Rose Bruford College is a small, specialist HEI delivering training in all aspects of theatre making and performance. Our relationship with ULCC is longstanding and, over the past five years, this has involved hosting our instances of Moodle and Mahara. The College provides two pure online (‘distance learning’, although we have abandoned this nomenclature) courses, a blended post graduate certificate in teaching and learning for HE; and all of our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes have a VLE presence and employ online learning to some degree.
Over the past twelve months we have sought to establish single sign-on (SSO) between our ULCC-hosted Moodle and other College services, for a number of reasons:
- as a response to the growing maturity and embedded-ness of Moodle in our culture of teaching and learning,
- to mitigate password fatigue for staff and students,
- and as an enhancement in light of a recent Higher Education Review and our application for taught degree awarding powers (TDAP).
This was also – to put it simply – something that we have wanted to accomplish for a number of years!
The Moodle SSO Solution
Over the summer, our account manager, Toby Yeung, and I discussed the project: sponsors, stakeholders and potential solutions. Following this, Hans Litteck and Matt Hull were in contact with our Head of IT, Marc Wilson, and arrived at the use of Active Directory via Shibboleth for SSO as our preferred solution.
A testing period allowed us to identity the changes that would be needed for SSO to function using staff and student UPNs as Moodle usernames; and for approval to be sought through our committee structure and at SMC. Once we were confident that the solution would work, staff and students were informed of the switchover, which took place on Monday 19th October.
Migration of student accounts was rapid and seamless. Staff accounts were dealt with through a series of queries on our Moodle database; and manual repairs were made to a number of Mahara accounts to repair the existing SSO link with Moodle. We are indebted to the efficiency and industry of our colleagues at ULCC as the move to SSO was effected on the day.
Moodle SSO Benefits
Some benefits have been felt immediately whilst others are anticipated at the next year end/rollover and in the long-term future.
- Staff and students now work with a single set of login details for all College services. It is hoped that ease of access will drive the use of all services that are reached through this single set of details, e.g. the VLE, College webmail, ATHENS; as well as reducing the number of failed logins, forgotten passwords and so on.
- This has also allowed us to standardise and streamline workflows for new account creation and maintenance, and to better understand the needs of constituent groups who are neither staff nor students, e.g. external examiners.
- The roles of IT and VLE staff are further clarified and this points the way towards, for example, further efficiencies through MIS integration in the future.
Thanks to all at ULCC for their advice, expertise and hard work on this project…