Resources and Research

The following linked sources provide background and information regarding the role an LMS currently fills in higher education and future considerations.

The Current Ecosystem of Learning Management Systems in Higher Education: Student, Faculty, and IT Perspectives

Eden Dahlstrom, D. Christopher Brooks, and Jacqueline Bichsel

Research report. Louisville, CO: ECAR, September 2014. Available from

This research report is good for student and faculty input on expectations and needs. It also provides input on what could be improved about current LMS solutions to help improve teaching and learning. Finally, it argues that the changing technology landscape means that mobile access to a future LMS is a necessity, given students' expectations to learn using their mobile devices.

Selecting an LMS: Questions to Consider (PDF)

Clayton R. Wright, Valerie Lopes, T. Craig Montgomerie, Sunday A. Reju, and Seb Schmoller

This comprehensive list of questions and issues to consider when choosing an LMS product provides in-depth information about what should be considered in order to pick the best LMS for our institutional needs. Topics such as Background, Course Design Features, and Teaching and Learning Tools, as well as many more, are discussed.

What's Next for the LMS? (PDF)

Malcolm Brown, Joanne Dehoney, and Nancy Millichap

In this article from EDUCAUSE Review Malcolm Brown, the EDUCAUSE Director, and two other EDUCAUSE staff members discuss the current state of the LMS and what can be expected of the LMS of the future and if it will even exist in the future.

As part of their coverage, they discuss how “the LMS has been highly successful in enabling the administration of learning but less so in enabling learning itself” and how future systems need to follow the trend where “Higher education is moving away from its traditional emphasis on the instructor, however, replacing this emphasis with a focus on learning and the learner.” Consequently, “the challenge is to build on the value of the LMS as an administrative tool by retaining what works but not be bound to an outgoing model of teaching and learning.” As part of this effort, the term next generation digital learning environment (NGDLE) has been adopted by EDUCUASE to describe what should come after the LMS.

The article goes on to discuss the details of what can be expected of the NGDLE, such as

  • Interoperability and Integration
  • Personalization
  • Analytics, Advising, and Learning Assessment
  • Collaboration
  • Accessibility and Universal Design

Back To The Future: Looking at LMS forecasts from 2011 – 2014

Phil Hill

If you would like a short overview of the direction of the LMS market over the past 5-6 years, this post by Phil Hill is worth exploring. In it, he discusses his own predictions and analyses of the market since 2011 with links to his blog posts. This post provides a good overview of the kinds of changes the LMS market has seen and helps lay out its future direction. As an example, see the following quote from the beginning of the post, which discusses the move away from the LMS as the sole provider of all features to a learning platform that integrates a variety of other services while retaining only some of the core features of today's LMS.

  • Learning Platforms are next-generation technology compared to legacy LMS solutions arising in the late 1990’s / early 2000’s. While many features are shared between legacy LMS and learning platforms, the core designs are not constrained by the course-centric, walled-garden approach pioneered by earlier generations.
  • Learning Platforms tend to be SaaS (software as a service) offerings, based in a public or private cloud on multi-tenant designs. Rather than being viewed as an enterprise application to be set up as a customized instance for each institution, there is a shared platform that supports multiple customers, leveraging a shared technology stack, database, and application web services.
  • Learning Platforms are intended to support and interoperate with multiple learning and social applications, and not just as extensions to the enterprise system, but as a core design consideration.