Future proofing workplace learning at the NZ User Conference

Last week the Totara team was joined in Wellington, Totara’s headquarters, by over 100 users and partners to collaborate and share ideas on how Totara is being used in workplaces across New Zealand and further afield. 

Our New Zealand Totara User Conference was our third global user event of the year, with the team crossing international waters to host the APAC User Conference in Melbourne this past March, followed by our popular EMEA User Conference in London this May.

Let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways from our Wellington event:

Communicate with your partner regularly about your Totara platform

Communication between a Totara subscriber and their Totara Partner is critical to the success of your implementation, your rollout and your long term vision for the platform. We heard from almost all of the users about how critical it is to communicate your vision with your Totara Partner.

Ange Family Planning Totara NZ User Conference 2019

For users like Ange from Family Planning New Zealand, a non-profit organisation, budgets for learning and development initiatives are small, but learning needs are just as high. When Ange originally went to Catalyst with specifications on what they needed out of a new learning management system, originally they wanted a platform that would enable a better-blended learning environment. Over time, and with a consultation with the team at Catalyst, Family Planning was able to communicate their evolving needs and as a result, together they were able to develop low-budget solutions for things like tailored invoicing and payment solutions through Totara Learn to meet Family Planning’s unique needs.

When working with a partner, be sure to communicate your needs regularly. Often, a lack of communication can result in frustration with the platform and an unclear solution, when in reality there may be a solution that your partner can assist with. When in doubt, you can also utilise the Totara Community to ask questions of your peers, and Totara product staff in the new community sector groups, or more broadly to 10,000+ users in the forums. Totara Partners are here to help you every step of the way, and to help you make the most of your budgets and Totara solutions.

Rethinking the future of learning with plugins

How can you reimagine your learning programes with the help of a plugin solution?  Delegates had the chance to hear how Kiwibank created a plugin solution, the Course Activity Plugin, to help develop a learning growth mindset in their organisation to keep their learners engaged. Kiwibank had three specifications about how they wanted to develop this growth mindset within the organisation:

  • Visualisation to keep things tangible and to give learners visual cues of their learning pathways and to make information retention easier
  • Gamification by offering instant rewards that proactively respond to a learner's pathway, and to help unlock new content on their road to mastery
  • A flexible solution that would be suitable now and would hold its value in the future. 
Kiwibank Totara NZ User Conference 2019

Kiwibank worked with their Totara Partner, Synapsys, to create this Course Activity Plugin, which resulted in tailored learning experiences and helped embed a growth mindset at Kiwibank. So far, 100% of respondents said that the new visual pathway has made it clearer to understand their course progress, and while Kiwibank had initially estimated it would take approximately two weeks to finish their learning, thanks to the new plugin, Kiwibank learners are now completing their learning in just three days.  

Embracing Totara's open source ecosystem

With Totara subscribers sharing how they transformed learner engagement at Kiwibank with their Course Activity Plugin, we wondered how can you transform a bulky handbook into an online solution to improve tracking, monitoring and signing off on orientation activities? Luckily, delegates had the chance to hear from Josleen Itari from Braemar Hospital and how she took a standardised onboarding handbook and digitised the onboarding process by using the On-The-Job (OTJ) plugin, which adds functionality for defining, tracking and signing off on-job-training. As well as user and manager interfaces, reports are available to provide an organisational view of overall progress.

NZ User Conference Group Chat Totara 2019

What’s interesting about Josleen’s story is that here we see the power of the Totara’s open source ecosystem at work. Braemar Hospital works closely with Totara Partner LearningWorks NZ; however, the OTJ plugin was created by Catalyst IT and released under an open source license. This allows any organisation using Totara Learn to benefit from open source contributions made by others within the Totara Community, such as the OTJ plugin.

Funnily enough, there were a handful of delegates who raised their hands and asked Synapsys and the Kiwibank team when the Course Activity Plugin code will be released under an open source license after seeing the solution and success at Kiwibank! Fingers crossed that will be released under open source license soon...

Where to go from here?

What ties some of these case studies together is that Nana, Jeanette, Ange, and Josleen's stories are not unlike many other subscribers we’ve heard globally. Learning needs change, and customers want a learning solution to solve new challenges that departments face going into 2020, 2021 up until 2025 and beyond. 

With many proprietary platforms in the market this can be problematic - rigid systems do not allow for flexibility or innovation. Time and time again this is a major pain point that we hear from those looking to make the switch. Hearing from engaged users like Kiwibank, Family Planning, VTNZ, Ministry for Primary Industries, Tourism New Zealand at the New Zealand User Conference - demonstrate the true power of Totara Learn, and just how it can offer the freedom and flexibility that other platforms just cannot. By sharing insights, tips and experiences, our community of Totara users are able to reap the benefits of someone else's learning journey with the platform to discover new tricks, new plugins, new ways of doing something that could streamline, modernise and innovate old approaches. 

While we've only shared just a few of the many takeaways from the sessions at the New Zealand Totara User Conference, you can gain access to the presenter slide decks by signing up to our free Totara Community and checking out the New Zealand User Conference pages. Go on, learn something new and discover the wonders of Totara. 

Get access to the NZ User Conference decks 

Missed out? Not to worry. See what all the buzz was about in Wellington, share your thoughts and join your sector community.