State of Higher Ed LMS Market for US and Canada: Year-End 2019 Edition

It has now been a dozen years of sharing the LMS Market share graphic, commonly known as the squid diagram. With the release of our Year-End 2019 report this week to subscribers, it’s time for us to look at updates on the institutional LMS market for North America (US and Canada) higher education. Note that our coverage for the market analysis includes Europe, Latin America, Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, and surrounding island countries) as well as new coverage of the Middle East.

We present the following data “by institutions”, with market share as a percentage of the total number of institutions using each LMS as a primary system, and “by enrollments”, where we scale the institutions by its total enrollment. The latter better captures the business of the LMS market, since most licensing deals are based the number of students.

But first, let’s look at an updated LMS market share graphic for US and Canadian higher education. The original idea remains – to give a picture of the LMS market in one page, highlighting the story of the market over time. The key to the graphic is that the width of each band represents the percentage of institutions using a particular LMS as its primary system.

Sankey diagram of LMS market, with width of bands representing percentage of higher ed institutions using each LMS as a primary system

We have described the overall market activity slowdown in that there are fewer LMS formal evaluations taking place since mid 2018, with data pointing to a 20 – 25% drop from a year earlier. Over the past three months, however, we are seeing signs of an acceleration in the market. The following chart is based on trailing 12-month data (to smooth out seasonal variations) of New Implementations (LMS switches or first-time LMS usage) for North America, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania combined, but the trends are similar just in North America. We will keep watching this trend to see if it is a true reversal of the slowdown.

In addition, in mid 2018 we shared the symbolic passing of the torch where Canvas surpassed Blackboard in US market share, which was the first time Blackboard was not the top system since the market emerged two decades ago. Despite the market slowdown (which largely benefits Blackboard), and despite D2L’s recent increase in its win rates, Canvas has extended its North American lead – 30% vs. 25% based on count of institutions, and 40% vs. 33% in terms of student enrollments at those schools.

While D2L’s market share with Brightspace remained essentially flat largely due to the closure of for-profit clients, they have continued to pick up some impressive wins, including American Public University System and the state of Maine’s university and community college systems in the past six months.

We have a broader set of data as part of our LMS Market Analysis service, and we will share more information on regions outside of North America this spring.

More importantly, on Thursday Instructure holds its shareholders’ vote which will determine if the Thoma Bravo acquisition gets approved or not. We believe the market is entering a new phase, with new competitive dynamics, and this potential sale could determine much of the future trends we will see. Expect more reporting in the next few days.

Disclosure: Instructure, Blackboard, D2L, Moodle, and PowerSchool / Schoology are all subscribers to our LMS Market Analysis service.