Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) is a diverse, and contemporary Higher Education Institution (HEI). LIT is one of the most accessible and supportive HEI’s in Ireland. In 2019 LIT and AIT formed a Technological University Consortium to form a new Technological University.

The Challenge

LIT takes great professional pride in providing a unique blend of theoretical and practical educational programmes spanning all the disciplines they offer, from sport to public service.  LIT comprises of five campuses in Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary, totaling more than 8000 students and staff. A public Cloud option hosting Moodle gave flexibility, scalability and significant cost savings and a partnership with Catalyst also introduced peace of mind.

LIT was using a contracted 3rd party hosting provider (under a Platform-as-a-service model) to help solve capacity challenges with on premise hosting. The inability to scale the site on the physical infrastructure in use, coupled with the risks of downtime and disruption for students and staff, became a constant issue and concern. More requests were being generated by the business stakeholders and these requests along with additional functionality requirements were being denied. The Digital Technology Learning team knew that there had to be a better way forwards than the overspend on time and maintenance of their LMS.

The urgency was re-enforced (as for so many institutions) when, in March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit, in the middle of the academic year. LIT had to quickly roll out a plan to move all staff and students to online teaching and learning through Moodle LMS. The significant task of moving onto the newest version of Moodle 3.9, training all staff on how to use the systems effectively and move from face to face to online delivery and migrate data into the newly provided Catalyst managed system was greatly supported by the speed, efficiency and technical abilities of the Catalyst team supporting LIT with the new system. LIT supports an eco-system of over 7,000 students and 1200 staff who needed to be certain that their learning journey is well supported and stable – giving confidence and consistency at a time of huge uncertainty in the teaching and learning landscape.

The Solution

Catalyst was successful in the procurement process competing against two other providers to secure the contract with LIT. They began project planning work in March 2020. The roadmap included a move to the Cloud-hosted system running on the latest version of Moodle 3.9 LMS, and was achieved in under 8 weeks. Catalyst customised the look and feel of the new Moodle LMS site to be more in line with LIT branding.
An important customisation to deliver true single-sign-on (SSO) was implemented by Catalyst. LIT uses a true single-sign-on for all staff and students on campus to log into multiple different sites. Catalyst was able to integrate the SSO requirements and ensure that the logon to Moodle LMS was a seamless experience for those users already signed into LIT digital services. LIT requirements were met; when logging into Moodle, a user doesn’t have to go and explicitly log into each of the different systems, – a user will log in once for the day and all the services they utilize will be available using your authentication token, making access seamless across the estate of different systems.

Throughout Covid19 and migrating to AWS Cloud this year, our staff and student engagement with Moodle LMS has significantly increased. The Catalyst team provides first-class service and support, giving us continued peace of mind. The whole project ran seamlessly and exceeded our expectations. Migration to AWS Cloud has given peace of mind to LIT Computer Services staff. Michael Tuhoy, Senior Technical Office, LIT

The Results

Since the advent of COVID-19, Moodle LMS is probably the single most important learning platform in LIT. Students and staff checking the site several times a day. Staff are adding on new team meetings, resources to share – its revolutionised the way we work. There is now greater access to integrated and different learning resources improving interaction between students and tutors.

‘Cost-effective migration to the Catalyst managed AWS cloud released the LIT Computer Services Team from upgrades and data centre maintenance. Whilst no longer being held back by requests for maintenance and functionality, staff are now free to focus on innovation and delivering the improvements to teaching and learning as sought by the business stakeholders. Shared cloud offering means we have reduced environmental, hardware and financial costs – where payment is in-line with the usage levels required’. Michael Tuohy, Senior Technical Manager, LIT