Free LMS or Open Source LMS used in Higher Ed

Oftentimes, the choice for a new Learning Management System (LMS) is dictated by cost considerations. That requirement will divide the choices at your HigherEd institution’s disposal. We’re proposing below an exploration of those 2 distinct markets: proprietary LMS and free LMS / open source LMS.

Splitting the LMS Market Between Open Source and Proprietary

Dominating Players in Each Market

Of the more than 6000 active LMS entries we have in our records for worldwide institutions, the split between the use of open source vs proprietary LMS is almost 50/50.

Worldwide Proprietary LMS vs OpenSource

Worldwide Proprietary LMS vs OpenSource

World Proprietary vs Open Source

For each market, one vendor dominates its category with 60% of market occupation or more. Blackboard dominates the proprietary market while Moodle leads the open source market.

North America’s Adoption of Proprietary LMS

Our 50/50 split is worldwide, but each geographical market has their own distinctions. For North America, proprietary LMS vendors occupy 61% of the overall market, leaving only 39% to open source.

The Proprietary Market

The top 3 open source LMS used in North America are:

  • Blackboard Learn (57.4%) is the most used LMS in North American Higher education.

  • Brightspace-D2L (18%) used by a high percentage of public institutions

  • eCollege (6.8%) Mostly used by smaller higherEd institutions

The Open Source Market (Free LMS)

The top 3 open source LMS used in North America are:

  • Moodle (59.8%) is by far the biggest and most adopted LMS. Its not only the most widely accepted free LMS in HigherEd but its also the most accepted LMS worldwide. The official site states that it has almost 50,000 Registered sites and used in 214 countries.

  • Canvas (30%) in February 2011, Instructure announced that they were making their flagship product, Canvas, freely available under an AGPL license as open source software. It is the fastes growing LMS in HigherED

  • Sakai (9.7%) Over 80% of its users are Higher Ed Institutions

Top Open Source LMS or Free LMS

Top Open Source LMS or Free LMS

Open Source LMS HigherEd

Regional Distribution by Type of LMS Adoptions

Follows a map of the different type of LMS that are currently active in North America. We can see that there are regional clusters of adoption of proprietary vs open source systems.

North America Open Source vs Proprietary LMS

North America Open Source vs Proprietary LMS

Adoption by Institutional Characteristics

Because not all HigherEd institutions are the same, we should look at how the market is split between proprietary vs open source LMS based on institutional attributes.

Proprietary LMS vs Open Source LMS or Free LMS

Proprietary LMS vs Open Source LMS or Free LMS

Proprietary vs Open Source LMS

A few notes:

  • Private not-for-profit institutions have a higher then average usage of Open source LMS

  • Institutions with smaller total enrolment have a higher % or Open source LMS

  • Institutions with the largest endowment use more Opens source then average

We’re only scratching the surface here. LISTedTECH provides an unprecedented access to the best LMS market data out there.