In October 2019, PowerSchool, the leading student information system (SIS) provider in the US, purchased Schoology, one of the most widely used cloud-based learning management systems (LMS's) in the K-12 space. The purchase allows PowerSchool to incorporate Schoology into their suite of educational services which includes SIS, enrollment, assessment, administration, talent, and analytics software. Schoology competes with other learning management systems, such as Canvas, Google Classroom, and Moodle within the K-12 LMS market.
PowerSchool Acquisitions and Approach to the LMS Market
In 2016, Pearson spun off PowerSchool to the private equity firm, Vista Equity. Ever since then, PowerSchool has gone on a shopping spree, acquiring edtech platforms such as Haiku Learning (an LMS), Chalkable (an SIS), and PeopleAdmin (talent management software). While PowerSchool continued to enjoy widespread adoption of its SIS and other school admin software, it wanted to boost its personalized learning offerings.
PowerSchool purchased the LMS, Haiku, in 2016 but struggled to make inroads into the increasingly crowded LMS market. In the meantime, Canvas by Instructure, Schoology, Google Classroom, Blackboard, and Brightspace by D2L captured the lion's share of the LMS market. While the acquisition of Haiku Learning in 2016 did give PowerSchool an entrance into the K-12 LMS market, adoption of the platform was not widespread enough to fulfill Powerschool's vision. Ultimately, the PowerSchool Learning LMS (rebranded from Haiku Learning) never gained more than 5% of the K-12 market.
The Schoology Plan
Historically, school data has been siloed into different services. This presents a challenge to school administrators who wish to make data consistent across all of the platforms that they adopt. In order to make this happen, the data must be standardized so data can be easily exported from one system and imported into another; or an integration must be written to allow the two systems to communicate with one another.
PowerSchool offers integrations that allow its SIS to communicate with other LMS's, including Canvas, Google Classroom, Moodle, and even Schoology. In fact, about 40% of customers that use Schoology use PowerSchool as their SIS.
PowerSchool will be phasing out PowerSchool Learning and fully replacing it with Schoology. PowerSchool's goal is to have Schoology in their suite of Unified Classroom products, which also include gradebook and assessment platforms. The Unified Classroom suite itself is just one of PowerSchool's solutions (the others being Unified Administration, Talent, Home, and Communities), which are all powered through data via its SIS. With the acquisition of Schoology, PowerSchool can now better influence existing Schoology customers who currently use different SIS's to its own fully integrated option.