It is now becoming common practice for higher education institutions to utilize elearning in some capacity. As a result, these universities and colleges need to select a learning management system to host and deliver their content.
In a survey conducted by Whitney Kilgore, faculty across various higher ed organizations responded to questions relating to their use of online learning and learning management systems. The individuals who responded were employed by institutions from all over the world.
While there are many fascinating results from this study (perhaps a topic for another day), the one area that stood out to me the most was in regard to the learning management system that faculty had the most experience with.
The result? Blackboard still rules the day.
In the image below, created by faculty ecommons, you can see the distribution of which systems are apparently most commonly used in the higher education landscape. Specifically, the survey asked participants to list all the learning management systems that they have had experience with using to deliver online course material.
Despite all the new entrants into the learning management space, Blackboard still has a stranglehold on the LMS industry. I suppose I am not all that surprise as they do have one of the most popular brand names.
And even though Moodle lacks of user-friendliness, it has positioned itself well. I suspect that it will continue to evolve (it needs to) now that there are new APIs available and higher expectations from a user interface standpoint.
But then there is WebCT rounding out third… funny thing is, since this survey was originally conducted (2012), WebCT has been bought out by Blackboard. Oh , and same with Angel Learning.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that participants had experience with Canvas – I have heard some pretty good things about their set-up. I can’t help but wonder if it is just a matter of time until Blackboard swoops in for the buy-out.
So What Does this All Mean?
I think this survey does provide some valuable insight into what systems educators have experience with in delivering their online course materials, but the bigger story is that we clearly see Blackboard’s demographic.
Blackboard’s strategy is to buy out their competition. Nothing wrong with this; business is business. But it actually indicates the focus that they are putting into higher education.
Quite some time ago I was working on a project where the corporate client was investigating using Blackboard for their LMS. Long story short, they went another direction.
Today, I don’t know if Blackboard would really come up anymore in the corporate sector. Perhaps because of the brand name, but a quick look at their site gives a clear impression on who they prefer as customers. Sure, they still list corporations on their target market list, but I think the focus has shifted to education.
Industry Needs Blackboard
The elearning and LMS industry need Blackboard. Love them, or love to hate them, they play a major role in helping to educate the general market about the importance, and benefits, of an online learning approach. And just like all major companies can trace their roots back to Xerox, many elearning companies can do the same with Blackboard.
That said, the entire industry is poised for (much needed) change.