August Update Part 1: Recap of LMS Conferences and Announcements

It’s been a busy summer at e-Literate with a lot of LMS activity. Our Spring 2018 report came out in June with lots of new data and insight in the market. We then generated quite a bit of media attention with our LMS coverage of Blackboard in early July, followed by a busy season of LMS users conferences later in the month. As soon as the conferences end, here comes more news – this time on the Moodle and Blackboard front. As such, this month we plan to put out two newsletters since we were not able to fit one in last month.

In this newsletter, the focus is on summarizing the products-based announcements from the conferences as well as curating blog and media coverage. Next week we’ll add some analysis and new data looking at the underlying trends of the market – is the market becoming more stable or are bigger changes afoot?

On to the conference coverage, this time in date order to change things up (alphabetical can get boring).

Schoology NEXT

See our initial coverage of the conference: “Schoology, NEO, Claroline, Chamilo: The beginning of the LMS long tail”.

Schoology is an outlier, however, both in focusing much more on K-12 than on higher ed and in not making real product announcements at the conference. There are a greater percentage of teachers at this conference than the others, and the keynotes and sessions focus much more on pedagogy and professional development. Meaning there was not much information on product news or roadmaps other than the general focus on personalization. There were, however, two updates on the new Assessments:

Other conference announcements:

Additional coverage:


Given our earlier coverage and resultant media interest, and given Blackboard’s interest at the conference in discussing this topic with us, our initial coverage of the conference was a follow-up to our writing on Blackboard’s financial situation and resulting impact on operations: “Blackboard’s Defense of its Finances is not Persuasive”. We plan a second post going into product roadmap and customer feedback at e-Literate in the next week. In the meantime, here are some product announcements from BbWorld:

  • Recent Learn Ultra Feature Highlights: Attendance, SafeAssign integration coming soon, Institution Page, Audio/Video Capture, Conditional Availability, Test Question Banks
  • Learn Ultra roadmap buckets: Course Design, Assessment, Communication, Integrated Workflows, Embedded Analytics, Worldwide Use
  • Mobile Updates: Improved responsiveness, enhanced accessibility, offline content, grading capability for instructors

Other conference announcements:

  • 38% of attendees are first timers; 25% have been to four or more BbWorlds
  • 383 customers are now on Learn SaaS in 25 countries
  • 61 customers are on Learn Ultra (with varying degrees of utilization, most using Ultra base navigation on the landing page, and many others in Dual Course Mode, using a mix of Original and Ultra Experience at the course level)
  • On track to add 250+ clients to Moodlerooms unit (see below for relevant Moodle news)
  • 338 institutions licensed to use Ally, Blackboard’s accessibility technology

Additional coverage:

D2L Fusion

One focus of our post-conference coverage of D2L’s Fusion 2018 conference was the gradual and the ongoing transition to a more user-focused product design and development process. Part of this focus includes increased transparency into future roadmap planning. From the D2L community site it is now possible to access a high level summary of the product roadmap looking out three months.

The near term focus of the roadmap appears to be on incremental improvements to existing features, but there are some new features as well. The roadmap items tend to fall in line with some of the product announcements at Fusion which included things like a faster quiz creation experience, streamlined course scheduling, improvements to the grade book tool and a new portfolio feature. Here are some highlights from the roadmap for the next few months:

  • Updates to how content can be added to courses from the Learning Object Repository
  • Improvements to the layout of Brightspace Data Sets and how they are accessed
  • Support for additional submission types for the Activity Feed
  • Plans to release Advanced Data Sets that report on Impersonated User Sessions (while this feature will be available to all users with Data Hub, the immediate request comes from EU customers who need the ability to identify impersonated sessions by purged users, pointing to the increasingly global nature of the LMS market).

Other conference announcements:

  • E&I Cooperative, a non-profit purchasing cooperative, selects Brightspace as their sole LMS offering 

Other coverage:

  • Washburn University has a useful blog that summarizes the key features for each Continuous Delivery update to Brightspace


Our initial coverage of Instructure’s users conference focused on the changes that the company is going through, in “Instructure Enters those Awkward Teenage Years”

Instructure made a number of product announcements going into this summer’s conference. Quizzes.Next is one of the more high profile recent releases, but there are several others. This page on the company site provides the best summary of the product announcement. In addition, you can see the keynote address from Mitch Benson, SVP Product. Here are a few product announcement highlights:

  • Anonymous and Moderated Grading, driven by EU customer concerns (available now)
  • Doc Viewer with Crocodoc feature parity (available now)
  • Non-Scoring Rubrics to increase qualitative feedback options (available now)
  • Arc video quizing (coming in next 12 months)

Other conference announcements:

Additional coverage, noting that most news after the conference focused on Instructure’s quarterly earnings call and the subsequent drop in stock price:

Moodle News

OK, this one is not technically tied to a users’ conference but is important nonetheless. 

Shortly after the BbWorld conference, Moodle and Blackboard announced, separately, that their Moodle Certified Partner agreement was ending. We covered the breakup in our July 27 post, Moodle and Blackboard Cut Ties

Going forward, Blackboard will no longer pay money to MoodleHQ to support product development, but they will no longer be able to use the Moodle brand, meaning they will have to rebrand Moodlerooms. The Moodlerooms platform has been an engine for international growth for Blackboard, and at BbWorld they announced that they were on track to add 250+ Moodlerooms customers this year.

Thanks for subscribing, and we’ll share more updates soon.

Phil & Michael & O’Neal