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Pearson recently announced that it will discontinue support for its learning management system (LMS), LearningStudio, in the next couple of years. This announcement follows on from Pearson's decision in 2015 to retire its other LMS, OpenClass, in January 2018. The company has found it increasingly difficult to compete and gain traction in what has become an increasingly crowded LMS market. Therefore, focusing its energies on its alternative product categories, such as learning resources, will be more profitable for Pearson. With a significant number of institutions going to market for a new LMS solution over the next 12 to 24 months, LMS providers have a clear window of opportunity to make gains in the higher education market. There is no time like the present for vendors to rethink their offerings, and for institutions to increase the strategic importance of online learning and the technology to support it.

This LMS change allows institutions to think outside the box when choosing partners for online learning

According to Ovum's 2015/16 ICT Enterprise Insights survey, Pearson was the third most used LMS, after Blackboard and Moodle, with 10.6% of institutions leveraging the solution. This means that a significant number of institutions globally will go to market for a new LMS solution when LearningStudio and OpenClass reach end-of-life over the next few years. Given this market share, it is somewhat surprising that Pearson is exiting. However, it will continue to invest in course materials and products that have a direct impact on student outcomes, and which have a higher return on investment (ROI) for the company. In Ovum's view, LMS tools have been highly successful in enabling the administration of learning, but less so in enabling learning itself. Tools such as the grade book and mechanisms for distributing materials (e.g., the syllabus) contribute only indirectly, at best, to learning success. Therefore, going forward, it makes sense for Pearson to invest in products that will specifically enable learning success because this is what institutions want and need.

Pearson is not endorsing alternate solutions, and although there will be some apprehension with regard to support levels from the company, institutions should not feel anxious. For the institutions that choose to continue to run the Pearson software, it is likely that a new market for consultants will be created. Ovum recommends that institutions should take the next phase of LMS purchasing as an opportunity to cultivate more substantive partner relationships, while reenvisioning the best approach to online learning. Searching beyond traditional LMS solutions and choosing a flexible online learning platform (OLP) that enables learning success will allow institutions to deliver a much different model for online teaching and learning. Moreover, vendors will be receptive to institutions that are willing to extend a hand in partnership to figure out the best path forward.


Further reading

Hobsons' acquisition of PAR will boost its capacity to support student retention and outcomes, IT0008-000263 (February 2016)

Blackboard currently leads the pack – but what will happen in the world of online learning in 2016? IT0008-000260 (January 2016)

Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting an Online Learning Platform for Higher Education, 2015–16, IT0008-000245 (September 2015)


Navneet Johal, Research Analyst, Education Technology

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