Early Childhood Australia (ECA) is dedicated to ensuring quality outcomes in early childhood education and care. To help them achieve this, ECA has outlined several strategic priorities in their 2021-2024 Strategic Plan. These priorities include collaborating to make a greater impact, promoting ‘beyond quality’ in early education, leading and inspiring professional learning, and being sustainable and efficient in all their operations.

ECA has also committed to investing in technology to continually improve their member and customer experiences, as well as their operational efficiency.

Moodle Premium Certified Partner, Catalyst IT Australia, was invited to help ECA in their efforts. Using Moodle Workplace, Catalyst IT Australia endeavoured to enhance the effectiveness, usability, and cost and time efficiencies of ECA’s learning management system.

The challenge: Effectively managing learning resources

ECA has a membership of 3,500 across Australia and offers a wide range of online courses through their ECA Learning Hub, powered by Moodle since late 2021. As their consumer base and course offerings continue to expand, ECA needed a more efficient and effective way to manage their learning materials and users.

Previously, ECA created their course materials as SCORM packages in their own LMS, which members could also upload into their Moodle sites. With many members and users, this process wasn’t very efficient for ECA, as they wanted a more centralised solution to push new course additions and updates to individual courses (SCORM packages) out to all sites with ease. This was important to maintain the quality and organisation of the entire LMS, which can be challenging when many users have access.

Additionally, ECA had to update their SCORM packages in SCORM Cloud Service, which not only was a separate system to manage but also incurred an additional subscription fee. To address these issues, ECA sought the expertise of Catalyst IT to develop a more centralised solution for hosting and managing their learning materials.

The Solution: An ‘out-of-the-box’ custom Moodle plugin

After thoroughly assessing ECA’s current setup and specific needs, Catalyst IT identified an opportunity to develop an innovative ‘out-of-the-box’ solution by creating a custom Moodle plugin that would replace the need for SCORM Cloud Service. Although LTI was considered ‌a possible solution, the challenge was that ECA members used around 10 different Learning Management Systems. Only a small fraction of those supported LTI, where as all of them supported SCORM. 

The custom Moodle plugin solution was proposed as it would accommodate the members’ existing platforms with minimal or no changes required. Instead of relying on the SCORM Cloud Service for managing updates, a custom Moodle plugin sits within the client’s existing Moodle site, offering a more direct control to the ECA team when it comes to:

  • Adding new and updating existing courses (SCORM packages)
  • Reporting on and managing user actions
  • Monitoring course completion
  • Managing subscriptions
  • Managing various levels of user access 

Using the custom Moodle plugin would mean the SCORM Cloud subscription is no longer needed, leading to more time and cost savings. Plus, as an open-source learning management system, this Moodle plugin will be available to the wider community to use for free. It can also benefit from continuous improvements as more organisations use it in different ways.

To ensure seamless collaboration between Catalyst IT and the ECA team on their ongoing LMS improvements, as well as support ECA’s growth and development on a secure platform, Catalyst IT recommended migrating the client’s existing Moodle site to their cloud hosting infrastructure. This move provides round-the-clock support to all clients, ensuring the site remains secure and stable.

Shae Haylen, General Manager of Professional Learning at ECA, said, “The SCORM Wrapper roll-out has been fantastic, and we are so pleased with the level of support provided to the team throughout. Our board were impressed and dubbed it ‘cutting edge’ and ‘innovative.’ Our clients are thrilled with the transition also.”

Results: A centralised approach to course and user management

Catalyst IT Australia has developed a custom Moodle plugin that addressed ECA’s specific needs in course and user management, with ongoing benefit to the wider open-source community and organisations with similar technological requirements. The plugin was built from scratch without losing any functionality that was already used by ECA in their usual course and user management processes.

Additionally, Catalyst IT successfully migrated the client’s existing Moodle site into their Cloud Infrastructure with Amazon Web Services. As a result, ECA now enjoys a centralised approach to course and user management, better reporting, time and cost savings, and 24/7 support with Catalyst IT’s Follow the Sun service.

Investing in this open-source project will bring ongoing improvements to its functionality, benefiting ECA and other organisations that use it in various ways. The organisation are also better positioned to achieve their strategic goals, including collaborating for impact, championing “beyond quality” in early education, leading and inspiring professional learning, and being sustainable and effective in what they do. We look forward to witnessing their continued growth and success in championing education and care across Australia.