This is the first of a three-part review about Iomad – a business and corporate focused enhancement to Moodle. Normally I follow a set pattern in doing reviews, but as this is so much more than just one add-on, I am breaking with that tradition.
But first for some context.
Many corporates use Moodle in many different ways. Some use it as training platform where training courses are uploaded and delivered to their staff for certification and ongoing continual professional development. Others use it as a social learning platform where the courses are more focused on sharing and collaboration. Many use it as a hybrid of these reasons and other reasons completely.
The reasons why they use Moodle can differ as well; some use it because of the flexibility, some use because it is open source and can be readily customised to do exactly what they need; some use it because it is license free and so a cost-effective solution where you may want to start off small and scale; other use it because it has the specific features they need and some use it because it is what they know.
Obviously there are other reasons but I am just trying to set the scope of diversity in how and why organisations use Moodle.
However, most organisations; be it academic or corporates often want to use Moodle beyond the course management system it excels at, with more learning management features such as
- High level reporting; curriculum-wide reporting, company wide reporting, hierarchical reports, unit based reporting and so on
- Advanced user structures: user hierarchical groups based on the organisation’s needs – be it different business units, national groupings or even in academic sectors of faculties and schools.
There has always been a number of ways of approaching these type of requirements, by adding extra products alongside Moodle, or adding plugins or even using enterprise solutions that were developed – such as Remote-Learners ELIS and Totara.
I have used all three, and found each to have some unique features that made them worth investigating. I have reviewed ELIS on this blog before, and was waiting until Totara was fully openly available to download to do so. Totara was recently made available on Github and so it is on my list to review in more detail at some point.
However something new came under my sights this last week, and so having played with it I thought I would put together this review. It is called Iomad, and it was developed and released by the Scottish Moodle Partner E-Learn Design
When approaching any of these enterprise systems, I have always had a specific type of test in mind and that is:
- set up a test company structure of a few departments
- allocate users in the various levels of the company
- allocate users to a learning track / courses
- complete some courses
- view reports available at each level where possible.
So my review will follow this format.
The test cycle
The fictional company I will test with is a simple one. It is a Company with 4 departments: Sales, HR, Development and Support. Each of these has a manager and 2 staff members.
I should note that Iomad has some very useful features that I will cover in part 2 of this review in the coming week they are:
- Training Event activity
- License management
Iomad is a full installation of Moodle and itself. It is more than plugins as the site explains “there are a few changes to core”. Normally I prefer to just review standalone plugins, but enterprise extensions are not that simple – the problems they solve are not simple either.
So to have a play you can either install from the Github account https://github.com/iomad/iomad , or you can just use the demo site. The site auto-refreshes every 90 minutes so if you are going to play I suggest you try just after one of the resets so you have enough time to go through the different features. The demo site is at http://demo.iomad.org.
Installing Iomad from github was as simple as installing Moodle. The Iomad site has an installation quick start installation guide for those who are unfamiliar. http://www.iomad.org/installation-quick-start-2/
Creating a Company
Once installed, as admin you are able to access the Iomad dashboard. You are immediately prompted to create a new company. Apart from giving it a new you can set user defaults for all staff that are created under the company and you can also specify if it should have its own appearance info such as a theme and logo – which I guess is very useful for the multi-tenancy usage.
The Iomad dashboard shows you different options depending on your role. As a Moodle admin I could see more than a company admin, who sees more options than a manager, and so on. The dashboard is both an extension of the Moodle Administration block and an actual dashboard page.
The Dashboard breaks the system down into a number of sections:
- Company management
- User management
- course management
- license management
Below this is the Iomad reports section which offers links to
- Attendance report by course
- Users Report
- Iomad SCORM overview report
- Completion report by course
- Iomad Company Overview Report
All these options were also available in the administration block tree for Iomad for easy access. I would however have liked to have this at the top of the administration block rather than the bottom.
So back to the review.
Adding Company Departments
Once logged in as the full admin, I got access to the dashboard.
Company Management has the following options:
- Edit Company
- Create Company
- Manage Departments
- Assign Department users
- Optional profiles
- Assign Users
- Assign Courses
- Email Templates
Adding the four departments was very straight forward.
Each department has a long and short name. So adding them in took less than a minute.
Next onto the staff
Adding the staff into the system
User Management has the following options:
- Create user
- Edit users
- Upload users
- User bulk download
- Bulk user actions
Creating the users in the interface is straight forward. You specific the name, email, password and can allocate the user a role in the company. You could also assign them to a course (which I have none created yet so skipping that for now).
After creating one user in the interface, I chose the upload users approach and added in some users with a spreadsheet. This was the same easy process as standard Moodle, however with just a few options: Adding the file, CSV delimiter, Encoding, Preview rows and Upload type.
Once previewing the user upload you could also select some other options including which department to add the users to and which courses to enrol the users into.
Once added, now came the third task: allocate users to a learning track / courses. This is handled under the Course Management. However with no courses set up I had to do this first.
Course Management has the following options:
- Assign to company
- User Enrolments
- Create course
- Manage Iomad course settings
- Teaching locations
Before I can enrol users I had to create a few test courses first but that was quick – there is a simple form for creating the empty course with just Course full name, short name, summary and enrolment method (self-enrolment or manager enrolling the users).
Adding users to courses
Once I created the courses, enrolling users onto them was as expect straight forward.
The common theme so far is simplicity and just the options needed to do the task and no more. So the page for enrolling users has the department to filter the users shown, a choice of what course to enrol users to, and a user select box.
So you can either enrol a whole department to a course, or just select which users.
That task over it was down to logging in as some of the end users and finishing a course or two.
For speed, I turned on self-completion for the courses, and added the self-completion block so that the learner can click to complete the course.
So once a user had completed some courses, I went to look at the reports.
The first report I wanted to look at was the Completion report by course. This provides an overview of the courses in the company and how many users are enrolled, how many are not started, still in progress and how many are completed as below.
With the filter you can see the whole company or just a department.
The completion report by user allows you to select a user from the company or filter by department and then view their report.
There are other reports for SCORM tracking, Attendance tracking and an overview on the company staff and the total number of users and total number of courses.
End of Part 1.
This review has covered the basics of what a company will do when they start on the system, structure setup, user set up and enrolment and also some of the reports.Throughout the review I have found the system to be simple to use. The options were just enough to do what was needed and no more which mean that the screens did not have extra options which could confuse. I will give my full thoughts on the system at the end of part 2.
The next part in this review will cover the different roles in the system, training event activity, Multi-tenancy, E-commerce and the course license management.