The History of D2L According to ChatGPT and Three Alternatives

Doing lots of work with ChatGPT for an upcoming presentation. I’ve been looking at/for several things:

  • How can it be used productively by educators?
  • What is it good at?
  • What is it bad at?
  • Is it better or worse than some of its main competitors?

As for alternatives, I’ve settled on three for now: Chatsonic, Perplexity, and Playground (also from OpenAI). I’ve fed lots of different prompts into these four platforms. Sometimes the results are pretty good, sometimes not. Comparing one platform to another, they rarely produce output that is nearly identical to one another. IOW, there’s quite a lot of variety in these platforms.

ChatGPT logo

This post will highlight only one of those prompts: Create a history of the founding and development of Desire2Learn, or D2L, an LMS company based in Canada. Include at least 3 citations.


Desire2Learn, commonly known as D2L, is a Canadian-based learning management system (LMS) company. D2L was founded in 1999 by John Baker in Kitchener, Ontario. The company’s initial focus was to provide e-learning solutions for universities and colleges.

Over the years, D2L has evolved and expanded its product offerings to include cloud-based learning platforms for K-12 schools, corporations, and government organizations. In 2011, D2L received a significant investment from The Xander Group, a private equity firm, to support its growth.

D2L has been recognized for its innovation and commitment to improving education and has won several awards, including the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 award, the Branham Group’s Top 250 Canadian ICT Companies, and the Brandon Hall Group’s Excellence in Technology Award.

D2L is committed to providing a comprehensive, cloud-based learning platform that meets the needs of various organizations and learners. With its headquarters in Kitchener, Ontario, D2L has offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia.


  1. “D2L: Company Profile.” D2L, (NOTE: this is not an actual link, although it looked good at first)
  2. “Desire2Learn Receives Significant Investment from The Xander Group.” Desire2Learn, (This link is totally made up – there is no relationship between Xander Group and D2L)
  3. “D2L Wins Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Technology Award.” Desire2Learn, (Again, not a real link. D2L has won several Brandon Hall Awards, but NONE in 2015.)

Analyzing the ChatGPT Output

Several pieces are accurate, or at least accurate enough. The reference to Xander Group is an unforced error. The Xander Group is a global investment firm, but has never invested at D2L. In 2012, D2L did get an infusion of $80M from New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and OMERS Ventures. Then in 2014 D2L raised another $85M from six investment houses (including NEA and OMERS a second time).

All three citations are made up. D2L doesn’t have a Company Profile page. Maybe it did at one time, but now you’ll find most of the Company info on their About page. Although D2L has won several awards from the Brandon Hall Group, they didn’t win any awards from them in the years 2012-2016. This is easy to check.


Desire2Learn (D2L) is a global software company based in Canada with offices around the world[1]. It was founded by John Baker in 1999 after he identified a need for an online learning platform[2]. D2L’s mission is to create innovative technology that changes the way the world learns[3]. Its cloud-based learning platform, D2L Brightspace, serves three distinct markets: K-12 schools, higher education, and corporate training[4]. A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application or web-based technology used to plan, implement and assess a specific learning process[5].






5 favicon

Analyzing the Perplexity Output

Nothing too impressive here. Short, but accurate. Could probably do a web search and come up with this info just about as fast as you could ask Perplexity. The links actually work, unlike ChatGPT.

Note: I have used Perplexity for several different prompts that I was interested in, and it often provides more accurate information than the other alternatives. It also produces accurate links more often than the other three.


The Founding and Development of Desire2Learn (D2L)

Desire2Learn (D2L) is a learning management system (LMS) company founded in 1999. The company was founded by a group of four entrepreneurs from the University of Waterloo in Canada, including John Baker, President and CEO, who had the vision of creating innovative learning solutions through the use of technology.

The first version of D2L’s software was released in 2000, allowing schools and universities to provide online courses to their students. Since then, the software had been constantly improved and updated to meet the needs of the educational sector. This included the introduction of a mobile app, the ability to integrate with other applications, and the use of analytics to provide personalized learning experiences.

In 2013, D2L acquired different companies such as ThinQ Learning, to further expand its service offerings. This allowed the company to become a major supplier of learning solutions, providing a wide range of products, including Learning Environment, Content Solutions, Brightspace Analytics, and Brightspace Pulse.

By 2019, more than 1,200 organizations and 25 million learners in higher education, K-12, and the corporate sector have used D2L’s products. D2L’s Learning Environment and Content Solutions are trusted by more than 1,400 institutions, including Ivy League universities, top research universities, and many other leading academic institutions throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

In 2020, D2L was acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo, allowing it to continue expanding its service offerings to meet the demands of the digital learning industry.


  1. Brown, M. (2020). Desire2Learn Acquired by Thoma Bravo. Campus Technology. Retrieved from (This article doesn’t exist because the “thing” doesn’t exist. Thoma Bravo never acquired D2L)
  1. Desire2Learn. (2021). About Us. Retrieved from
  1. McLoughlin, C. & Lee, M. J.W. (2015). Innovating with Technology for Collaborative Learning and Teaching. Springer International Publishing. p. 225. (McLoughlin and Lee are real authors with books published, but never wrote a book with this title)

Analyzing the Chatsonic Output

“Founded by a group of four entrepreneurs from the University of Waterloo” does not feel completely accurate. John Baker was attending U Waterloo when he started the company, but four entrepreneurs doesn’t hit me right.

ThinQ Learning? Ummm, no. ThinQ is a real company, but has no affiliation with D2L and never has. The Learning Environment was the first tool developed in the very beginning of D2L’s history, not in or after 2013.

Thoma Bravo acquired D2L? That’s news to me, and will likely also be news to everyone else at D2L. Thoma Bravo DID acquire Instructure (makers of D2L competitor Canvas) in 2020. No company has ever acquired D2L. D2L did go public with an IPO in 2021. This is a crazy sort of thing to make up. Can’t imagine how that happens with something like GPT3. Come on, man!!

And as you can see above, two of the three links are just made up out of thin air.


Desire2Learn (D2L), an educational technology company based in Canada, was founded in 1999 by John Baker and his wife, Momoko Baker. After John was inspired by the need to improve education, he and Momoko decided to create a revolutionary Learning Management System (LMS) to provide personalized learning experiences for students and educators. 

(1) John started by building an e-learning platform for post-secondary institutions, which quickly gained recognition and traction among the education industry. From there, D2L began to diversify its educational offerings, adding features such as student-centered tools for collaboration, discussion forums, and assessments. 

(2) In 2002, D2L received its first round of venture capital funding from Emergence Venture Partners, allowing the company to expand its product offerings and increase its customer base. The following year, D2L launched its Brightspace Learning Environment, which quickly became one of the most popular LMSs in the world. 

(3) Since then, D2L has continued to expand its product offerings and customer base, providing learning solutions to over 1,200 post-secondary, K-12, and corporate organizations in over 70 countries. The company has also received several accolades

No citations

Analyzing the Playground Output

Yikes, where to begin. Momoko Baker? Now that’s funny. John Baker was a very eligible bachelor until about 2015 to 2017 (can’t remember exactly when he was married), and his wife is not now nor has ever been named Mimoko. After the learning platform gained traction, THEN the discussion forums and assessments were developed to “diversify” the offering? Again, that’s pretty funny.

2002 venture capital funding? Nope, not even close. Wrong year and wrong venture capital company. Brightspace was launched in 2003? The first time the name Brightspace was used for the D2L learning platform was in July 2014.

Although I specifically asked for three citations, Playground provided none. They didn’t even try to make them up as the other platforms did.

Chatsonic screen capture shown below.

The Chatsonic version of the history of D2L.

One Response

  1. […] The History of D2L According to ChatGPT and Three Alternatives […]

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