As we near the end of another year, it’s a useful exercise to look back and reflect on the trends and developments in our space over 2013. We’ve compiled a few to consider – tweet your own using #LMS2013
(1) A new LMS concept gained traction
When Pearson first announced OpenClass as an installable app for Google Apps for Education, it was met with skepticism, and even Google tried to distance itself from the product. In 2013, however, two new institutions, Abilene Christian University and West Virginia University at Parkersburg, decided to make the move to OpenClass. OpenClass features capabilities not typically found in other LMSs including tight coupling with Google’s collaboration tools and an integrated content marketplace featuring publisher content and OERs. With no licensing costs, its business model is also very different from others. It will be interesting to observe and gauge the success of these and other institutions with this product over the coming years.
(2) Dozens of new open source LMSs were created, and not a single one gained much traction
Patrick Masson, the OSI’s newly-commissioned General Manager blogged earlier this year (while still CTO of UMass Online) about the existence of literally hundreds of open source LMSs. Dozens of new ones popped up this year alone. While these contribute to a variety of choices, according to our research not a single one has made much headway. Thinking of the thousands of hours spent on these projects, most of which statistically will die, we wonder if these developers could have made a more lasting impact by contributing to existing community source efforts.
One related notable development in this category this year was the purchase of Adrenna, an LMS company with an open source, Drupal-based LMS by an ex-Blackboard co-founder, but it’s not clear how widely used it is or will become.
(3) Instructure proved that it can support institutions using its open source version and attract new clients overseas
Instructure has been fairly successful at ensuring that the vast majority of its client institutions host in their Amazon cloud-based environment, but nevertheless Simon Fraser University has proven that the open source version of Canvas is also enticing. With the help of Instructure’s Professional Services team, SFU migrated over 8,000 courses into its self-managed Canvas environment in one month’s time. Instructure also won its first UK institution in 2013, University of Birmingham, who has made the decision to migrate from WebCT.
(4) Blackboard proved that it can both retain and win new clients
Blackboard had a very interesting win this year in convincing Charles Sturt University in Australia to migrate from Sakai to Blackboard Learn. It has also been fairly successful at convincing several ANGEL institutions, whose LMS is still fully supported by the company, to make the move to Blackboard Learn as well.
But nevertheless, no vendor can keep them all. Seattle University decided to move from ANGEL to Instructure’s Canvas. Western Nevada College did, too, except they migrated from the Blackboard-owned Moodlerooms Joule LMS instead.
(5) Blackboard proved that it can lose a BbLearn license and still keep an institution as an LMS client
When University of New South Wales decided to migrate from Blackboard Learn and standardize on Moodle, one of Moodle’s top commercial partners stood ready to help. Fortunately, Blackboard also owns NetSpot, the largest Moodle partner in the area.
(6) Institutions using home-grown LMSs became fewer and far between
University of Maryland University College is one of the first institutions to have built its own LMS (and has been using it since before Blackboard even existed). After over 16 years of dutiful maintenance, UMUC finally decided to decommission its homegrown LMS and migrate to Desire2Learn this year.
MIT, however, facing a similar decision with its Stellar LMS launched in 2001, decided instead to rebuild many components of its homegrown LMS and integrate them with their new MITx platform (which appears to be built, at least partially, on EdX’s open source code base).
(7) Instructure couldn’t win them all
Here’s an interesting one. Florida State College at Jacksonville began a LMS re-evaluation pilot early in the year, fully intending to migrate to Instructure Canvas. But ultimately the university reversed course and stuck with Blackboard Learn. The faculty were a key driver in the decision, ultimately passing a faculty senate vote to keep Blackboard Learn.
(8) Switching LMSs got easier…for entire consortia and state-wide systems
The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the Utah Education Network, and the University System of Georgia are each large systems who have have all managed to switch dozens of institutions to other LMS solutions in recent years. Mississippi Community Colleges continues the trend this year with a move from a combination of Desire2Learn and Blackboard products to Canvas. While previous large-scale migration efforts often took over a year of planning and execution, this change was announced in mid-February, and schools were up and running on Canvas by June 1st.
(9) Apereo OAE (finally) reached production ready status
After spending many years in conception and development, undergoing a couple name changes, an architectural rewrite, and enduring a major switch in organizational structure, the LMS that has become Apereo OAE is finally production-ready. It certainly has no where near the feature set of a current-generation LMS (to be fair it wasn’t exactly trying to become one and perhaps shouldn’t even be be considered one), but its user experience is incredibly slick and its technology stack exceedingly modern. Watch this one.
(10) Old friends grew apart
When Dartmouth College announced after 15 years that it would drop Blackboard for Canvas, it joined several other schools who after many years of being happy with their existing LMS have nonetheless decided that a better fit exists. Northwestern began piloting a replacement LMS this year after being a Blackboard customer since 1999. And after over a decade as a Blackboard client, University of Pennsylvania decided to go all-in on Canvas.
Their decisions reinforce the increasingly dynamic nature of the space and that even when an institution is happy with their current LMS, change is still possible.
So what do you think – are there other developments that we should have considered this year? Tweet your own using #LMS2013