For decades now, digital technological innovations have had a tremendous effect on how teaching and learning are conducted. The exponential growth in developments in information and communications technology (ICT) has expanded and optimized teaching techniques, allowed different pedagogical approaches to flourish, and extended the reach of education.
One such byproduct of edtech or educational technology is the emergence of learning management systems (LMS), software applications that bring together academic programs, subject study guides, and training materials such as quintessential reading lists in one platform. The introduction of LMS to the education sector has brought on a positive impact on learners and instructors alike. LMS programs have helped create, adapt, distribute, and manage elearning practices.
On that note, this article delves further into the adoption of LMS programs on a global scale. The latest statistics below on the LMS market, adoption, usage, accessibility, and its impact on the education sector shall provide insights into the current state of the LMS industry and where it’s headed in the near future.
The first LMS program can be traced back to 1924 when psychology professor Sidney Pressey invented the first electronic teaching device. The contraption resembled a typewriter with a window that administers multiple-choice questions to students. According to Pressy, the main idea behind this teaching device is to allow teachers to focus on more inspirational and thought-stimulating activities for their students (Pressey, 1926, as cited in Kadosh & Dowker, 2015). Since then, LMS applications have become increasingly popular in the academe, enabling educators and learners to access educational resources in a variety of formats including the incorporation of digital storytelling examples for different topics.
Latest market research (Global Opportunity Analysis, n.d.) reveals that the LMS market will reach a value of $28.1 billion by the end of 2025. The LMS market has been propelled forward by a number of factors: the extensive government initiatives for growth of LMS, the increasing adoption of digital learning, the growing inclination toward bring-your-own-device policies, and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in LMS. As a result, revenues for the key players in the global LMS market are continuously increasing.
Source: eLiterate (2018)
ICT innovations and the popularization of LMS programs have led to radical changes in the education sector. In today’s knowledge-based economy, the adoption of LMS has enhanced the teaching and learning environment. A growing number of educational institutions all over the world have started taking advantage of LMS platforms to provide a more effective learning method for students. Also, teachers can take advantage of flexible course authoring tools complete with screen recording tools and useful performance monitoring features.
The usage of LMS has become a requirement for many universities and educational institutions in different parts of the world. To cater to the increasing educational needs of students and staff, a growing number of educational institutions have turned to the use of information and communication technologies to develop distance education programs.
LMS adoption in North America is spreading far and wide as educational institutions and corporate sectors alike start to deploy LMS solutions to enhance the learning experience. Based on a report by Zion Market Research (Learning Management System Market, 2017), North America dominates the learning management system adoption due to the increasing demand for effective and quality education.
The growing mobile adoption in Latin America is translating into endless opportunities for the edtech sector. As such, the elearning market in Latin America has witnessed considerable growth in the years 2016 to 2020 (E-learning Market Trends, 2020), and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14% in the next five years.
The demand for corporate learning has also contributed to the increasing adoption of LMS in Latin America. As markets and industries become more globalized, businesses turn to online learning platforms to facilitate corporate training and keep up with the accelerated evolution of a global economy.
One study from Endeavor INSIGHT EdTech (An Overview of Edtech, 2019) also reveals that the simplicity of studying online and job opportunities are among the top reasons for the increasing adoption of online educational resources in Latin America.
In Europe, online education is increasingly becoming popular as more European universities have started offering online degrees to international students. Educational institutions providing short courses and full degree programs are experiencing continued success, with enrollment figures rising year by year. According to the data published by Eurostat (Online Courses, 2019), Finland emerges as the top country with most individuals taking at least one form of an online course, followed by the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Spain.
LMS adoption in the Asia Pacific region is being driven by the increasing demand for elearning and the inclination towards on-the-go learning practices. Improvement in educational resources and economic progress in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region are also expected to drive the adoption of LMS platforms in the near future.
Education is a primary foundation of Africa’s development. In an attempt to improve the learning effectiveness, an increasing number of African countries have adopted elearning practices. As a result, Africa has emerged as a booming market of elearning and LMS platforms.
Despite Africa’s progress in LMS adoption, however, challenges that hinder effective LMS implementation continue to exist. While online learning poses a potential to improve the quality of education in Africa, factors such as Internet access, availability of online curriculum, and lack of teacher training hamper the success of LMS adoption in African countries.
For higher education institutions, adopting an LMS platform cannot be done in haste. In fact, there are a number of considerations that need to be taken care of for successful LMS adoption, such as design, ease of use, and mobile compatibility, among others.
Kizilcec et al. (2017) underscore the need to first offer sufficient guidance and support to LMS users, both teachers and learners. Providing exclusive guidance and support may prove to be highly challenging as the number of LMS users continues to increase (Araka et al., 2020).
To accelerate LMS adoption, L&D professionals continue to find ways to simplify LMS programs and improve user adoption.
Source: Docebo (2019)
By definition, an LMS is a software application that is used to deliver training programs and education courses. Colleges and universities are adopting LMS programs to enable online and distance learning. Through LMS platforms, educational institutions can manage and deliver online courses to off-site students.
Aside from academic purposes, LMS platforms are also widely used in a corporate context. HR professionals rely on LMS solutions to train employees and managers, while entrepreneurs use them to gain crash courses in marketing, accounting, and other short-term, skills-based courses.
LMS platforms are also popular among hobbyists and self-learners. Today, there are a number of learning applications that offer modules on crafts, photography, blogging, gardening, carpentry, exercising, and other self-taught skills and hobbies.
Source: Office for National Statistics (2019)
Accessibility and availability are some of the most important factors for a successful LMS adoption, which is why it is important for schools, universities, and organizations to ensure accessibility of the LMS platforms they are using. With most LMS platforms being cloud-based, they have become easily accessible for users, whether they are using laptops, tablets, or mobile devices. Over the years, however, mobile learning has become more common, and LMS developers have applied multi-device compatibility for their frameworks.
Educational institutions today take advantage of technologies to cope with modernization and enable institutional transformation. In the latest Global Education Census Report (New Global Survey, 2019), it was revealed that the usage of technology in schools worldwide continues to grow, with 48% of students using desktop computers in the classroom, 42% using smartphones, 33% using interactive whiteboards, and 20% using tablet devices.
In recent years, LMS played a pivotal role in higher education’s teaching models. That being said, a number of trends can be observed in the elearning space, such as the rise of MOOC platforms, personalized learning experience, the transition of LMS to learning experience platforms (LXP), and mobile learning.
Massive Open Online courses, or MOOCs, are online courses offered by higher education institutions to enable accessible and affordable remote learning opportunities for students all over the world. Universities like Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology provide such online courses on a variety of topics at varying educational levels. Compared to earlier online degrees, MOOC-based degrees have lower fees, more flexible schedules, and easier registrations.
Today, there are around 900 universities in the world offering MOOC-based degrees, with around 2000 courses added by the end of 2018 (Shah, 2019). The leading MOOC providers are Coursera with 37 million registered users, edX with 18 million users, and XuetangX with 14 million users. Due to the demand for shorter courses and more flexible schedules, the number of MOOCs has grown dramatically in the last few years.
Source: EdSurge (2018)
The ever-increasing mobile adoption is prompting educational institutions to rethink their learning strategies and develop learning programs for mobile devices. Mobile-enabled learning programs are becoming more in demand, especially with the tech-savvy Millenials and Gen-Zers overtaking the worldwide student population.
A number of studies have proven the benefits of mobile learning. In a study published in the Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, the top benefits of mobile learning include enhanced knowledge acquisition, updated educational resources, and verified information.
The demand for mobile learning resulted in its growth, with the market currently valued at $27.32 billion in 2020 and is poised to grow at a CAGR of 36.45% from 2020 to 2027 (Mobile Learning Market Size, n.d.).
Over the years, the interest in personalized learning has grown across a number of educational institutions. It is now fueling the multi-million dollar edtech industry and is becoming a focus for philanthropy. Since 2009, when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation allotted $300 million to fund research and development for personalized learning, many studies have been devoted to prove its effectiveness in the traditional classroom setting.
Source: Klein (2019)
Several years ago, startup companies, such as Degreed, Edcast, and Pathgather pioneered the idea of a next-generation learning portal that makes training content easy to find. This gave rise to LXPs, which are collaborative platforms that place learning under the control of the user rather than the administrator.
LXPs and LMS programs have two distinctive objectives. An LMS relies heavily on the administrator to manage learning, while an LXP provides learners with the total freedom to explore learning materials and discover the content appropriate for their learning level. Basically, LXPs are upgraded versions of LMS programs, in the sense that they provide knowledge management, content management, and learning system under a single platform.
LXPs are increasingly becoming popular, and more organizations are gradually transitioning from the usage of LMS programs to LXPs.
Over the years, the education sector has undergone many radical transformations. The shift to digital learning approaches has made a profound impact on the way colleges and universities deliver course content and educational resources. The birth of LMS has enabled elearning, and more developments are coming along as the education sector adapts new technologies to improve content delivery.
Continuous, life-long learning must be ensured to help learners gain new skills and knowledge. To do so, a learning environment should be designed to provide personalized and flexible training programs that address the specific needs of every learner (Change & Guetl, 2007). A holistic and ecological learning approach should be implemented to enhance learning systems and ensure these systems can adapt to upcoming advancements in education and technology (Redmond & Macfadyen, 2020).
The expanding use of technology in the education sector is no doubt becoming more pronounced today, and the LMS industry is expected to grow in the years to come. The adoption of digital learning and the expanding need for quality education are only some of the factors driving growth in the LMS space and transforming the entire academic space. On the other hand, upcoming technological breakthroughs, such as mobile learning and the use of AI and ML in academic learning setups, can provide the education sector with the right tools to curate a modernized learning module for the future that is heavily geared towards digital learning.