Reviving “Interesting Google Trends”, I thought I’d post this based on a conversation with Rob Schoch about Learning Management Systems (LMS’s, e.g. Moodle). I’ve been following these trends for a few years now but haven’t posted anything before this.
Google Trend since 2004 for Moodle…
There is a lot to unpack with this.
The first observation is that the jagged nature of the search popularity is likely caused by summer/fall. Searches go way down when school is out, then skyrocket as students try to find their LMS’s when they get back to school.
Moodle popularity peaked in 2014/15, but has dropped to 1/4 of that popularity (100 to 25) in the past 5 years.
Minnesota (likely due to District 287’s Northern Star Online) is the 4th most popular state for searches for Moodle. Go District 287!
The first question that comes to mind is what’s causing the decline? Things get more interesting when you add other popular LMS’s like Canvas (red) and Blackboard (yellow).
Here we can see the rise of the Canvas LMS over the past 5 years, and this would correlate with a number of Minnesota districts and schools (like U of M) who have switched from Moodle to Canvas. I didn’t include Schoology, which comes in third now but has largely plateaued in growth.
(There is an assumption here we’re making in that the “canvas” graph also contains searches for “canvas” the material and that the growth in searches is caused by the LMS. If we look back to 2004 we can see that even then “canvas” was more popular than moodle. Not until we get to 2007/08 can we see the search term “canvas” following the same shape as the other LMS lines.)
I don’t intend this thread to be a bashing of Moodle, as I love all the features it brings and how our district has tweaked, refined, and improved the experience over the past years. I’m very comfortable with Moodle and it serves us well.
Having said that, I get concerned that we might be ignoring some of the writing on the wall when I see how usage has shifted to Canvas and declined with both Moodle and Blackboard. Two years ago Canvas surpassed Blackboard as the most commonly searched LMS. So much of open source development depends on a vigorous community. I wonder if that be changing?