Business Wales, part of the Welsh Government, provides business skills training to those in Wales who either have or, are thinking of starting, their own business. They provide this service through their site – BOSS (Business Online Support Service) – https://boss.businesswales.gov.wales.
SkillSet originally provided both the eLearning content and the learning management system for the BOSS site. For a few years, SkillSet supported the Totara site and developed several additional plugins and enhancements.
Those enhancements included:
The number and complexity of the integrations increased over time as they might over any significant project lifecycle. The rate of development of interesting new features in Moodle was increasing, while Totara didn’t seem to be offering as many new developments appropriate for the Welsh Government. Therefore, the Totara site was beginning to look outdated compared to what a Moodle platform could offer.
Another issue for the Welsh Government was the cost of the system: the cost for a Totara site with over 20,000 user accounts and growing is significant when it is just one of many platforms that organisations like Business Wales and Farming Connect provide. Whereas, Moodle, being open source carries no license costs.
It was at this time that the decision was made to migrate to Moodle 3.5. There was no standard upgrade path from Totara 2.9 to Moodle 3.5, which meant we had to come up with a custom plan to perform this migration.
SkillSet analysed what was currently being used in the Totara feature set, and then divided this functionality into three categories:
We then went through the development process, building each of these categories into repeatable tasks that could be run against a known-state backup, so that we gradually created an automatic build script that took a current backup of Totara BOSS and turned it into a Moodle BOSS with as little human interaction as possible.
Once we had completed this phase, we were then able to run the scripted process, which took around 30-40 minutes to build a new Moodle version of the BOSS site in Azure, from the current Totara site.
The third category (what needs to be created from scratch) there was a clear need to focus on the end user experience. This is what initially lead to the development of the funding request system, which drastically simplified the process for users to request support for face-to-face training. This led us to decide that the out-of-the-box Moodle learning plan and competency-based functionality would be too complicated and that we needed to create a bespoke layout to present the development plans and records in a much more straightforward manner.
SkillSet were able to migrate the BOSS site from Totara to Moodle and hand over the site for UAT testing within a matter of a couple of hours.
The Welsh Government was very pleased with the result, and we have been awarded the follow-on contract extension to continue to provide support and development for BOSS. As part of this ongoing support, we are currently looking at developing several new functionalities, including new API changes, and a combination of face-to-face and third-party webinar services.