Using Multitenancy in your LMS or VLE to Deliver a Personalised Learner Journey

What is Multitenancy and how can this help me deliver a personalised experience?

Engaging VLEs | Tech Talk | Infrastructure & Architecture

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As a training provider, your customers desire a personalised user journey and learning experience to improve their user experience and to help deliver maximum engagement with the learning content. How can you deliver this whilst ensuring that you are not required to deliver 5 separate implementations to 5 separate customers – and encountering the development, deployment, configuration and administration nightmare that this brings?

A multitenant solution to the rescue?

As your Learning Management System (LMS) or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) grows, it is a common requirement to support multiple groups of users in differing ways, but whilst retaining a single implementation of your application to reduce the administration burden and to streamline product updates.
With the upcoming release of Totara Learn 13, the topic of multitenancy is in the spotlight more than ever. Let’s take a look at what multitenancy is, what solutions it may provide, and what improvements we can make to the offerings of the current Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) solutions.

What is Multitenancy?

Technical Definition: Software architecture in which a single instance of software serves multiple groups of users who share a common access with specific privileges to this instance.

That’s fine, but what does that mean for me?

Imagine the following scenario:

  • We have 2 separate and unconnected organisations.
  • Each organisation wishes for their employees to be able to access their training material.
  • Each organisation requires their training environment to be themed in line with their corporate brand identity.
  • Each organisation requires their training managers to view progress and reports of their employees, and only their employees.
  • The 2 organisations may wish to access a combination of differing and identical course content.

And the following problem:

  • You wish to be able to support the scenario above without producing, deploying and maintaining two completely separate environments.

We can solve this with a multitenant solution by:

1. Delivering a single implementation of your chosen VLE or LMS

2. Creating a “tenant” for each organisation within the VLE or LMS

3. Adding the organisations employees to the applicable tenant

4. Adding the courses relevant to each organisation to the applicable tenant

5. Applying an organisation branded theme to each applicable tenant

 What are the advantages?

…for you?

Multitenancy allows you to have one VLE or LMS that multiple organisations can use, “sandboxing” each organisation within their tenancy. Any software upgrades, deployments or architecture amendments are only done once, and all tenants can take advantage of the features and improvements that they bring at the same time.

If needed, you can configure the environment from a central place, and can view all users within all tenancies and generate reports that span the entirety of the system.

…for your clients?

Each organisation will experience an environment which is tailored to them, enabling learners to have a personalised learning experience. Within each tenancy, trainers or admins within an organisation can control programmes, set assignments, and run reports monitoring learning activity.

Individual organisations are completely ‘boxed off’ from other organisations using the same platform. With multi-tenancy, there is no risk of clients straying into another organisation’s learning environment, they will feel as if the platform is entirely theirs’.

How can we take this further?

Typical multitenant solutions require you to access the environment at the same URL address, and then modify the learner experience upon a successful user login. With some architectural design and bespoke software modifications, it is often possible to deliver the same single environment but permit access from multiple different URLs. It is then possible to recognise the URL as a specific tenant immediately, allowing for a completely unique and customised feel prior to the user logging into the learning environment.
From this point, the possibilities are quite endless. We can present a completely different user interface to each URL, and tailor content – both authenticated and unauthenticated – to the user, whilst retaining just a single instance of the environment.

How can I do this today?

Various software and architectural solutions exist to implement multitenancy, but it will largely depend on what your chosen LMS or VLE is in order to evaluate support. The upcoming release of Totara Learn 13 is likely to change this landscape significantly, as native multitenant functionality is supported within the application. eLearning software development companies (like ourselves) can offer advice according to your individual needs and implement a multitenancy solution for you.
Whichever platform you choose, BuildEmpire are well versed in providing bespoke and customised learning solutions, often building on top of open-source of COTS products to provide advanced features (like multitenancy) tailored exactly to your need. If this is something you feel your LMS or VLE could benefit from, please reach out to discuss what BuildEmpire can do for you and your organisation.