What Will It Take For D2L To ‘Wake Up’ In The LMS Race? Spoiler Alert: They’re Wide Awake

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For many people, causes and economies, the 2010s was a laggard. For Canadian EdTech company D2L the past few years could fall into the same sloth-like rythm. Trying to brand itself as “worry-free” technology, the company cloud-based LMS Brightspace should consider its own product as the global market is set to keep on leaping ahead.

What sets D2L Brightspace apart from other LMS?

D2L offers a cloud-based standard solution hosted by Amazon Web Services, with customization options and extensions via integrators. As it is proprietary software, it

In what elearning veterans call an age of “future parity” among the top LMS, Brightspace would seem to be the last one to make it into the club, which includes Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle and (for some) Sakai. In this state, you can count on a solid experience where the average user has not much to miss from any other LMS. They all listen to each other and catch up within a matter of most, with Canvas LMS often leading on the ease of use front, and Moodle in sheer features.

Doesn’t D2L’s great new UI look quite a bit “Moodle-y”?

Having said that, there is nothing we could personally highlight as Brightspace’s unique value proposition. It might be favored over Moodle by faculties and team lacking technical skills, but Canvas looks like a better choice. A possibility could be that its experience is simple enough to use, at a price point slightly lower than Canvas. D2L does not provide pricing publicly. We might have to ask a sales rep.

Regarding technological innovation, there is little to work with coming from the senior leadership. In some of the few media appearances from leadership, VP Kenneth Chapman advocates for playing it “safe” and remains confident on the power (and PowerPoint embossing) of statu quo.

What are some of D2L’s high profile users?

One of D2L’s early adopters was Minnesota State Community and Technical College, which uses Brightspace for its online college program and still does to this day.

Some of D2L’s recent customers include:

What the 2020s look like for D2L: Semi-educated speculation

Futurologists spend millions creating realistic scenarios of the future whose only reliable outcome is to be wildly off. So why not join them for the cheap and hunching out, based in little actual evidence than our past D2L and LMS coverage?


  • Very likely: D2L will be acquired by a private equity firm looking to consolidate a SaaS portfolio, much in the vein of Instructure’s recent acquisition. Given the smaller footprint, the price could be about half of the $2 billion bill Thoma Bravo coughed up for the US Higher Ed LMS market leader.
  • Likely: D2L is acquired by Thoma Bravo itself. Less likely: Blackboard acquires D2L. Long seem the days where Blackboard was gobbling the space. Interestingly enough, Blackboard’s spree ended around the time it ended a patent battle with D2L that lasted for years.
  • Possible? D2L goes public, valued slightly above $1 billion USD.
  • Possible? D2L shift strategy upside down to go after the emerging markets, where judging by the demographics of its past conferences, it’s faring better off than Instructure. Latin America seems poised for a shake-up, despite still being Blackboard’s firewall. Would the secret lie in the coalitions?. LMS adoption in Africa is still a challenge for everyone, while Asia is Moodle’s to lose.
  • Less likely: D2L is acquired by AWS, who is struggling to make a dent in the EdTech arena, and has a preference for an established content delivery network.
  • Most likely: D2L stays more or less where it is in terms of US Higher market share and enrollments, for another “meh” decade.

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