imageReading the Distance Education Survey 2010 (from the Instructional Technology Council) is fascinating. Although the report is only based American community colleges, I think there are lots of parallels to TAFEs here in Australia. First, before I dive into the information on colleges changing Learning Management Systems (LMS), some of key contexts:

  • Enrolment in online courses in the US community colleges, is growing faster than enrolment overall (9% v 7/8%)
  • Having run out of on-campus teaching capacity, 40% of colleges use off-campus instructors to teach online courses. Many of them don't live in the area of the college
  • 65% offer some classes as completely online courses
  • The proportion of colleges offering blended-learning courses increased by 50% last year, to 21%
  • 4% offer live interactive video courses

All of which means that the mode of learning is changing (quite rapidly), and presumably colleges are becoming increasingly reliant on their Learning Management Systems to deliver online and blended courses. So LMS goes up the priority list for mission-critical IT for a college or university.

One third of US colleges considering changing their LMS

Which makes it odd that a third of colleges say that they are considering switching their LMS platform in the next few years - and that proportion has been roughly similar for all of the past five years. Because if it's mission critical, surely you wouldn't expect to see such massive change being considered so consistently?

On Page 10 of the report, there's more detail about the key LMS systems being used by colleges in the US:

Table 1, Page 10, LMS Usage

  • Blackboard - their combined products make up almost half the market, because Blackboard, WebCT & Angel are now all owned by Blackboard
  • Moodle - with a fairly static 10% of the market
  • Desire2Learn - with a growing 7%

I think the change we're seeing in the chart is a reflection of the way that teaching style is evolving in tertiary education, and the changes in blended/online courses that are going to impact upon the way that learners learn and teachers teach - and the systems that are needed to support that.

Why do you think that so many institutions would consistently say that they are considering changing their underlying learning management system?