding Canvas and Pearson Learning Studio), Blackboard Learn institutions host with their LMS vendor most often (55%)
  • Blackboard Learn has had the greatest increase in the number of hosted LMSs over the past 3 years (250+ new hosted installations since 2014 driven primarily by conversion from self-hosting and ANGEL migrations)
  • Moodle institutions are most likely to self-host (64%)

Mapping it Out

Visualizing this change is easy to do in numbers and line graphs. Below, you can observe this quarter-by-quarter change geographically on a map. Again, this data only represents those schools having more than 1000 students. Black is Blackboard. Orange is Moodle. Green is Canvas. Red is Brightspace. You will see that pink (WebCT) and gray (ANGEL) installations largely disappear as time moves forward. Sakai (light blue), Other (darker blue), and Pearson (purple) remain less concentrated. Canvas picks up market share in many locations but is particularly pronounced in the Pacific northwest, Midwest, and Southeast. Moodle usage concentrates in North Carolina where the state higher education system largely decided to migrate to this LMS.

Mapped LMS changes, greater than 1000 students, 2014-2016

In the coming month we look forward to providing our typical yearly update that includes current data for Fall (teaser: there are some very interesting developments indeed).

The complete summer snapshot of our LMS data set is available for purchase. Should you decide to license it, we will provide an advance copy of our Fall update at no additional charge.

– Stephanie, Lead Data Scientist

LMS Data: 3rd Annual Update

This is now our third annual update of LMS market share data for higher education institutions in the US. (We’ll also update some global numbers below.) At a high level over the past year, we saw:

  • Healthy movement of schools among different LMS products as switching costs continue to decrease;
  • Changes in vendor hosting patterns: while the two most popular LMS configurations continue to be self-hosted, proprietary and vendor-hosted, proprietary, the fastest-growing is vendor-hosted, open source;
  • A stronger commitment by schools to maintain and update their LMSs to more-current versions;
  • A continued consolidation onto these 6 major LMS platforms: Blackboard Learn, D2L Brightspace, Instructure Canvas, Moodle, Pearson’s Learning Studio, and Sakai; and, related
  • Fewer schools appear to be using “other” LMSs though usage of “other” LMSs continues to be more-highly associated with smaller school sizes.

This year’s US data includes all schools with greater than 700 FTE students as determined by the US Department of Education’s IPEDS data source. If an individual institution, as listed in this data source, is known to use a particular LMS, this is reflected in the graphic below.  A single institution can use more than one LMS, which is why the percentages add up to over 100. (Some institutions for whatever reason host multiples of the same LMS – these only count once.)

Detailed 2015 LMS usage data for higher education institutions with > 700 enrollments (United States)

Some LMS-specific highlights include:


  • A quickening pace of institutions moving away from ANGEL, which reaches its end-of-life in October 2016. This product is now clearly experiencing a steady decline.

Blackboard Learn

  • While it is encouraging that two-thirds of Blackboard Learn installations are now on the 2014 releases (there is not a 2015 release available yet at the time of this writing), an estimated 10.5% of Blackboard Learn customers currently run unsupported versions. This is expected to soon rise to as high as 19.9% in December 2015 when 9.1 SP14 falls into unsupported status.
  • At the time of our data compilation, no Blackboard Learn installations in this data set were known to be using the new SaaS/Ultra configuration.

D2L Brightspace

  • The D2L organization has now moved roughly one-fifth of its US customer base to its continuous delivery version with automatic monthly updates; however the vast majority of those running this new version are institutions who host with the vendor.

Instructure Canvas

  • Canvas continues to experience significant uptake at a pace of around 2 new higher education institutions per week on average.
  • New Canvas institutions have come from almost all other flavors of LMSs, but it is not always guaranteed that Canvas is selected following a pilot or evaluation.
  • Update: Due to the questions we’ve received about Canvas, it’s important to remember our original methodology. The number of all Canvas environments reflects the total that could be materially connected back to a university and does include known pilot installations. Historical trends show a high correlation between piloting Canvas and switching to Canvas. We QA our data set with each post and remove both pilot and legacy LMSs when they are no longer in use.


  • Moodle continues to be an extremely popular LMS choice, and there are no indications that this will soon change.
  • To Blackboard’s credit, the organization continues its commitment to keeping its Moodlerooms Joule customers up-to-date. Blackboard became the single largest source of institutions running Moodle 2.8 during the past quarter. (Update: We previously incorrectly listed these installations as version 2.9 due to a scripting error.)
  • Additional Moodle hosting organizations appear to be gaining traction by successfully competing with the incumbents.


  • Of the remaining Sakai institutions, a larger number have been staying up-to-date on more-recent versions of Sakai.
  • Though institutions are still switching from other LMS solutions to Sakai, Sakai’s institution-base continues to show signs of overall weakening with more than one-quarter of remaining institutions exploring or actively running an alternate LMS.

An interesting challenge for us during the past year has been how to account for those institutions who are ceasing operations due to financial pressure, or as is the case with Corinthian, government intervention. Some of these schools, for example Heald, have web sites that no longer load and phone numbers that ring busy, but their zombie LMSs live on. Can students still log into and retrieve materials from these LMSs? We don’t know. In cases where these LMSs still exist, we include them in this report. Pearson’s Learning Studio, because of this organization’s higher concentration of for-profit universities as customers, is disproportionately impacted.


To make a fair comparison of how this data set has changed over the past 3 years, we consider only the data available for the same set of schools greater than 2000 FTE in size available for each year of our collection.  (See the 2014 yearly update for more details on how to compare the 2014 and 2013 data.)

Detailed 2015 LMS usage data for higher education institutions with > 2000 enrollments (United States)

When doing so, one can make the following observations about US higher education institutions of 2000+ FTE in size:

  • Usage of Blackboard Learn, though down in 2014, has returned to its 2013 level driven primarily by conversion of schools previously using ANGEL.
  • There are significant decreases in schools of this size using ANGEL and “other” LMSs. (“Other” LMSs have often been used in tandem with another LMS, so there is not always a +1 gain elsewhere when an “other” LMS is decommissioned.)
  • Moodle at this size level is down slightly while D2L Brightspace is up slightly.
  • Canvas has experienced significant growth and has overtaken Moodle in market share when considering only schools of this size – in effect taking second place to Blackboard Learn earlier in 2015.


Despite its US growth, Canvas, has not yet experienced significant growth globally, at least at the university level. The next chart shows LMS usage only for higher educational institutions officially recognized by their respective federal departments of education as “universities” however defined by local laws and regulations as linked below.

Blackboard Learn and Moodle continue to dominate LMS usage for universities across the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. In Canada, D2L’s Brightspace takes second place behind Moodle and above Blackboard.


For additional information, please visit this site. Edutechnica thanks Client Stat for their continued support of this project.