September 2018: Enrollment-based LMS Market Share and Google Trends


In the LMS world, we’re between the summer users conferences and the fall ed tech conferences, the two times when news about LMS roadmaps and LMS company moves are most prevalent. But this also means that we at e-Literate are enjoying some time at home without too much work-based travel, which is nice.

We expect to have significant updates from the vendors leading into the EDUCAUSE and WCET conferences next month, including a deeper look at Blackboard’s rebranding of Moodlerooms into Open LMS.

In this newsletter we present two new data views. The first is a consolidated view of LMS market share by enrollments instead of the traditional measure by adopting institutions, and the second is a Google trends view of LMS search terms. For some fun.

LMS Market Share by Enrollment

We have published market share data measured by total institutional enrollment instead of institutional count in several posts at e-Literate over the years, within the twice-annual reports, and for several of our premium subscribers; however, we have not made this information easy to access in one place. LMS company revenue tends to be based on the total enrollment of adopting institutions, thus this enrollment-based measure provides a more direct connection to company finances. Given the increased importance of LMS provider business models and revenue to the future trends of the market, we are sharing the information more broadly.

In this view below we share North American total enrollment for LMSs that are primary – available for the entire institution. It is important to note that during an LMS transition there is often a period of time (6 – 18 months) where two systems overlap, with both available to the school. Therefore the total market share enrollments will be somewhat higher than actual total enrollments, as a subset of LMS-transitioning institutions will be counted twice.

You can download a spreadsheet version here. We’re likely to share this data on e-Literate soon.

Google Trends on Select LMS Terms

While doing research for a recent post, we looked at some data not directly tied to institutional adoptions. Google Trends presents an interesting method to see what people in general are interested in based on search terms. This got us curious about what these trend data would show. Below we show results from 2004 through present for the top four LMS solutions as well as a fun one thrown in.

As an example, the search for Moodle LMS gives searches where the words Moodle and LMSoccur. Two notes on the trends:

  • D2L was previously known as Desire2Learn and their LMS was rebranded to Brightspace; therefore their results below are partial and only based on D2L terminology.
  • Pearson’s OpenClass free LMS was announced in 2011, and it quickly became the talk of the market. We’ve added this for fun, even though OpenClass came and went quickly, moved to end-of-life status in 2016.
  • We are sharing results for worldwide searches and for US-only searches, as it gives some insight into some geographic differences in LMS interest (spoiler alert – it’s Moodle that has biggest difference).

Additional Notes:

  • Moodle was the most frequent search term worldwide from 2007 through 2016 for LMSs, but this was only the case in the US from late 2006 through mid 2010. And it was quite close to Blackboard.
  • Canvas has been consistently growing since its 2010 release, becoming the most frequent search in the US in 2014 and worldwide in 2017.
  • There is an interesting spike in Blackboard searches in the US in fall 2015. This was the period of time when there were many questions about Learn Ultra and what it really meant for the market. e-Literate certainly covered Learn Ultra more in that time period than any other.
  • For fun we added Pearson OpenClass (it’s free and amazing!!! whee!!!) to show the interest in that product from its announcement in fall 2011 and renewed interest in late 2013 through 2014.

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

Phil & Michael & O’Neal