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Higher education software provider Ellucian's plans for the next two years include transitioning to the cloud and preparing for more colleges and universities to experiment with competency-based learning.

At its user conference in New Orleans, Ellucian announced the acquisition of Helix Education's learning management system. The company will "blend" the software, which supports nontraditional methods of tracking student progress, into its student information system, said Mark Jones, chief product officer at Ellucian. While he stressed that the company is not planning to become a major learning management system provider, Ellucian will make the system available to departments interested in offering competency-based education.

"The initial goal and focus is on enabling competency-based education programs to flourish," Jones said. "In terms of being a broader L.M.S. solution, if our customers find value… we will certainly have that conversation."

Ellucian also announced plans to offer its full enterprise resource planning software, Banner and Colleague, as cloud-hosted services. The option to host the software in the cloud, rather than on campus, will be rolled out incrementally and completed by the end of 2016. Ellucian already offers some products, such as its recruitment and continuing education software, in the cloud.

Jones said he expects higher education will be slower to move to the cloud than the commercial sector, and that the transition would take "the better part of a decade."