In 2013, Harvard Business professor Clayton Christensen made a bold prediction based on his ubiquitous innovation theory that maybe half of all postsecondary institutions could close within 10-15 years.

(source: https://youtu.be/KYVdf5xyD8I, starting at 6:25)

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It’s common knowledge that Instructure has shifted its focus to place more emphasis on its growth in corporate learning markets than in the educational markets that have fueled the company growth to date. We covered the initial news about their introduction of the corporate learning LMS, Bridge, four years ago.

While Instructure has excelled on maintaining product focus and simplicity of user experience, this move outside of education raises the question about whether they can maintain company focus. The corporate market is very different than the education market – different product needs, fragmented vendor market, different buying patterns. Many companies have tried to cross over between education and corporate learning, but most have failed. Blackboard, D2L and Moodle have made a footprint in the corporate space using one product for both markets. Instructure’s approach is different.

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To paraphrase the intro paragraph from January’s post on the George Mason University report, another year month and another deeply flawed report about online education in US higher education, this time by Di Xu (assistant professor of educational policy and social context at the University of California
Irvine and a visiting fellow at AEI) and Ying Xu (Ph.D. candidate at the School of Education at the University of California Irvine). The report is titled “The promises and limits of online higher education: Understanding how distance education affects access, cost, and quality”.

AEI Report Cover

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Moodle unveiled its new product, Moodle Workplace, at the the Learning Technologies conference in London three weeks ago. While the open source Moodle LMS has been used by companies and organizations for employee training for years (approximately 40% of Moodle implementations worldwide according to this 2015 interview), Workplace represents a new approach for Moodle’s usage of open source deployment.

Moodle Workplace

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In last week’s post on Blackboard, I shared the roughly linear progression of migration of the Learn LMS to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model – a move that we believe is more important than is the Learn Ultra user experience. If you take into account percentages of total Learn deployments, you see that Blackboard has roughly 25% of Learn clients on SaaS after starting in late Fall 2016, increasing by approximately 10% per year. ((Each point is taken from Blackboard public release of information either directly to us at e-Literate or in press releases.))

 

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Over the past eight days there have been a series of valuable articles covering Online Program Management (OPM) and the broader Online Program Enablement (OPE) markets. ((See this post to better understand the OPE concept.)) All four articles provide useful historical and academic environment context to better understand market dynamics.

University of Cape Town Policy Briefing

Laura Czerniewicz and Sukaina Walji from the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) released Issues for universities using private companies for online education this week as a policy briefing for “universities who are thinking of using – or already using – private companies to develop or expand their online programmes or courses” ((I’ll stick with the South African English spelling in this section.))

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Blackboard had a lot of news to share two weeks ago when we spoke with CEO Bill Ballhaus and senior teaching and learning executives. The updates addressed efforts to streamline the business, customer retention, and customer acquisition. Blackboard ((Disclosure: Blackboard is a subscriber to our LMS Market Analysis service.)) was upbeat about their current position and prospects going forward, but we see a mixed picture.

Ballhaus said that Blackboard’s efforts to simplify the business were paying off and leading to greater focus on their core teaching and learning businesses. While the company was built as an enterprise software amalgamation based on 20+ corporate acquisitions, Ballhaus described how management is looking forward to becoming a Software as a Service (SaaS) business with a simpler focus. While the executives declined to comment on current M&A activity, Blackboard appears to be trying to sell its CashNet and Transact products that are part of the same business line focused on campus ID and payment processing, for up to $800 million and $720 million respectively ((Although it is possible that both of these reports are referring to the same combined transaction – CashNet and Transact together. This explanation makes more sense to me.)). Remembering that Blackboard reportedly tried but failed to sell the entire company for ~$3 billion in 2015, there is no guarantee that they will actually sell either unit or get the desired prices. [Update 3/7: Blackboard did end up selling entire Transact business unit , including CashNet, to PE firm Reverence Capital for a reported $720m.] But if they do succeed, the profits from either sale will help the company pay down and manage its debt. And it will back up the claims of focusing the company on core teaching and learning business.

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Inside Higher Ed reported today on a new survey report on community colleges and challenges that students face.

Most community colleges are aware of the challenges students face if they are working, raising children or struggling to afford textbooks. But a newly released survey digs into the nuances of those challenges so colleges can pinpoint ways to lift barriers to college completion and prevent students from dropping out.

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This is the eleventh year I have shared the LMS market share graphic, commonly known as the squid graphic, for US and Canadian higher education. This past year we at e-Literate shifted our LMS Market Analysis reports from Spring / Fall to Mid-Year / End-of-Year to better allow analysis of entire years. With the release of our end-of-2018 report last week to subscribers, it’s time for us to look at updates on the institutional LMS market for North America (US and Canada) higher education. Note that our coverage for the market analysis includes Europe, Latin America, Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, and surrounding island countries) as well as emerging coverage of the Middle East.

We present the following data “by institutions”, with market share as a percentage of the total number of institutions using each LMS as a primary system, and “by enrollments”, where we scale the institutions by its total enrollment. The latter better captures the business of the LMS market, since most licensing deals are based the number of students.

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Another year and another deeply flawed report about online education in US higher education, this time by Spiros Protopsaltis (associate professor and director of the Center for Education Policy and Evaluation at George Mason University, as well as former aide to Senate Democrats) and Sandy Baum (a fellow at the Urban Institute and professor emerita of economics at Skidmore College, as well as former advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign). As Inside Higher Ed described the report, titled “Does Online Education Live Up to Its Promise? A Look at the Evidence and Implications for Federal Policy”:

Online education has not lived up to its potential, according to a new report, which said fully online course work contributes to socioeconomic and racial achievement gaps while failing to be more affordable than traditional courses.

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