The cloud revolution is firmly underway in the LMS space. The development of cloud-based applications, platforms and solutions does not differ from the general global migration of enterprise software. As a result, LMS companies have introduced cloud-based version of their portfolios.
That is, if they have not thrown away their whole strategy to devote themselves to the cloud entirely.
On the AWS ring
Which means the cloud space is where it’s at, increasingly. AWS dominates the field for years, but this fact alone could conceal the dynamism taking place.
It is true that the AWS (Amazon Cloud Services) cloud has commoditized hosting. Companies can no longer rely on the capacity and performance of their servers as their unique value proposition. The same goes for skills like reliability and load balancing, which can now be requested on demand. Going forward, however, one can only expect that the economies of scale peak, after which it will be impossible for AWS to reduce prices further without compromising other parts of the business. Barring new technological disruptions or external factors, it should await a more dynamic cloud marketplace. Many argue this is already happening.
Nevertheless, AWS will not likely lose the crown before the end of next year, let alone this one. Let’s take a look at the LMS and learning environments currently available in the AWS marketplace.
Instructure Canvas LMS
The “intuitive” user experience, allegedly the state of the art in the LMS vector, provides simple-to-follow workflows that underlie a powerful engine to manage large userbases.
It currently has a 1-star rating , but they have been given more than three years ago. Ratings (and ratings websites) have consistently proven to be unreliable for the LMS procurement process.
Vidya Mantra KeyToSchool (Moodle-based)
This Texas-based Moodle Partner for the US and India offers an AWS service as well as their own server infrastructure, located in Dallas, which they claim its as reliable and scalable as AWS. You can choose vanilla Moodle with them, or their KeyToSchool custom flavor, which focuses on simplicity.
While the listing on the AWS marketplace indicates the KeyToSchool version is based on Moodle 3.3, their proposition guarantees the latest version of the Open largest LMS and any third-party plugin, theme and module added.
To the surprise of many, the formerly promising mesh of groundbreaking LMS technology and expert learning content delivery is still remnant in the cloud.
After three years of steady decline followed by promising news, the company, which focuses on learning tracks for technology careers, might defy expectations by losing less than what the consensus predicts for the second quarter, also an improvement from the losses in the previous one.
Pluralsigth on AWS is available for an annual license rate of $779 per user, plus the regular use of the cloud instance.
EDUonGo Learning Platform
A not very well known contender, EDUonGo grew from a homebrew solution for internal, prêt-à-porter needs to an affordable learning solution, useful for short-ongoing learning and international teams. His creator promises it will prevent the “headaches” that come with Moodle.
Smartsparrow Adaptive eLearning Platform
Focused on “Adaptive Courseware,” this LMS by a “design passionate team” features a learning platform connected to a creation Studio that lets you integrate interactivity and real-time data. (The Studio may not be available on the AWS cloud version.)
Try some demos here: smartsparrow.com/demos
Piazza Q&A Platform
An apparently simple, wiki-style Question-Answer environment with several features that enhance the process: Endorsed posts, student-to-student learning, instructor feedback and more. Math and general STEM subject educators might enjoy the LaTeX and blocking integration. It promises to deliver an experience up to code with the latest accessibility standards, including FERPA.
Bitnami provides virtual environments for popular applications, ensuring “industry standards,” security and up-to-date availability of components.
Blackboard Learn for REST and LTI Developers
Pricing and getting started on AWS
To get any of these services up on running on the amazon cloud, all you need to do is sign up for an EC2 instance of Amazon Web Services. A free, low user tier is available for free. With the EC2 instance active, all you have to do is launch the service through an Amazon Image. If the service needs additional licensing, you might need to sign up on an external website for purchase, and follow image authentication instructions.
While one of the advantages of the cloud is also the pay-as-you-go structure, many of the services listed do demand annual contracts.