Customization Open Source Learning System | Moodle Impact for Medical Professionals


We were approached by our client to help address the lack of training tools for healthcare professionals in Asia within a tight budget and a regulatory framework and extremely short time to market. The customer wanted to build on an open source platform to develop a Learning Management System (LMS) and tailor it for the needs of healthcare professionals. The desired LMS would provide a flexible learning curve allowing students to learn at their own pace, and support, both, online as well as classroom-based training.

DigitalSkunks deployed an open source system (Moodle) and customized to end-user’s requirements enhancing it with an open source CMS. Our team facilitated requirements gathering with our client and their prospective end-users through group discussions and interviews using Agile methodology for an iterative and incremental development of product features.

The solution was designed to support 7000+ users and is configured to allow 800 concurrent users.

Background and Challenges

  • ✓   Designing a learning management system for medical and health care professionals which conformed to a regulatory framework. The system needed to be extremely user friendly with a greater emphasis on a low learning curve for the users.
  • ✓   Product Scope was defined through User Stories. These User Stories were further elaborated to detail out system requirements.
  • ✓   The technical infrastructure and feature design was accomplished by DigitalSkunks team based on requirements acceptance by the customer.
  • ✓   Our customers’ Go-To-Market strategy stated using an open source learning management system like Moodle. Open source systems like Moodle, though rich in features, do not allow for a great degree of customization. Thus any custom development for moodle meant extensive regression testing coupled with balancing the performance of the system in conjunction with the introduction of multiple plugins and integrations.
  • ✓   The curated content was sourced from third party providers requiring multiple direct SSO integrations. The solution had to have the ability to integrate with other LMS solutions and content providers for them to be able to enrol their content or load their content in more efficient and effective manner whereby balancing usability.
  • ✓   The client being a bootstrapped start-up had very strict timelines, and the entire project was delivered within 3 months .

Technical Solution

  • ✓   Joomla CMS was integrated as the front-end for Moodle to function as backend LMS. Joomla was chosen to introduce better usability features like single sign-on and profile management.
  • ✓   User stories were iteratively expanded into detailed requirements and a feature list was further arranged into sprints. Agile scrum methodology was employed for developing the features, with an iterative and incremental approach for developing various modules. The agile delivery project plan was set-up in 3 sprints.
  • ✓   Features for the first sprint were decided based on the 80:20 approach; 20% of the features which would be used 80% of the time were included in this sprint. The sprint was delivered to the client for UAT within first 20 days.
  • ✓   Based on the feedback provided for the first sprint, the client asked for a lot of features which were incorporated as Change Requests (CR). Some of these features impacted the core process flows in the system. Prioritization was done based on the launch critical user stories.
  • ✓   Based on the agreed CR list, sprints 2 and 3 were drawn up once again and additional sprints 4 & 5 were added to the project lifecycle. All sprints were to be completed in 3 weeks each.
  • ✓   Taking into mind the diverse and changing requirements, highly customizable workflows and architecture was created to incorporate unplanned changes in the future.
  • ✓   Multiple Moodle API’s were customized to achieve the desired functionality with Joomla. API’s were written for features which were to be completely custom developed.
  • ✓   Intuitive and informative admin panel was created, to facilitate management of both Moodle and Joomla from a single portal. Multiple plugins were identified and customized for features like auto-enrolment of users, tier-based payment structure, e-commerce platform for selling courses and changes in the look and feel of Moodle.
  • ✓   Multiple plugins were identified and customized for features like auto-enrolment of users, tier-based payment structure, e-commerce platform for selling courses and changes in the look and feel of Moodle.
  • ✓   Paypal was integrated with the system for processing payments. Functionality for initiating and tracking refund was also included.
  • ✓   Customer centric features like building a support ticketing system, multi-layer security, and uniform look and feel across integrations were included in the system.
  • ✓   The system was based on Multi-tenant architecture, with a separate role for admin, managers, instructors and students.
  • ✓   The system was tested extensively, including all Moodle modules, to ensure all authorizations and access rights worked fine. Test automation was deployed for this purpose.

Outcome: DigitalSkunks agile development team delivered a versatile Learning Management Platform with cutting edge functionality, and curated content focused on meeting the needs of for Healthcare Professionals using open source technology.

  • ✓   The client and end-users were extremely pleased with the overall look and feel of the solution.
  • ✓   The system was tested successfully with 500 students and due for launch to support 3000+ users, with a server side configuration to support up to 800 concurrent users.
  • ✓   The well-defined roles within the system provided a seamless experience for managers, instructors and students.
  • ✓   Third party content integrations were accomplished successfully with features like single sign-on and content transfer using API’s.
  • ✓   The entire solution, from conception to release, was delivered within 3 months.

The high-level of customization involved meant that only 60% of the final product was as per the original scope, remaining 40% were change requests incorporated as the product evolved.