Many studies show that what you name a child has a direct impact on his/her success over a lifetime. This may hold true for your LMS as well. As switching costs decrease and the number of LMSs on the market continues to rise, chances are that you may want to change your institution’s LMS for another over the coming years. This means that the URL dedicated to accessing your LMS matters more now than ever.
I’ll offer some anecdotal evidence to back up this claim. Almost two full years ago, Capital One purchased ING Direct, and to this day every time I access online banking I still type ingdirect.com despite the hard redirect and persistent banner informing me to use capitalone360.com. Similarly, it took several years for me to access Chase’s web site instead of Bank One’s in a similar merger years ago. Humans don’t tend to like change, and the URL one uses to access your institution’s LMS – whether bookmarked, clicked, or typed directly into the browser’s navigation bar – is what begins their experience with it.
It was therefore surprising for us to find that almost a full 30% of institutions link to the URL provided by their LMS vendor from their official .edu sites (eg: school.desire2learn.com). An additional 40% of institutions use the name of their LMS product directly in their LMS URL (eg: moodle.school.edu).
Of the remaining institutions, a combined 20% use “learn,” “online”, or “my” in their LMS hostname (eg: my.school.edu), and a combined 15% use “courses,” “classes,” “lms,” or “cms” (eg: courses.school.edu). Fewer than 5% have chosen to use a vanity or other unique URL (eg: mascotname.school.edu or wittyacronym.school.edu).
Overall, institutions using Instructure’s Canvas tended to use a vendor-supplied/hosted URL the most (as a percentage of total institutions). Sakai institutions tended to get the most creative with their URLs including University of Michigan’s CTools, Indiana’s OnCourse, Tuft’s Trunk (after their mascot, an elephant), Hawaii’s Laulima (Hawaiian for “many hands”), University of Dayton’s Isidore (after the patron saint of the Internet), Miami University of Ohio’s Niihka (meaning “Friend” in the Myaamia tribe’s language), Texas State’s TRACS (Teaching Research And Collaboration System), and Rice’s OWL Space (again, after a mascot). Almost two-thirds of schools using Sakai as their LMS do not use the word “Sakai” in their URLs.
As you plan the future of your institution’s LMS, consider the “URL factor” – it may just be one of the most important ones to ensure its long-term success.