The Met Office and Catalyst got to work on the new Totara Learn system in mid-2017, and it went live in March 2018. The initial migration from the old Moodle 1.9 system to Totara was a big improvement, with the new system fully customized to match the look and feel of the Met Office’s brand.
A large-scale data migration project took place to move all the content from the previous two systems to the new Totara Learn. Initially, the plan was for the HR department to introduce a new HR information system (HRIS) to coincide with the launch of the new LMS, but the HRIS project was delayed for two years, meaning the LMS launched alone. Fortunately, the flexibility of Totara Learn meant that this wasn’t an issue, and when the HRIS finally launched in May 2020, it opened many new doors in terms of what the Met Office team could do with their LMS.
The LMS consists of multiple learning areas. The Met Office’s flagship operational meteorology course is a degree standard course used for training weather forecasters. Along with traditional lessons, learners participate in on-the-job training with assessments along the way as well as mandatory compliance training and technical training.
The new HRIS integrates seamlessly with Totara Learn, giving the Met Office endless possibilities in terms of creating data-driven learning content. For example, with the HR data, the learning team was able to target learning based on where people worked, making smart use of dynamic audiences and the organisational structure provided by the HRIS. When someone moves into a different area of the organization the LMS is able to automatically provide appropriate learning, reducing manual input and making the process much more efficient and streamlined.
Prior to Totara Learn, the Met Office was using older-generation software to manage the booking of live training sessions. The previous system was relatively unconfigurable. Switching to Totara Learn gave the Met Office access to seminar management functionality, which is particularly valuable in supporting the Met Office’s blended learning strategy. Now, employees can sign up for a live seminar and access all the supporting activities and resources in one place. This is helping the Met Office to reduce barriers to learning and how people access it.
Totara Learn has played a pivotal role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in training the next cohort of weather forecasters, and in the summer of 2020, it was used to deliver the Met Office’s first-ever remote exams. This system has come into its own in the turbulent, rapidly changing times of 2020. Instructors have been able to adapt to the change by adding Microsoft Teams links to course pages to invite learners to remote, live sessions as well as supporting their learners by creating interactive activities with Catalyst’s H5P plugin, which is proving very popular.