Against the ominous signs that Canvas LMS would take the silver medal, Moodle remains the second most popular LMS of 2017 across US and Canada colleges and universities, At least according to figures by e-Literate and LISTedTECH, which give Blackboard Learn the elusive top spot.
Speculation by e-Literate about Canvas’ strategy, having boasted unrivaled rates of new adoption in the past five years, suggested they were going after Moodle customers. But it seems the open source LMS will end the year with basically the same market share it had at the beginning, despite indications of impending doom, also by e-Literate.
Blackboard Learn’s dominance shows a decrease to 28%, down from 31% last year. This means Moodle’s 25% puts it closer than ever to first place in North America. This account of stability is suspicious by e-Literate’s own previous reporting, with early 2017 growth rates of about 55% for Canvas and zero for Moodle in the first quarter, according to this chart. Furthermore, its graphical “squid chart” shows a visible, albeit unquantified, decline in Moodle. e-Literate states the decline is less than one percent, therefore “not enough to show up in the rounded numbers in the table.”
All of which leaves us to wonder: How can an LMS have no growth while its close competitors show increases of 55% and 44% (for D2L, now with a 15% market share), and end the year with its market share unchanged?
Despite their influence in the Higher Ed LMS trade, e-Literate has been traditionally unspoken or vague about exact figures, statistical methodologies, and sample sizes used in a given year. A glimpse of the process at LISTedTECH, e-Literate data source, was finally available earlier this month, revealing “LMS data for 4,523 institutions in the US and Canada and 8,824 institutions worldwide.” It claims they have 90% coverage of US and Canada, and 60 to 75% of institutions in Europse, which amounts to a margin of error of more than 450 universities. For Latin America and Oceania, e-Literate simply states they have “less than that” and “more than that” respectively.
While their articles for Canvas parent company, Instructure, have suggestive names like “InstructureCon 2017: Culture as a competitive weapon” and “Instructurecon 2016: Why This Company is Still Formidable (and Misunderstood)”, for Moodle it dedicates headlines such as “Whither Moodle” and “Why Moodle Supporters Should be Concerned”.
Higher Ed accounts for 10% of Moodle in North America
e-Literate has tried to use higher ed figures (and headlines) to sow doubts about the future of Moodle as a whole, but by its own account, 25% of 4,523 equals 1,131 Moodle institutions. Assuming that the 10% missing from their sample follows the same distribution, it follows that some 1,257 higher ed institutions in the US and Canada use Moodle. As of early November, data about registered sites in moodle.net report 10,829 for the US (the largest Moodle nation) and 1,842 for Canada, for a North American total of 12,671. Putting these results together, the percentage of Moodle sites belonging to higher ed falls to around 10%.
Moodle registration data are conservative measurements. They come from volunteer automated reporting, which updates weekly and removes unused, empty, or publicly inaccessible sites. In any case, more openness from Moodle Pty Ltd regarding operational results and market share from Moodle Partners would certainly benefit the conversation.