enterprise infrastructure with extensive integrations

Working with 80% of the FTSE100 companies, BPP is the UK’s only university dedicated to business and professional training.

Having outgrown their existing learning platform, BPP came to us looking for a sophisticated, feature-rich platform with increased functionality around learning groups.

Using Totara as a base, we built an engaging, bespoke virtual learning environment, a CMS for admins, and a suite of integrations with existing software, all on a highly secure infrastructure.
  • Improved speed of application process

  • Integration of 7 systems via API

  • Increased learner engagement

Working closely with BPP designers, we built a VLE based on their Achievement Ladder concept which allows students to see and access their learning journey clearly. Students can easily see which courses and activities they have completed recently, and any deadlines or coursework submissions which are coming up. Students can also see announcements, news, and messages from their tutors. This user interface allows the students to see all the information they need in an intuitive, modern, and BPP branded interface.

BuildEmpire built numerous APIs to make sure students had everything they needed within the VLE every time they logged into ‘The Hub’. A bespoke plugin pulls courses into the VLE from Totara, with some courses also being pulled through from the existing Moodle platform (so that course directors can move all their content across to Totara gradually). Other information, such as news and announcements, is being pulled from the ‘Admin’ or CMS part of the app, where tutors can log in.

Part of our development work included making sure the website, VLE and Totara all worked together so that a student is able to purchase a course on the website, automatically be set up in Totara as a user, and then access their course straight away. This flow was important for BPP because most of their competitors still use a paper-based system which is lengthy and time consuming for staff. This quicker, digital application process improves the user experience as well as being more efficient.

BPP already have their own mobile applications which work as companion apps to the main VLE. Although we did not build the apps, we facilitated the connecting of Totara to the mobile apps and liaised with BPP’s mobile app builder to make sure the content was being pulled through correctly. Allowing students to connect to Totara directly via a mobile app helps students access their course content wherever they are, and whenever it is convenient for them.

Single Sign-On (SSO) is a way users and admins can log in to one application and also be automatically logged in to other applications which are connected to the same central security system. We built BPP an SSO security system using Auth0 and SAML, linking ‘The Hub’ with Totara, course mobile apps, Power BI, and SharePoint. Having an SSO system is secure and convenient for users. It helps BPP deliver their learners an uninterrupted learning journey.

During this project we spent a lot of time and effort building applications and systems to surround Totara, but Totara is still the engine behind the learning for BPP. Although information is pulled through to other apps, all student activity is tracked within Totara and all course content is directly created in Totara, meaning users and admins can make the most of the full power of Totara functionality and benefit from Totara upgrades in the future.

We used the CDN ‘CloudFront’ to make sure the system can cope with huge spikes in traffic and still be reliable, quick and responsive, from anywhere around the globe. We also used separate high resource servers for the API and LMS parts of the platform, in different availability zones, and placed them behind a Load Balancer, to ensure an equal flow of traffic to each server. BPP’s platform is deployed to an environment-specific AWS account with restricted security groups, SSH key access, and VPNs to ensure a high level of security.

Finally, we use CloudWatch to monitor the system and alert us in the unlikely event that anything goes wrong. We also use RDS to host our databases, so that if anything goes wrong with a server that is out of our control, we always have a backup.
  • Stuart Kay

    "The solutions they deliver and standard of development is second to none. This wealth of development coupled with an insightful customer-service oriented account team is why I will continue to use them."
    Stuart Kay, Director of Marketing and Recruitment


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