January 2018 – First Foray into K-12 LMS Usage and Looking at the Long Tail

Welcome to our new subscribers! As we are fully into the new year, we wanted to send out a newsletter with lots of new data. We also wanted to take another opportunity to thank you for your support and continued interest in this work!

This month we are excited to share some initial data on LMS usage in the K-12 market in the United States. We’ve only recently starting collecting data for this large and significant market, and while the numbers aren’t comprehensive yet, there are some interesting trends emerging. We, along with our partner LISTedTECH, will be continuing our data collection efforts in K12 in the coming months.

In addition to the new K12 information, we thought it would also be interesting to look beyond the Big Four LMS solutions and instead explore the long tail. We thought you’d be interested in the insights these new optics are providing.

On to the updates.

First Foray Into K-12

Over the past several months, our partners at LISTedTECH have ramped up their efforts to collect data on LMS usage in the K-12 market in the United States. This is a massive effort as the market includes more than 135,000 individual public and private schools according to recent NCES documentation. Our initial sample looks at 6,875 public schools from across the country in the NCES-designated primary, middle, high and other (special ed, vocational or alternative) categories. These results were manually verified. That said, we expect to see movement in the market share numbers as we collect and verify additional data, including LMS usage at private schools.

As in our analysis of the higher ed market, we are focusing on school-wide (or district- or state-wide) implementations of LMS platforms. At many K-12 schools, in the absence of a school-wide implementation, individual teachers opt to use an LMS for their particular classroom, often for free. We do not consider that a school-wide adoption and therefore do not include those use cases in our data. This methodology does not fully analyze total usage of a platform like Schoology that has a freemium model, including a free option for individual teachers and an enterprise solution which is a school-wide adoption based on a fee per student model. A platform like Google Classroom likewise has usage by individual teachers as well as school-wide implementations. Ok, let’s take a look at what the data shows.

The graph above presents a global view of school-wide LMS implementations in the United States. To get a sense of how representative this initial market share is, we made the same calculations only looking at 8 states where we have at least 17% coverage of known schools . The data for each LMS matched within ~2% (e.g. Canvas went from 24% to 22%).

As in the higher education market, there appears to be four top contenders in K-12, with all others having less than 5% of market share. Moodle and Canvas are both present in the Big Four for both higher education and K-12, but here Google Classroom and Schoology are the other big players. We believe that this is the first data set showing just how widely Google Classroom has been adopted.

The general distribution is somewhat consistent across school levels – primary, middle, high school, and others – with some interesting smaller variations. The following view also gives a sense of our relative data coverage by level.

We plan to share this data on the e-Literate blog soon but wanted our subscribers to have the first look.

Looking at the Long Tail

One trend we’ve noted in our analysis is how much the postsecondary market in multiple geographic regions (for our coverage, in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania) has consolidated on higher education’s version of the Big Four: Moodle, Blackboard Learn, Canvas by Instructure, and Brightspace by D2L. But this view, due to large installed bases and dominance of new implementations, can obscure the view of many of the other LMS solutions.

So we thought it would be interesting to specifically exclude the Big Four but otherwise open wide the net and see what we catch. Specifically, let’s look at all geographic regions (even Africa, Asia, and areas not in our official coverage), at both primary and secondary systems, and at all degree types (including further education in UK, vocational ed elsewhere, etc). And let’s look at the resultant data using the new box-and-whisker chart based on implementation age in years.

Some notes on the resultant data:

  • The tail is even longer considering the size of “Others”, and we may break even further if that is of interest to subscribers;
  • The thickest part of long tail as measured by number of active instances is Sakai, Pearson, NEO, Ilias, and Jenzabar;
  • NEO’s box is collapsed, reflecting that the majority of their activity in higher education coming from a big multi-campus deal in the Philippines;
  • Looking at bottom of age box-and-whiskers, Homegrown, Jenzabar, NEO, Olat, Pearson, & Stud.IP have no new activity in past two years, and Fronter and Stud.IP have median ages of a decade; and
  • By way of contrast, Schoology, Google Classroom, and Chamilo seem fairly active recently.
Special Report on Latin America Coming Soon

We hope that you found these updates useful. Sometime early this year we’ll release a special report on trends in online education in Latin America with a special focus on Brazil. If you haven’t had a chance to read our Fall 2017 LMS Market Dynamics report which was released last month, have a look.

We’re always open to feedback, which you can send to eLitLMS@mindwires.com.

Enjoy the holidays!


Phil & Michael & O’Neal