Addressing the Decline of Open Source LMS for #altc Discussion

There is an interesting discussion on Twitter #altc that is worth addressing, regarding the decline of open source solutions in EdTech, with LMS as a key example.

Laura Czerniewicz posted in reply:

Michael Feldstein and I have dealt with this subject at e-Literate and on this blog, as Laura references, but it might be worthwhile to update the data. I do not plan on address the “why” and “what can be done” questions in this post, instead focusing on hopefully more useful information as input to the discussion.

First a note on the data for context. Our data set and analysis behind our LMS Market Analysis service for higher education is in partnership with LISTedTECH. The data are very school or institution-centric. We do not look at how many implementations are claimed by LMS providers, rather we look at institutions and check which LMSs are their primary or secondary systems. We use the public data from LMS providers as quality checks on our data, not as the source. We have data on over 11,000 institutions worldwide, with roughly 4,500 in the US and Canada. The primary regions we cover are North America, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand). We also have data for the Middle East, Africa, and various sub-regions of Asia, although we do not officially cover those in our market analysis. There is new data we plan to release soon on more than 3,000 K-12 institutions in the US and Canada.

In our Summer 2019 report, we showed the installed base in different global regions, based on number of institutions.

Regarding open source LMS:

  • Moodle is dominant, both as an open source LMS solution and globally as the most-implemented LMS solution.

  • The adoption of Moodle in the North America (25%) is different and much lower than other global regions (67 – 76%).

  • As seen in our previous post, if you scale by enrollment in North America, Moodle has even lower (12%) market share in North America.

The question in the #altc discussion, however, seems to be more about the historical trends, not the installed base. And the question also seems to focus on the markets outside of North America. Laura referenced this post which shows the clear decline of Moodle and Sakai in North America, but what about other regions? The following chart shows LMS market share by institution for all of our higher education data outside of North America (including areas in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia that we do not officially cover yet).

Some notes:

  • The data set is more complete in recent years, and open source implementations at smaller schools are difficult to find. Therefore there is likely a bias with more Moodle schools in recent years. In other words, there may be somewhat more of a decline that the data initially shows.

  • The majority of “open source” usage is from Moodle, but this category also includes Sakai, Blackboard OpenLMS, and other open source solutions. This category does not include Canvas.

  • Outside of North America there is a slight decline in open source LMS since 2015, or at least a plateau.

  • I don’t have time this morning to create a separate chart, but in general open source LMS tends to drop off for more mature markets (in terms of higher LMS adoption within a region). One way to read this is that open source LMS markets are shifting over time towards developing regions.

I look forward to the continued #altc discussion, but hopefully this data will help with context.