Instructure made news this month with it’s IPO, where it raised over $70 million USD to fund its push to become the premier learning management system worldwide. The war chest will help to fund sales, development, and growth as it aims at capturing and establishing a market lead in North American and starts to make a push internationally.
Moodle’s market lead and worldwide position as the most widely used and leading open source learning management system is not necessarily in jeopardy, but it will take funding and sound strategic judgement to ensure that it continues to cater to its base while attracting new users and organizations. Continuing to hold, and grow, its marketshare will require continued improvement and modernization of its user interface, relevant and useful content and plugin integrations, new Moodle Partners and continued core development… all while maintaining the lowest barrier to entry of all learning management systems on the market.
At Moodlenews, we’ve followed the growth of Moodle and its competitors since 2009. Over the last 6 years, we’ve happily contributed to the lasting dominance of Moodle and believe our favorite LMS is both exactly where it should be and is well positioned to make gains. One of the more exciting initiatives we’ve been following is the Moodle Users Association (MUA), which is set to launch this December.
As mentioned recently in an article on e-Literate, it’s possible that a majority of all funding to Moodle.org originates from Blackboard. While this may be ironic, knowing the history of Blackboard, it is appropriate since the LMS company has quietly become the largest Moodle Partner by number of clients through acquisitions and growth over the last few years.
The Moodle Partner network is the lifeblood of Moodle HQ/Moodle.com and funds all of the full-time staff at Moodle HQ. Ten percent of all profit from Moodle partners is contributed back to fund the HQ’s staff, who then in turn organize developers around the world, coordinate QA cycles, keep releases on schedule, provide training and a free trial option for individual Moodle users.
In early 2015, Martin Dougiamas unveiled a plan to diversify Moodle funding by garnering support from non-Moodle Partners: organizations, users, and schools who were interested in contributing to Moodle.org, but were not providing Moodle related services, and perhaps wanted to get a little more out of contributions than a strict donation might give. The MUA is scheduled to kick off this December with it’s inaugural committee and funding which will be used to drive, in part, the development of the Moodle project through a democratic mechanism.
MUA Anticipation – Our Survey Results
As you may know, we’ve been surveying our audience for the last few months to learn whether or not they expect to become MUA members, the projects they believe the MUA should tackle first, and the levels at which they expect to join.
Quick survey facts:
- More than 300 individuals completed our survey through 11/24/2015
- 63% of respondents plan to join the MUA
The most popular project for the MUA to tackle was Learning Analytics (a Moot Workshop project) followed by Gradebook enhancement, then Outcomes/Competency Based Education Framework (note that the latter is the main roadmap item for 3.1 currently).
Sixty-three percent of our survey respondents indicated they were interested in joining the MUA in some capacity. That 63% breaks down to the following level of interest:
- 70% joining as individuals ($100)
- 23% joining as small organizations ($500)
- 4% joining as medium organizations ($2,500), and
- 2% joining as large organizations ($10,000)
MUA Projections – The MUA Potential
Market Cap for Funding
From this research, and using some basic math¹, we’re confident we can set an estimated
market cap a possibility for the contribution the MUA will have to Moodle.org on an annual basis. Here’s how we did it:
- As stated above, we had a small slice of the community submit their survey responses (albeit and admittedly an active slice).
- We then extrapolated our survey results based on the number of registered Moodle sites (according to Moodle.org/stats), which suggests that there are over 64,000 sites worldwide that 1. Moodle.org has an email for the administrator and 2. who might be willing and interested in joining the MUA.
If 63% of all registered sites could be converted to paying members, we approximate that the
market cap crowdfunding of the MUA is $21,000,000 annually.
It will definitely take some time for the Association to maximize its development efforts. But a sum of this size would help Moodle remain competitive in today’s ed tech and learning management system landscape.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Ultimately, attracting, engaging and retaining due paying members of the MUA will be a significant challenge. This mandate will rest squarely on the shoulder of the first MUA committee. We’re eager to help usher in this new era for Moodle funding and will definitely be participating in the MUA in whatever capacity we can. Particularly exciting is the direct alignment between funding, membership, and the development priorities of the Moodle project which should be closer than they ever have through the new structure.
Will you join us?
¹This is a link to our basic math if you want to follow along: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1DyLP9CqtOci-Eu5MuEpkovBWKL1Z8n2A1b3K7c-GwMA/edit?usp=sharing
Updated 12/4: I’ve removed a few mentions to “market cap” which may not be the best terminology since the MUA is about crowdfunding not valuation.