Canvascon 2018 – LMS and eLearning Conference

We recently had the privilege of attending the annual European conference of one of the world’s leading providers of Learning Management Systems (LMS). Canvascon (so titled after the Canvas LMS offered by Instructure, Inc, the US EduTech giant) gathered around 1000 top European educators and educational technology providers in a lively 1-day event in London.

Below, we discuss some of the key takeaways of this amazing event.

The importance of the role of LMS providers in the academic space

Although LMSs have been around in one form or another for many years, their sophistication and popularity have grown hand-in-hand with the rise of e-learning. Used by both corporate and academic institutions, LMSs act as a digital interface between learner and organization and ensure that any instructional content:

  • coherently integrates with an organization’s overall training infrastructure
  • is easy for instructors to administer
  • is simple for learners to access, whether for classroom-based or online courses
  • allows for straightforward performance monitoring and feedback

In the academic space, LMSs are used in primary, secondary and higher education. Certainly, one of the things that stood out at Canvascon was the number of secondary school administrators and teachers present – LMSs are certainly not just the purview of universities.

The importance of Canvas in the academic LMS market

Thanks to meteoric growth since its creation in 2011, Instructure’s academic LMS, Canvas, is now, alongside Blackboard and Moodle (the opensource alternative), one of the global market leaders in the LMS space. Since 2015, Canvas has been stablemates with Bridge, Instructure’s Corporate LMS offering, and Instructure has gone public.

Having started in response to some of the perceived shortfalls of the then incumbent, Blackboard, the Canvas platform arguably has many of the advantages of being a disruptor, and a lot of the users that we met at the conference mentioned the simplicity of the student-teacher interface, and the variety of teacher-friendly tools available in the ecosystem.

We were particularly impressed by the in-roads that Canvas has made into the European Higher Education market, with a strong-to-dominant footprint in all the major jurisdictions, particularly in Scandinavia.

The number and quality of 3rd party tech-providers in the Canvas ecosystem

We met many 3rd party technology companies that broadly fell into one of two categories. First, are what we would call the integrators: these were consulting firms focused on helping academic institutions with the integration and adoption of new LMS platforms. Second, were EduTech software developers, focused on developing specific tools to aid teachers in the delivery and assessment of courses. Almost all of these 3rd party tech providers work with multiple LMS providers and across multiple territories, helping to create a complex network of e-learning tools for teachers and learners.

As a provider of e-learning materials, Canvascon was a fun and interesting mix. If you’re interested in Learning Management Systems and/or Canvas, visit the Canvas homepage to learn about the upcoming 2019 InstructureCon.