Founded in 1997, the Institute of Online Training and Instructional Systems (IOTIS), a division of Athens Technical College, provides instructional design services and a learning management system (LMS) to employees of the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) through a long-standing state agency-to-state agency contract.
As a state-funded organization, IOTIS is tasked with supporting the training requirements of several state-run organizations and initiatives (child welfare, financial assistance, etc.) on a fixed budget. The training needs of these organizations are quite unique and do not often align to standard learning management system functionality.
The high level of cost and inability to customize ruled out most commercially available LMS options. This led to an extended use of an internally developed, Java-based LMS that dated back to 2001.
While crafted to their original functional requirements, their organization and the training requirements of those they serve had evolved over time and their legacy system and development staff were unable to keep pace. This placed limitations on system updates, the type of training content they could offer and the availability of relevant and accurate reports and training data.
Totara Learn presented IOTIS the unique opportunity to step into an enterprise LMS with a range of innovative features, without having to sacrifice the legacy functionality they still needed.
Totara’s freedom to learn provided Athens training staff a robust feature set to offer their training audience an enhanced training experience through use of the following Totara Learn features:
- Diversify their training content to include SCORM and content from external sources.
- Extend the reach of their content through the use of the “awesome block” to feature content.
- HR Import to build a connection between Totara Learn and Peoplesoft to automate user provisioning and enrollment.
- Audiences and the ability to bulk enroll and unenroll functionality.
- On-demand reports provided by Totara’s advanced reporting engine
Taking full advantage of Synegen’s technical expertise and Totara’s freedom to innovate, IOTIS’ existing training and development team was able to quickly ramp up on the platform and align the system to their specific use case through system configuration and customization of pre-existing plugins.
They currently have 15 plugins, whether custom-built or third party, in use within their Totara Learn environment, highlighting that Totara and the open source flexibility was really the only option for their use case. Customizations of note include:
- Additional course formatting to improve the collapsible format of their 20-module courses
- Custom-built site calendar to show all event offerings in a calendar format with custom coloration for each of the five primary customer segments they serve. This calendar included filterable viewing by segment, course category, and location
- Capturing and tracking hotel requests and accommodations for trainees attending their seminar events
- Master quiz functionality allowing for a full quiz and related questions to be displayed as part of an embedded report
- Auto-group feature that automatically places seminar attendees into separate groups, allowing for simplicity of gradebook management for trainers
The Totara Learn platform powered by Synegen has empowered IOTIS training and development staff to offer an enriched training experience while adhering to state budgets. The robust feature set and open source flexibility allow them to be more nimble to the dynamic training needs of state leadership, organizations, and the 10,000 trainees they serve. Immediate impacts include:
- Expanding their content offering to include a range of new content types and even third-party content from other colleges and state institutions
- Extending the reach of their content through promoting featured training content
- Increasing accessibility and accuracy of training completion data throughout the state
Synegen’s technical expertise allows IOTIS to take full advantage of Totara’s open source architecture offering their trainees a “no-compromise training experience.”
“Totara has allowed us to offer our clients a modern LMS that allows for substantial modification to fit their unique workflows.” – Carla Bradley, Project Director, IOTIS