Learning Management Systems in Canada

Canada has a long history with learning management systems. As you might already know, WebCT was originally developed at the University of British Columbia by a faculty member in computer science, Murray Goldberg. Another Canadian eLearning company, Desire2Learn, was founded by John Baker in 1999 after identifying his own unfulfilled need for learning online while studying Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo. However, this post is not about Canadian companies, but rather the LMS that are used by Canadian colleges and universities.

A brief history of the Learning Management System in Canada

Once WebCT was introduced in early 1996, Canadian HigherEd institutions selected it as the de facto system to be used. As you can see in the first graph below, almost 70% of Canadian colleges and universities were using WebCT right before it was purchased by Blackboard at the end of 2005. At that time, Blackboard had just under 20% of the LMS market share and Moodle was just starting (5%).

Following the WebCT purchase, institutions migrated to Moodle and, to a lesser degree, to Brightspace (D2L). Blackboard was not very successful in retaining its new (purchased) customers. Since 2003, Blackboard's Canadian market share stayed mostly flat. We do see a slight rise from 2008 to 2010 caused in part by the phasing out of the WebCT product line. But Blackboard's market share never rose above 22% even after it purchased Angel (a small player in Canadian HigherEd).

The Canadian migration to the open source system Moodle was in part out of frustration of being imposed the change. Blackboard was seen as a big bad company and the majority of our (mostly left of the political spectrum) professors did not want to give in.

A few other observations:

  • Brightspace (D2L) has seen a slow but steady rise in its market share, and has recently overtaken Blackboard in total clients.

  • Sakai, Homegrown and Angel systems have never taken more than a few percentage points of the market compared to the US LMS market.

Learning Management System in Canada - HigherEd

Learning Management System in Canada - HigherEd

Canada vs US LMS Market Shares

Contrary to the US market share that is dominated by Blackboard, Canada has a strong preference for Moodle. This is in part because of the CEGEP system (50 or so institutions) that has selected to use Moodle as its default system.

Like the US market, Canadian Blackboard share is slowly falling. Some of this can be explained by its lack of delivery on its new version (see e-Literate).

Another difference with the US market where Canvas is being adopted at a high level, is that this system is only starting to make its mark on the Canadian HigherEd market. Some issues, like having the system hosted in the US, should be corrected shortly.

Learning Management System in Canada vs US - HigherEd

Learning Management System in Canada vs US - HigherEd

New Implementations of Learning Management Systems in Canada

New LMS implementations are currently dominated by D2L. We can see that Canvas has started to get a foothold in the Canadian market, and has the only Canvas self-hosted open source implementations (OCADU and Simon Fraser University).

We expect to have more Canvas vs Brightspace showdowns in the coming years as both systems are shortlisted as possible LMS replacements for Canadian colleges and universities.

Yearly Implementations for Learning Management System - Canada

Yearly Implementations for Learning Management System - Canada

We have been working hard these last few months to improve our data and our services. Stay tuned... more information within a few weeks.

Update: We’re going to be releasing an LMS market dynamics report, in partnership with the guys from e-Literate. To get more information, please look at the following two posts: