Dear LMS Market Analysis Subscribers,

In case you missed it our email earlier in the week, please note that we are removing the auto-renewing subscription nature of our LMS Market Analysis service. We also plan to introduce offerings more targeted towards different groups – institutions, EdTech vendors, and EdTech investors. Expect to see more info on these changes over this summer.

Instructure Layoffs

Yesterday I wrote a blog post on this week’s significant layoffs at Instructure. 

“After Instructure’s January layoffs, which mostly affected Bridge and its corporate learning market, then CEO Dan Goldsmith stated at a company all hands meeting that there were no more planned layoffs coming. [snip]

“That plan was never realistic and likely misstated by company management. Today, Instructure has implemented a new, even larger round of layoffs, this time primarily targeted at the Canvas side of the business (academic markets in higher ed and K-12). More than 150 people are losing their jobs, representing more than 12% of the workforce. These layoffs appear to be broad-based, hitting most if not all departments. When combined with the January cuts, Instructure has now removed almost 20% of its full-time staff since the beginning of the year. These are significant layoffs.”

There is more to the story, including office closings and changes in culture based on new private equity ownership. The LMS market is both more important and more unstable than it has been in a long time. Expect more analysis here in the coming months.

Emerging LMS-That-Is-Not-An-LMS To Watch: AULA

We have seen many attempts in the not an LMS category over the years, with some based on the premise that the dominant LMS players are based more on course administration than on supporting the learner. By and large, these new players are initially positioned as threats to the LMS market and then either go away or become niche-market apps that often integrate with the LMS, or fit only into small academic programs. Think Motivis and the other CBE-originated platforms, and think Notebowl. Often these systems differentiate themselves in name, using monikers such as Learning Experience Platforms.

The latest not an LMS to emerge that is worth watching is AULA, out of the UK. Like Motivis and Notebowl, AULA takes a fresh approach more centered on learner activities and interactions, with less attention placed on administrative features like the grade book. But unlike Motivis or Notebowl, AULA has a major institution-wide win with Coventry University. That school – the fastest growing in the UK with more than 40k students – has decided to fully migrate off of Moodle and onto AULA as its Virtual Learning Environment (VLE, the name used for an LMS in the UK; OK?).

I attended the virtual AULA users conference this month, and there are clear signs of demand from colleges and universities in both the UK and in North America (the conference was targeted at these two regions), with almost 2,000 registered attendees. While Coventry was the most important, another institution-wide VLE replacement of significance is Ravensborne University London (also a migration off of Moodle). Pilot programs are in place at several UK and US universities. We don’t know if AULA will end up with a bigger impact on the higher ed LMS market than Schoology, for example, but the company already has credibility.

The platform itself is centered on interactions, with a Slack-like, or feed-based design.

From a business model perspective, AULA includes some non-marketing OPM services bundled with the platform. Essentially they offer course redesign support as part of the base product. The goal is to shorten the amount of time to redesign a course fully using the system. The company’s fees are based on the number of courses with a program or school, rather than the typical LMS mode based on the number of students in an institution. On the positive side, this business model allows an easier adoption method for secondary system usage; however, the end result for institutional adoption is a higher-priced option than most LMS solutions.

The jury is obviously still out on AULA and its future impact on the market. But we believe this is a system worth watching, as it already has some credibility and unique value propositions.

CEO Anders Krohn’s presentation at the conference should give a good sense of how AULA sees itself in the market.

Keynote by Anders Krohn at Aula’s 2020 annual conference, co-hosted by Wonkhe

LMS Market Not Frozen

With the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and rapid shift to remote instruction globally, we predicted that there would be a short-term slowdown in the academic LMS market. This was due to two factors:

  • Institution staff and faculty were also forced to transition to remote working, which made it difficult to continue any committee meetings or evaluation work that had been in process.
  • At the same time, the emergency focus had to be on making current systems work. Schools had a matter of weeks to transition to remote instruction in an all hands on deck manner, pushing some decisions off.

As we look at our data, we did see a slowdown in new decisions announced in late March and April; however, we are also seeing plenty of signs that LMS switches may be accelerating as we head into the summer and fall.

We expect there to be a large change in the LMS market for the remainder of 2020, due both to corporate finances and to the growing importance of eLearning infrastructure during the pandemic.

We wish you the best as you deal with planning for Fall 2020 and beyond. Stay well and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or comments. We’d love to hear from you directly.


Phil on behalf of The MindWires Team