Universitas 21 is a global network of research-intensive universities that empowers students, researchers and staff to share excellence, collaborate across borders and exchange knowledge. It focuses on supporting students, undergraduates and educational innovation. The member-focused network also prides itself on promoting the value of internationalisation and multinational collaboration through its programs, activities and initiatives.

The Challenge: A drop in member engagement

Responsible for organising collaborative research awards, the Researcher Engagement team noticed a reduction in the number of applications from member universities.

Investigating the cause of dwindling applications, they discovered that a lack of interaction between members was harming engagement.

To continue the company’s mission of uniting researchers and nurturing collaboration, they needed a central platform and portal for members to meet and collaborate virtually. The platform would need to:

  • Act as a repository for information and data
  • Encourage collaboration on different projects
  • Enable communication between members
  • And allow members to host meetings

The Solution: A flexible, central learning platform

Looking for a flexible LMS that would meet their needs, the team chose Catalyst IT and Totara Learn and praised the open-source e-learning solution provider’s “responsiveness and creativity.

With Totara Learn’s adaptable features, and it being familiar to users involved in academic research because it is based on Moodle, the Researcher Engagement team knew it would be ideal for their needs.

Working with Catalyst IT, the team developed a multi-purpose learning platform called “U21 Community”.

Catalyst consultants are highly responsive, understand the needs and goals of our network, and consistently provide creative thinking to apply to our Totara platform.

Connie Wan, Researcher Engagement Manager at Universitas 21

The Results: Increased adaptability and member engagement

The “U21 community” platform enables the Researcher Engagement team to nurture collaboration, knowledge sharing and interaction between its members.

The platform helps increase engagement, empower subject matter experts and gives multiple members from different disciplines – ranging from senior management directors to VPs of research and other committees – control over their content.

“With Totara and Catalyst, it’s great that there’s always a solution! I say I need it to do ‘xyz’ and then Crystal (our contact at Catalyst) will reply with ‘no problem, we can adapt Totara Learn to do just that’.” – Connie Wan, Researcher Engagement Manager at Universitas 21

Currently, the Researcher Engagement team is adapting face-to-face programs into virtual events, starting with a large workshop for its early career researchers. The event, which is launching this month, will include a meet and greet, calls and presentations on different topics, and have a dedicated database for users.

Amongst other features (like Totara Learn’s customisable dashboard and user profile customisation), the Universitas 21 team loved the following Totara Learn features for measuring engagement and managing users:

  • Hierarchies
  • HR import
  • Search user function
  • Reporting
  • Activities

Moving into 2021, the Universitas 21 team is placing an emphasis on virtual annual programs throughout the year. After setting up the events (called seminars in Totara Learn) the team plans to review the programme in March/April.

They are also planning on rolling out touch base surveys for different users at different levels. These surveys will gather feedback from content managers uploading content and members who attend workshops.

We choose Totara Learn because the system is adaptable and we have the support to shape it to our specific needs.

Connie Wan, Researcher Engagement Manager at Universitas 21