CGScholar User Group’s Updates

The Trouble with Learning Management Systems


We've been asked quite a lot lately to say how Scholar is different from a Learning Managment System. One answer is that it is not an LMS because we don't want teachers to be (just) managers. Another answer is that Scholar can do everything an LMS can do, but importantly more!

Here's a comparative analysis of Scholar with the main LMSs. By way of background, our points of comparison are all examples of a first generation of Learning Management Systems: Blackboard, Moodle and Canvas.

Blackboard (1997): A legacy LMS, based on 1990s file-shuffling technologies. Over the years, it has become victim to its own history, a series of messy accretions. It has also become cumbersome as a consequence of a strategy of market dominance centered on acquiring competitors. Blackboard is—and certainly feels like—a collage of divergent logics, styles, and systems.

Moodle (2002): An open source LMS that has grown in a haphazard way, with only one major iteration in a decade, and one that did not support migration of content from v.1.0 to v.2.0. Moodle’s focal point is still the traditional syllabus and content delivery. Its learning analytic potentials are extremely limited as a consequence of its underlying, two decade old, file upload/download technology.

Canvas (2008): Founded by two graduate students at Brigham Young University and still based in Salt Lake City, Canvas adds nothing to Blackboard or Moodle, either technologically or pedagogically. Notwithstanding the pressurized sales efforts and advertising hype such as the ‘awesometer’ on its home page, Canvas is just another stitched-together collection of 1990s technologies and didactic teaching methods. It does have fancier fonts than its main competitors, and it seems friendlier in part because its legacy technologies have been dumbed down in the interest of ‘usability.’ But functionally it is essentially the same as Blackboard and Moodle. Universities are making this shift in order to heed the complaints of users about the old LMSs. This is change for change’s sake, that amounts to no change at all.'

Now here's how we would compare Scholar:


Notwithstanding these ambitions as a learning ecology, Scholar is pedagogically agnostic. Teachers can still do traditional content delivery, assessment and ‘didactic’ transmission pedagogy in Scholar. Scholar suggests a future of learning, without mandating it.

Perhaps we can say that Scholar is a next generation Learning Management System? Or should we say that it's beyond being a Learning Management System at all?

  • Christine Lampe
  • Richard Tongo Ngbanda
  • Sidonie Prudencienne Médjina
  • Doudou Lutwage
  • Moussa Sadjo
  • Anna Everson
  • Chiranjeevi Rahul Rollakanti
  • Nikelle Miller
  • Reda Sadki
  • Roberto Castaneda