Oregon State University’s Learning Management System (LMS) migrated to Canvas in 2014-2015. The Canvas migration was based not only on the company’s feature alignment with our learning platform needs but also on the outstanding customer service Canvas Instructure has provided to our LMS user community including students, faculty, instructional designers, and administrators. How Canvas provides customer service offers an example we can model to continue to exceed student expectations.
According to Michael Feldstein’s July 8, 2018 report, major players in US LMS market include Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, Bright Space, Sakai, Schoology, and others (Feldstein, 2018).
Figure 1: US Primary LMS Systems, July 6th, 2018 (Feldstein, 2018)
Of these major players in the LMS field, Canvas is most noticeable with fastest growth in market share among U.S. and Canadian higher education institutions.
Figure 2. LMS Market Share for US and Canadian Higher Ed Institutions (Feldstein, 2018)
Different people suggest different criteria when comparing LMSs. Udutu.com provided a list of 7 things to think about before purchasing a LMS:
- Be clear on your learning and training objectives;
- Don’t be fooled by the high costs of an LMS;
- Know the limitations of your internal team and users;
- Pay for the features you need, not for what you might need;
- The latest new technology is not necessarily the best one;
- Customer support is everything; and
- Trust demos and trials over reviews, ratings and “industry experts”
(Udutu, 2016). Noud (2016) suggested the following ten factors to consider when selecting a LMS:
- Unwanted Features;
- Mobile Support;
- Integrations (APIs, SSO);
- Customer Support;
- Content Support;
- Approach to pricing;
- Product roadma;
- Scalability, Reliability and Security;
- Implementation Timeframe; and
- Hidden costs.
Christopher Pappas (2017) suggested 9 factors to consider when calculating your LMS budget:
- Upfront costs;
- LMS training;
- Monthly Or Annual Licensing Fees;
- Compatible eLearning Authoring Tools;
- Pay-per-User/Learner Fee;
- Upgrades and Add-Ons;
- Learning and Development Team Payroll;
- Online Training Development Costs; and
- Ongoing Maintenance.
Of all of the above lists, I like Udutu’s list the best because it matches with my personal experiences with LMS migrations.
I first used WebCT between 2005 and 2007, participated in migrating from WebCT Vista to Blackboard in 2008, and Angel to Blackboard migration in 2013-2014. During my seven years of using Blackboard as instructional designer and faculty support staff, my biggest complaint with Blackboard was its unexpected server outages during peak times such as beginning of the term and final’s weeks. In 2014, I moved to Oregon State University (OSU). The OSU community was looking for a new LMS in 2013 and started piloting Canvas in 2014. At the end of the pilot, instructor and student feedback was mostly positive. Not subject to local server outages, the cloud-based system was stable and had remained available to users throughout the pilot. Of course no LMS is perfect. But after careful comparison and feedback collection, we migrated from Blackboard to Canvas in 2015. So far in my four years of using Canvas, there has not been a single server outage. Canvas has the basic functionality of a LMS.
Canvas wanted to expand their market share by building up positive customer experiences. They were eager to please OSU and they provided us with 24/7 on-call customer service during our first two years of using Canvas, at a relatively reasonable price. The pilot users were all super satisfied with their customer service. Several instructors reported that they contacted Canvas hotline on Thanksgiving or Christmas, and their calls were answered immediately, and their issues were resolved.
Michael Feldstein (2018) summarized that Canvas’ “cloud-based offering, updated user interface, reputation for outstanding customer service and brash, in-you-face branding” have helped its steady rise in the LMS market share. As instructors and instructional designers, we can learn a lot from the CANVAS INSTRUCTURE’s success story and focus on improving the service we provide to our students, such as student success coaching, online recourses, online learning communities, etc. Would you agree with me on this? If you have specific suggestions on how to improve the way we serve our students, feel free to let us know (Tianhong.firstname.lastname@example.org ; @tianhongshi) !
Goldberg, M., Salari, S. & Swoboda, P. (1996) ‘World Wide Web – Course Tool: An Environment for Building WWW-Based Courses’ Computer Networks and ISDN Systems, 28:7-11 pp1219-1231
Feldstein, Michael. (2018). Canvas surpasses Blackboard Learn in US Market Share. E-Literate, July 8, 2018. Retrieved from https://mfeldstein.com/canvas-surpasses-blackboard-learn-in-us-market-share/ on February 2, 2019.
McKenzie, Lindsay. (2018). Canvas catches, and maybe passes, Blackboard. InsideHigherEd. July 10, 2018. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2018/07/10/canvas-catches-and-maybe-passes-blackboard-top-learning on February 2, 2019.
Moran, Gwen (October 2010). “The Rise of the Virtual Classroom”. Entrepreneur Magazine. Irvine, California. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
Noud, Brendan. (February 9, 2016). 10 Things to consider when selecting an LMS. Retrieved from https://www.learnupon.com/blog/top-10-considerations-when-selecting-a-top-lms/ on February 2, 2019.
Pappas, Christopher. (June 13, 2017). Top 9 Factors to consider when calculating Your LMS Budget. Retrieved from https://blog.lambdasolutions.net/top-9-factors-to-consider-when-calculating-your-lms-budget on February 2, 2019.
Udutu. (May 30, 2016). How to choose the best Learning Management System. Retrieved from https://www.udutu.com/blog/lms/ on February 2, 2019.
Wikipedia. (n.d.). WebCT. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebCT on February 2, 2019.