Another new LMS launches almost every week to higher ed or k12 clients around the world (just recently we’ve seen OpenClass by publishing giant Pearson announced to some fanfare). In other news reports of Blackboard and new-comer, Instructure being selected over several other Learning Management Systems (including Moodle) have been announced to the chagrin of Moodle critics (Brown chooses Instructure, UHawaii chooses Blackboard, Edge Hill chooses Blackboard over Moodle).
It would seem that Moodle is slipping in market share just as it was beginning to pull to the front and lead. I think that’s an inaccurate conclusion. It’s probably more accurate that the media coverage is simply uneven. There are some better ways to gauge the health of Moodle’s community, here are just a few.
Moodle.org/stats: while the total number of “known” Moodle sites has dipped recently (known = voluntarily registering with Moodle HQ) the total number of registered users continues to grow on average over time. Up and to the right is exactly where new user growth should be heading. As for the dip of registered site? Could be caused by upgrades or consolidation (teachers nixing their single course sites for school-/institution-provided solutions).
Google.com/insights: this is a great way to track search trends over the years. I plugged in Moodle, Blackboard and Instructure to see their respective search volume over the page 15 months. The data are pretty cool. You can see seasonal dips in searches from year over year always in the summer and at xmas time (following traditional academic calendar) for both Moodle and Blackboard. Moodle still leads and seems to be pulling away in overall search volume. This could be that Blackboard users simply go to the Blackboard support forums for help (or email their local text staff) or the Moodle perhaps has a more disparate collection of resources and help online (~65% of Moodlenews traffic is through Google searches). Whatever it is though the growth of Moodle search volume is healthy/thriving.
Do I think Moodle adoption is slipping? No, and I think there’s a bright future for the LMS as its partners continue to improve its flexibility and potential userbase (now providing and customizing products for businesses for example). Not to mention that it has a great community to support it. Other, new LMSs will always crop up and share headlines with Moodle, which is a great thing to drive innovation of the marketplace overall. As I get more experience in online courseware and elearning I’m happy that the marketplace is so robust and that there are so many players; which provides the best possibility that one is exactly what I need).