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A multi-tenancy approach to a value-driven, collaborative health sector network

This is a guest post from Ko Awatea's Digital Services Manager, Jason Ranston.

We recently published our case study about Ko Awatea and Counties Manukau District Health Board’s (CMDHB) Totara LMS, LEARN, thought to be one of the largest learning platforms in New Zealand, which is breaking down silos in the fragmented New Zealand healthcare sector with a collaboratively built and maintained LMS. The LEARN platform is a fantastic success story with tangible results being felt across New Zealand, and I wanted to share how the our open, collaborative approach is proving beneficial to district health boards (DHBs) and patients across a significant part of New Zealand.

Ko Awatea and CMDHB believed that New Zealand’s healthcare sector was operating in silos, meaning efforts were being duplicated across the country, leading to wasted time and budget. We identified that smaller DHBs did not have the capacity to deliver learning at the levels needed. For this reason, Ko Awatea and CMDHB worked with other DHBs across New Zealand in order to create the centralised LEARN platform. We believed that this open approach would benefit everyone, using a single version of Totara LMS to accommodate the learning platform needs of multiple organisations.

Why Totara LMS?

From our evaluation and in discussions with other DHBs, it became clear to us that Totara LMS was a great platform for this initiative. We consider it to be a ‘rock solid’ learning platform, both in terms of its technology and the hosting service offered by Totara Partner Catalyst. Its strong existing presence in the market also gave us peace of mind regarding its sustainability.

The overall goal of the platform for Ko Awatea was to build competency in healthcare more widely throughout New Zealand. This ‘grown-up version of Moodle’ was the obvious choice for this large-scale project.

A 'multi-tenant' approach

We worked with Totara Learning to agree to a multi-organisation use of a single site instance because we are a non-profit network. Previously, many third party organisations had charged these smaller DHBs a lot of money, though it had not been obvious where all of this money was going. In contrast, this co-ordinated and open approach gives everyone more transparency, meaning they know where the money is going and what it’s being used for.

Ko Awatea Totara LMS showing e-learning screen

A ‘multi-tenant’ approach means we use different themes, organisational frameworks and reporting to give each organisation their own ‘branding’ and organisation-specific information as users access the site. Specific data reports are administered centrally by a Ko Awatea site administrator, ensuring accurate records can be kept on each separate organisation.

Many of the smaller DHBs involved in this project, such as Mid Central DHB with its one full-time L&D employee and Southern DHB, are now reaping the benefits of this shared Totara LMS. Instead of these smaller DHBs spending their time on contracting, hosting and managing their own sites, any available resources can now be pooled and refocused on creating other learning opportunities for staff across the network. These smaller DHBs can also subcontract the use of the site through CMDHB for significantly less than if they were to manage and host a similar site themselves.

What can others learn from our experience?

The success of the LEARN platform is down to the collaborative, open approach pioneered by Ko Awatea, CMDHB and Catalyst. The LEARN platform is helping New Zealand’s participating DHBs save around 300 hours of e-learning development time by being able to share resources, and sharing a single instance of Totara LMS is estimated to save up to $270,000 a year across all the organisations. Each DHB still maintains its own visual identity on the platform with multiple brands, and smaller DHBs benefit from the support of larger DHBs while being able to contribute back to the wider network by pooling their own resources.

If you want to find out more about this project, check out our case study. You may also be interested in our insight into the healthcare sector, complete with practical tips for designing and developing an LMS for healthcare organisations


In association with

Catalyst IT

Catalyst IT specialises in free and open source technologies and services, and is one of the founders of Totara Learning Solutions. Since 2010 our e-learning teams in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom have built up a local and international reputation for high volume, high-availability Totara hosting and support on dedicated, highly secure environments featuring state-of-the-art monitoring and performance. Our in-depth product know-how and extensive LMS project experience make Catalyst the ideal technology partner for implementing, hosting and maintaining complex Totara instances. When required we can develop additional functionality, branded theme designs and integrations with external systems. We understand that by working collaboratively with our clients we can maintain our global reputation for delivering quality tailored solutions and help you make the most of your Totara installation. 

Other case studies by Catalyst IT


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