Catalyst Community Spring Conference 2023

31 May 2023 by Sam Taylor

In April over 75 attendees joined us for our recent community conference, hosted online using BigBlueButton. The day was a way to bring our diverse community together and to share ideas, experiences, and hopefully code!

Catalyst Business Development Team

Morning welcome session

We started the morning with an opening talk from our Director, Joey Murison where he welcomed our newest partners, provided updates on our achievements both internally and externally, and outlined where we were at with our infrastructure projects and roadmap planning. 

Joey Murison, Catalyst IT – Welcome presentation

We were then treated to a talk from Atish Gonsalves, Founder of Gamoteca who gave a fantastic overview of the platform and the ways in which it supports collaborative learning. This talk was well received with one participant commenting: Great example of effective use of technology – an ideal way to support development & knowledge, requiring constant practice & feedback loop

Catalyst and Gamoteca have partnered in the past to develop the integration of Gamoteca with Totara, and is used by one of our partners, UNICEF, as captured in the following case study: UNICEF launches human-connected, game-based learning with Gamoteca.

Atish Gonsalves, Gamoteca – Welcome presentation

Platform break-out sessions

Following on from Atish’s talk we were very grateful to have three leaders in their respective platforms join us for a 30min overview of up-and-coming features.

  • Mary Cooch (Education Manager from Moodle HQ) joined us to talk about Moodle 4.1 and 4.2 and the newest features of interest.
  • Meredith Henson (Head of Partner Success from Totara) showcased the added benefits of the Totara Talent Experience Platform.
  • Kristina Hoeppner (Mahara Project Lead) presented a preview of Mahara 23.04 including a closer look at the new Outcomes portfolio feature.

We at Catalyst are very grateful to the above presenters who gave their time to come and talk with our community, and their talks can be watched back on our Catalyst Community page.

Partner stories

The most exciting part of the event for me is hearing what our partners have been up to. First up was a talk from the British Red Cross training team on their adoption of Moodle Workplace to deliver training in topics such as First Aid and Mental Health, which contribute funds back to the main charity. The key message delivered here is that having a platform like Moodle (and the confidence to use it!) meant that they could create their courses in-house and respond rapidly to changing advice and guidance, instead of waiting for someone else to update their SCORMs for them.  We then had a great talk from Cambridge Assessment International Education on a suite of agile tools they had created and shared via Moodle to support teachers who needed a quick way of facilitating an activity in the classroom. Imagine needing an easy tool to pick names out of a hat without having to download anything. Next up was a joint presentation with Birkbeck University and Catalyst IT about a plugin they commissioned and we developed to integrate a timetabling system, and its events, into their Moodle site. This honest review showed the steps taken in the development of the plugin, as well as the lessons learned and what’s hopefully coming next!

Birkbeck University and Catalyst IT presentation

We then had a very insightful presentation from the Met Office and their adoption of Totara to support people development. It’s very interesting to see how teaching is facilitated in a corporate environment, and the tools provided by Engage and Perform allow for learning to happen outside the ‘classroom’, often led by peers, and supported by competency frameworks. Finally, we concluded the partner story session with a talk from Cambridge Judge Business School on their use of javascript and CSS to allow for custom activity icons in Moodle 4.1, and a call for others who are interested in having this feature properly scoped and developed by Catalyst to get in touch.

Special interest discussions

By special request, we followed on from the partner stories with two separate break-out sessions: one session was hosted by Malcolm Taylor from the Met Office and focussed on Training, Development and CPD, with the other session hosted by Aurelie Soulier from Moodle HQ and EdTechHuman. Both sessions gave participants a chance to discuss issues that were affecting their specific sector and share the different approaches people tried to adopt and their outcomes. Topics such as ChatGPT, mentoring, and course consistency were high on people’s agendas, with a very in depth Moodle discussion on what to take into consideration with regards to moving fro the ATTO editor to the re-introduced TinyMCE editor. We hope these sessions were useful to all who attended, and that they had at least one idea to report back on at their own organisations. 

We then concluded with a Dev and Config clinic where we invited everyone to put questions to our team of technical staff, followed up with a final ‘goodbye for now’ talk by our Head of Business Development Richard Oelmann.

So, what’s next?

Many thanks to everyone who came and especially those who offered up time to put together talks and presentations. Our next conference will be the Catalyst Community Autumn Conference which will be a hybrid event. More details to come soon, but the physical location is likely to be at Birkbeck, University of London in late November 2023.

Hopefully we’ll see you there!