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

By 2019-08-15August 16th, 201912 Comments

It has been nearly a dozen years of sharing the LMS Market share graphic, commonly known as the squid diagram. This past year we at MindWires shifted our LMS Market Analysis reports from Spring / Fall to Mid-Year / End-of-Year to better allow analysis of entire years. With the release of our mid-year 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 emerging 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.

North American Higher Ed LMS Market share for mid 2019, based on number of institutions using each solution as primary system.

In the past five years, the LMS Market for North American higher education has become increasingly dominated by “the Big Four” (Instructure Canvas, Blackboard Learn, D2L Brightspace, Moodle) 1Disclosure: Instructure, Blackboard, D2L, Moodle, and Schoology are all subscribers to our LMS Market Analysis service. for institution-wide adoptions; the aggregate market share of year’s top four systems moving from 80% to 95% in past five years. Beyond North America, we are seeing the same trends in Europe, Latin America, and Australia / New Zealand.

Consolidation of North American Higher Ed LMS Market in Big Four of Canvas, Blackboard, D2L, and Moodle, moving from 76% combined share in 2012 to 95% today.

We recently 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. This slowdown seems to be a type of plateau rather than a continuing trend, and we are watching to see if it is temporary or not. We have seen some increased activity this summer, but we are not ready yet to say if the trend has reversed.

In addition, last summer 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 several counter-forces (the market slowdown, University of Phoenix finishing its Learn Ultra implementation, and closure of for-profit chain and dozens of campuses using Canvas), Canvas has extended its North American lead – 28% vs. 27% based on count of institutions, and 35% vs. 31% in terms of student enrollments at those schools.

North American Higher Ed LMS market share by enrollment, with Canvas at 35%, Blackboard at 31%, Brightspace at 14%, and Moodle at 12%.

While D2L’s market share with Brightspace actually decreased slightly largely due to the closure of for-profit clients, they have picked up some impressive wins lately, including Purdue University, the University of the Sciences, University of Rhode Island, and nearly a dozen others (not all of which are publicly announced yet).

Moodle declined slightly – less than 1% in terms of institutions – over the past year. We have added Jenzabar to our main graphic, based on its somewhat persistent market share.

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 fall.

Update 8/16: Adding Disclosure – Instructure, Blackboard, D2L, Moodle, and Schoology are all subscribers to our LMS Market Analysis service.


  • Jon Doe says:

    If D2L market share shrunk in both the second half of 2018 and in the first half of 2019 why does your graphic show them as flat? You even seem to have edited the graphic from last year showing that marked decline. What gives?

    • Jane Doe says:

      Now now Jon, keep your Canvas bias out of this! It’s because D2L had a decline in FTE due to large for-profit closures. From a market share perspective, they’ve increased their client count.

      • Jon Doe says:

        “While D2L’s market share with Brightspace actually decreased slightly…” Me thinks it’s D2L bias at play here…

    • Phil Hill says:

      I sent this same response by email, but here it is in public.

      Jon (like that twist, by the way),

      D2L did lose market share, but the combined loss over the past year was roughly 0.2%. The graphic design is not able to capture that level detail. Over time, we continue to capture historical data which provides a more accurate picture of the past, leading to adjustments. These two issues combined lead to a trend for them that looks flat rather than showing very small decline – wish we could visually show this level of detail outside of a data table, but what we have is best approximation.

      Hope this helps explain.

  • Victor Hugo says:

    i’ve seen this graph in a few circles now. The data is innacurate as it also accounts for all of Moodle’s free sites. If it reflected paid sites in use, the market share is significantly less.

    • Phil Hill says:

      No data set is perfect, but this is not inaccurate in the way you describe. We take an institution-centric view: percentage of institutions choosing each LMS as its primary system. This does include free Moodle sites as well as paid (mostly Moodle Partner or Blackboard OpenLMS) sites. Put another way, it reflects sites in use, whether paid or not.

  • Sam says:

    Really informative and helpful post. Thanks for sharing this awesome post.

    Sam from techtokMunch

  • Mike says:

    Thanks for sharing – curious how to reconcile to the data here ( that shows that Canvas had ~30% share – it implies they gained 5% of share in 6mo despite RFPs being down y.y? Wanted to make sure we are looking apples to apples. Thank you!

    • Phil Hill says:

      Edutechnica is a separate data set that we do not control. We (at MindWires) work with LISTedTECH – I would not try to make that time of reconciliation between the two.