Ontario has had a large push in integrating e-learning opportunities using a provincial LMS system. For any company looking at making a move into a large-scale, provincial rollout, there is no client currently better than the Ministry of Education in Ontario. As explained in the article, the use of LMS systems in Ontario schools has grown from 12% in 2005 to 96% by 2014. Today, it is difficult to find a class or school that is not using the provincial LMS is some way, shape or form.
Why is this a venture for firms? Simply put, it is too good an opportunity to pass up. In the last provincial contract, awarded to Desire2Learn, cost taxpayers $4 million dollars. The problem lies in the fact that the contract awarded was small compared to the 1.8 BILLION spent in the United States during the same period.
The problem is that the current LMS does not have the functionality or integration needed for 21C learning in Ontario. Schools are still split on using Google Apps for Educators and Office 365. Boards think they’re saving money by using GAFE rather than Office, but in actuality they’re still paying through the consent that data and analytics are used by Google collected through school accounts.
This leaves us with a newer LMS that has been gaining traction in Ontario. Allow me to introduce Edsby. What sets this new player on the stage apart from the previous applications is the ability to integrate the various platforms into an interface that is solely for the Ontario curriculum. This usability has surprisingly pushed some of Ontario’s largest boards to move away from the provincially-supplied (and cost-free) LMS to Edsby as a means of delivering content. Rather than showcasing something that looks like Google Sites circa 2010, Edsby delivers content in a social-media-like format that is recognizable to students and staff alike. As well, its customizable on various levels that allow delivery to the diverse range of student in Ontario scattered over thousands of kilometres. There’s a reason why Edsby has won numerous awards.
I intend on following Edsby closely as Ontario is in the midst of securing a new contract with an LMS provider. The new contract was to be awarded by 2016, but due to complications the contract was extended to D2L on a year-to-year basis. Due to this, many boards have since moved to Edsby and the list continues to grow.