To understand the reliability of the popular learning management systems (LMS), we analyzed incident and outage reports from the official status pages for Seesaw, Blackboard, Canvas by Instructure, PowerSchool, Nearpod, and Google Classroom over a one-year period.
The Data Behind The Study
We used our own tool, StatusGator, to collect data for analysis.
In short, StatusGator aggregates data from the status pages of 2,700+ cloud services and presents it clearly as a single status page. It allows us to view status information for cloud services such as LMS platforms in a single place.
Disclaimer: We removed some features from the analysis that were not affecting the uptime of the LMS, as this would have unfairly influenced our insights.
Some services differentiate between major outages and minor incidents, while others do not. For this reason, we also decided not to differentiate the two. As a result, we refer to both major outages and minor incidents as outages. It keeps the data fair and straightforward to understand.
So, now that the analysis method has been covered, let’s take a look at what we found.
Comparing Popular LMS Reliability in 2022
|Number of outages
|Duration of outages
|Canvas by Instructure
#1 Most Reliable LMS – Seesaw
Our top-ranked LMS in terms of reliability is Seesaw.
Seesaw recorded 12 outages in 2022, with a total outage duration of 68 hours and 43 minutes.
It is the lowest number of outages and outage duration. Based on these two metrics, Seesaw is the most reliable LMS on our list.
In regard to outage history, June and September were the two worst months. In June, three outages were observed in relation to issues with message migrations and email notifications. All of these issues were resolved within 3 hours.
September saw a major outage regarding an inappropriate message being shared from an “outside actor”. It was a sensitive issue, but it was handled within 22 hours, and Seesaw’s CEO issued a statement showing a good level of transparency. This issue was damaging, but it’s reassuring that Seesaw handled it well.s
Looking at their official status page, Seesaw provides detailed breakdowns of incidents. The company updates its users on partial and major outages and current and historical uptime.
These features are just some examples of what makes a strong status page. To find out more about what makes a good status page, read here.
Based on Seesaw’s response to a sensitive issue, the informative status page, and outage statistics, Seesaw is a reliable LMS.
#2 Most Reliable LMS – PowerSchool
PowerSchool comes in second place on our list, with a total of 68 outages and a duration of 126 hours and 11 minutes. PowerSchool has more outages than Blackboard, which is in fourth place. So why is PowerSchool second?
In this case, the total outage duration of PowerSchool was lower than that of Blackboard, even though Blackboard had fewer outages. We consider duration to be more significant than outage frequency.
PowerSchool’s official status page is informative providing detailed breakdowns of incidents and updates.
PowerSchool also distinguishes between partial and major outages, maintenance, and degraded performance. They display the current status of all its components.
However, there is no option to view historical uptime or incident history beyond a few recent events. It would be beneficial for PowerSchool to include it on their status page for transparency.
#3 Most Reliable LMS – Canvas by Instructure
Canvas by Instructure follows closely after PowerSchool, with a total of 80 outages and a duration of 149 hours and 43 minutes.
We placed Canvas by Instructure as the third most reliable LMS in our list based on the comparison of outage duration.
Canvas does not have its own status page. Instead, the LMS status is displayed among the Instructure components on its official status page. Users can see historical uptime, incident data, and incidents with detailed breakdowns. Incidents are also separated in severity by color coding.
Overall, there was a high frequency of incidents in 2022, but most incidents were resolved on the same day.
#4 Most Reliable LMS – Blackboard
Blackboard is in No.4 due to its comparatively higher outage duration. Overall, Blackboard has only 40 outages recorded for 2022, but a total outage duration of 656 hours and 31 minutes.
There were two eye-catching outages on Blackboard’s incident history in particular.
- An outage affecting Partner Cloud/LTI Tools lasted from January 6th, 2022 to January 11th, 2022.
- An issue with after-hours support lasted from October 01, 2022, to October 04, 2022.
Both of these outages accounted for under 200 hours of the incident duration, attributing 29% of the overall incident duration in 2022.
It appears that many of the incidents last around 1 day, sometimes more.
Is Blackboard Still Reliable?
Blackboard may have a high outage duration, but it does not mean it’s unreliable. Primarily, the key issue with Blackboard is the time taken to resolve issues compared to other LMS platforms on our list.
Blackboard’s official status page displays:
- Uptime and incident history with detailed breakdowns
- Current status and upcoming maintenance
- Distinguishes between degraded performance, minor incidents, and major outages
Overall, Blackboard communicates incidents well and had a lower number of outages in 2022, but could improve the time to resolve outages.
Google Classroom and Nearpod – why are they unranked?
The ranking we gave the LMS platforms is based on what data is available. With Google Classroom and Nearpod, it was problematic to judge their reliability due to the lack of available data.
Nearpod’s LMS Reliability
At first glance, Nearpod only had a few outages. The official status page supports both partial and major outages, but Nearpod refers to all the events as partial.
Looking further, it appears that an hour-long outage occurred in July, but it was deleted from Nearpod’s official status page. We were able to spot it since outages were not deleted from StatusGator.
Google Classroom Reliability
According to Google Classroom’s official status page, the LMS had a single incident in 2022. A minor incident occurred on August 22nd:
At first, it appears this is a well-detailed breakdown of an hour-long outage.
However, we found on Classroom’s Help section that a user experienced an issue on September 29, 2022. Another 219 other users experienced the same issue.
This message is actually a duplicate, and the initial image shows that 683 users reported having similar issues.
Additionally, we found a Reddit thread the following day, with users reporting a Google Classroom outage. Here are some screenshots:
Aside from that incident, we also found an additional report of an incident In December 2022. We uncovered a thread in a Reddit group used by K-12 system administrators dedicated to Google Classroom outages:
We can see a few upvotes and comments on the issue. This shows that whilst we can’t see exactly how many people it affected, this one user was not alone in experiencing this issue.
If you want to look further into these comments and threads, you can find them below:
- Comments on the Google Support page as of September 29, 2022.
- The post on issues with Google Classroom as of September 30, 2022.
- The Reddit thread containing the K-12 admin group on December 12, 2022.
It’s clear that there was more than a single incident in 2022 for Google Classroom. So if these incidents were not reported, we do not know for sure how many more incidents weren’t recorded.
7 Insights into the Reliability of the 6 Most Popular LMS Platforms
Based on this data, we could rank the reliability of the most popular LMS systems based on outage numbers and duration. However, we could not rank Google Classroom and Nearpod as there was not enough data available to make a fair comparison. Here is what we found:
- Seesaw appears to be the most reliable LMS. It has the lowest number of outages and the lowest outage duration in our ranked list – with 12 outages and a total duration of 68 hours and 43 minutes.
- Canvas by Instructure had the highest number of outages at 80, but not the highest total outage duration (149 hours and 43 minutes).
- The longest duration of outages was observed with Blackboard, a total of 656 hours and 31 minutes in 2022, but only 40 outages were recorded. Two outages in particular accounted for 29% (200 hours) of the total duration.
- PowerSchool saw 68 outages with a total duration of 126 hours and 11 minutes.
- We suspect that Nearpod and Google Classroom lack transparency about their status history. We found that one outage was deleted from Nearpod’s official status page, and Google Classroom did not register all the issues that its users had in 2022.
- Blackboard, Canvas by Instructure, and PowerSchool are highly transparent in communicating the status of their services. Their status pages contain all the information regarding outages in 2022.
Both Blackboard and Canvas by Instructure display the statuses of their third-party dependencies, taking transparency to the next level. If you want to improve your transparency and monitor the status of your cloud dependencies for display on your status page, try StatusGator today.
FAQ on LMS Outages and Reliability in 2022
To clear up any confusion or queries you may have left about which LMS was the most reliable in 2022, here is a helpful FAQ section.
Q: Which LMS was the most reliable in 2022?
A: Seesaw – Seesaw saw (pun unintended) the lowest number of outages and the lowest total outage duration in 2022 in our ranked list. The only two that had lower numbers were Google Classroom and Nearpod, but their reported numbers were deemed unreliable.
Q: Which LMS is the best for schools in 2023?
A: In terms of reliability, Seesaw is the best LMS for schools in 2023. They saw a low number of outages in 2022 and a low total outage duration compared to other LMS used in schools. Whilst we cannot talk about which LMS is best in terms of features, we can say we were impressed with Seesaw’s transparency too, especially regarding the unfortunate hacking-based outage in September.
Q: Which LMS is the best for K-12?
A: We would argue either Seesaw, Blackboard, or Canvas is best for K-12. These LMS platforms are transparent in their status and show a high level of reliability.
Q: How do I know if Canvas is down?
A: Canvas does not have its own status page, but you can see if Canvas is down through Instructure’s status page.
Q: Where do you get the official Canvas by Instructure status?
A: Instructure’s status page shows the status of Canvas and its components. There is also an option on this page to see Canvas’ uptime history for the particular instance you are using. If you know your Canvas host ID, you should be able to see this history.
Q: How reliable is Google Classroom?
A: Based on our data, Google Classroom is a reliable LMS, but we doubt its transparency when compared to other LMS platforms. Google did not report all Classroom outage data in 2022, which we can confirm through our research into outages that occurred yet were not documented.
Q: How do I know if Google Classroom is down?
A: StatusGator offers a real-time update page on Google Classroom’s status.
Q: Is Google Classroom better than Blackboard?
A: Blackboard has a higher number of outages that last longer compared to Google Classroom. However, it looks like Blackboard is very diligent in communicating outages and keeping users in the loop. As a result, we would argue Blackboard is at least more transparent.
Q: Is Google Classroom better than Seesaw?
A: Google Classroom saw fewer outages and a lower outage duration compared to Seesaw, but it was not transparent in reporting all its outages. As a result, we cannot tell how many outages Google Classroom had.
Seesaw, however, was transparent in its status and has one of the lowest numbers of outages of the 6 most popular LMS hosts. Based on this, we would argue Seesaw is better.