Post-EDUCAUSE 2016 Update

Welcome to our new subscribers and to our almost-monthly update! In these updates we plan to summarize some of the recent LMS news from e-Literate and other sources, take a deeper look at select topics based on our market data, and highlight specific issues that emerge from our discussions. This update comes between the EDUCAUSE 2016 conference and our Fall 2016 report release in November. Plus, we are releasing a mini-report with European market data in November. This will help us hit the “monthly” target in theory if not fully in practice.

Select LMS News and Analysis

While the EDUCAUSE conference held in late October each year has lost some of its importance to the ed tech world, it does bring out market announcements from most LMS suppliers and forms a natural time for updates. At this year’s conference in Anaheim, the marketing aspect was somewhat subdued. Vendors no longer appear to be targeting their major announcements in the fall. Nevertheless, it is a good time to summarize.

  • Blackboard – The primary announcement from Blackboard was their acquisition of Fronteer, a UK company providing software called Ally that helps institutions and faculty produce accessible content. At a time of increased focus on accessibility of content and not just technology – which naturally puts higher education institutions on the spot – we pointed out last year how “The DOJ [US department of justice] insists not only that software include capabilities for accommodation of students with disabilities but also that schools actually include the content and related metadata that is required for compliance.” Fronteer is a tool to provide visibility into how accessible existing content is within a program or institution, and it offers methods to help faculty and course designers to actually implement changes. Notably, Blackboard executives have stated that Ally will retain its capability to integrate to other LMSs. It is also worth pointing out the significantly reduced footprint of the Blackboard booth, showing a change in the company’s marketing approach and budget.
  • Brightspace by D2L – And speaking of marketing spend and booth size, D2L took the lead at this year’s conference. Similar to what we are seeing in Europe, D2L appears to be ramping up their marketing efforts and aggressively courting higher education institutions. D2L’s main product announcement focused on their move to Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the main public cloud infrastructure for their Brightpace platform. They join Instructure, Schoology, and Blackboard with this move to AWS, and Amazon’s planned addition of a Canadian AWS center in early 2017 is a key element of this strategy. D2L also showcased additional tools supporting their focus on personalized learning approaches.
  • Canvas by Instructure – Instructure’s main announcement this year centered not on the Canvas LMS but on the general release of Arc as their new video platform. On Monday the company announced their earnings for Q3 2016. Revenue was up 44% year-over-year to US$30.1 million, with non-GAAP losses of US$9.5 million. During the conference call Instructure executives said that they expect to be cash flow positive as soon as this same time in 2017. In addition, their guidance for full-year revenue for 2016 is US$109.7 – US$110.3 million.
  • Schoology – In our recent post on Schoology this summer, we called out the light footprint the company has in higher education. Based on EDUCAUSE, it appears that the company is making a big effort to change this situation. Their booth size exceeded that of Instructure, and company executives noted an increase in the number of schools piloting the system. Schoology also released their Assessment Management Platform (AMP) for higher education markets, where the platform aims to improve program-level or institution-level creation and reporting on tests and exams.
  • Moodle – While Moodle itself, and even Blackboard’s Moodlerooms, did not have a real presence at EDUCAUSE, the biggest event for this fall in terms of market impact is the upcoming release of version 3.2. Moodle News recently described how “Moodle 3.2 is an ambitious attempt to upgrade, not only the theme and navigation of Moodle, but the idea and feelings of the LMS by its users.” The release is expected in the new 2-3 weeks.
  • Sakai – Also not present at the EDUCAUSE conference, Sakai’s main updates this fall includes the rollout of Sakai 11 that was announced at the end of August. Like Moodle 3.2, Sakai 11 is focused on usability and an attempt to provide a much better user experience that includes responsive design for mobile devices.
Spotlight: e-Literate Webinars in November

Working with the folks at NobleStream, we will hold webinars for the next three Wednesdays – November 2, 9, and 16 – at 2pm EST. The three webinars will allow us to describe the vision behind e-Literate as well as institutional and vendor perspectives on the procurement processes we all face in higher education. You can register for the events at this link.

The Modern Learning Platform: Not Your Mother’s Old LMS. The Learning Platform is becoming ever more central to supporting the educational landscape as it continues to transform. Educators must parse through vendor marketing buzz while vendors must understand institutional decision-making processes. That’s where our guides, Michael Feldstein and Phil Hill come in. In our three-part series, the brain trust at e-Literate share their journey to becoming thought leaders in the Higher Ed/EdTech space. We’ll hear from change-agent educators that understand the importance of the pedagogy beyond technology platforms. Finally Phil and Michael rationalize the Learning Platform decision, making selection and implementation easier for both institutions and the myriad vendors in the marketplace.

Coming Up . . . European LMS Market Data

In early November, we will release our mini-report that expands our market coverage to Europe for the LMS (or VLE if you live in the UK). The data will include overall market share in Europe as well as per-country data. We will also share average age of LMS implementations and other observations. As can be seen below, Moodle is dominant across the region, but the underlying data shows a significant shift in new implementations. Expect more soon.

Coming Up . . . Fall 2016 LMS Market Report

Our Fall 2016 update report is also due out in November. This report will build upon our Spring report but include new market data from the past 6 months. As a snapshot until the full report comes out . . .

Reminder on Email Access

In the initial phase of this service, this subscription will be delivered via email service. We have had a few issues with emails going to spam folders – we will see if there are people or organizations not opening these update emails to notify them directly. This fall we plan to start introducing a login-based website to allow subscribers to see archived reports and updates. In the meantime, you can add to your contact or white label list to avoid spam.

We would love feedback and suggestions as we move forward, so feel free to send us a note to!

From the Shameless Commerce Department

If you are finding the report and this monthly update to be valuable – share with a colleague! Do you know an institution that could use this level of insight and analysis? Go ahead, remind them gently to subscribe or even browbeat them. Either way works for us. But the value of the subscription will increase with more subscribers – especially those on campus. Thanks for getting the word out.

Until next month . . .


Phil & Michael