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Please Push Back on my D2L & Sakai Biases
October 30, 2011 - 11:45pm

I'm hoping that the Desire2Learn (D2L) and Sakai folks among our IHE community will tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about. When it comes to the LMS (or really anything in life), where you stand is where you sit. I've been on Blackboard for 10 years now (across 2 different institutions and in roles ranging from instructor to learning designer to program manager), so naturally I'm biased toward what I know best. I tend to see the LMS race as falling out between 3 competitors (and 3 models): Blackboard, Moodle and Instructure.  (Yes, I'm fascinated by the potential of Pearson's OpenClass - but today this is only potential in my mind).

My limited worldview leaves out Desire2Learn and Sakai, blinders based I suspect more on ignorance than fact.  Hoping you can help.

Desire2Learn Biases:

Reach:  The Campus Computing Project reports that D2L is holding "steady with about 10 percent of the market." The thing is, I don't know (personally) any of the people running D2L. The client list is pretty impressive  - so I wonder if this is again my lack of knowledge vs. a true lack of reach. When it comes to an LMS, a community of practice is vitally important.  We want to be able to exchange information and best practices with colleagues. Is a steady 10 percent too small (and too static) to encourage new adoptions? And I worry about LMS vendors claiming that "higher ed clients" when the adoption is not enterprise (i.e. - integrated with the SIS). I'm not saying that D2L is making these claims, it is just something I always wonder about when seeing a client list.

Model:  I have trouble understanding where D2L's model differs from Blackboard's. My sense is that the value proposition is around service, and less around usability, features and design. But maybe I'm wrong? I look at D2L as an alternative to the proprietary, campus served (non cloud) LMS - a stand-alone system not built like Instructure to be cloud based and integrated with Web 2.0 services (like Google Apps).  Nor is D2L an open source, if vendorized, LMS like Moodle. The switching from an existing LMS arguments seems to me most persuasive when this involves a switching of models, not just products. But again, I could be wrong about this thinking.

Sakai Biases:

Traction:  On the open source LMS front, it seems that Moodle has supplanted Sakai in terms of growth, community size, and vendor support. I just hear less about Sakai nowadays than I hear about Moodle. Nor do I see big vendors in the Sakai service space such as I see with MoodleRooms. The idea of open source is extremely attractive, as ever increasing licensing fees are scary and I'd rather spend those dollars on local developers and integrators. But, in my mind, Moodle has emerged as the best open source option - so I'm wondering what I'm missing.

Challenges:  The other thing that worries me about Sakai, perhaps unreasonably, is that it seems that a productive Sakai implementation requires a big local programmer / developer commitment as well.  I see Sakai as a platform that comes with a high bar in terms of both contributing back to the Sakai community and integrating the LMS into existing campus resources.  Is this your experience?

What are your LMS biases?  

 

 

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