Third Party Systems Integration: Challenges and opportunities.

15 November 2022 by Catalyst

Open Source software can help resolve many challenges when it comes to third-party systems integration, user accounts management and enrolments.

In the Moodle Moot Global event in Barcelona last month, our colleague, James Williams, presented on this topic, unpacking some of the challenges, options and opportunities for third party system integrations with Moodle.

Inefficiencies in admin time, data inconsistencies, login fatigue and reduced user engagement, as well as ‘security monitoring nightmare’ scenarios for cyber risk and compliance teams are just some of the most common pains experienced by larger and growing organisations.

“Those who have experienced the administration process of taking registration details from phone calls, emails, web forms and collating spreadsheets together, simply to ensure that all registrants have a valid user account and are enrolled correctly, know what we are talking about,” points out James.

“A key aspect of the challenge is that the work rarely stops, with the constant flow of late enrolment, unenrolment, often beyond “deadlines” or “census date”. As courses run more frequently, have larger cohorts, or more courses are added, this task continues to increase, and invariably grows over time into a complex process/integration that seems impossible to automate, pick apart, or rebuild.”

Many enterprise level and growing companies are tied up with proprietary custom solutions that over time, become inflexible and expensive to improve but there are still options!

“Our clients who are Moodle users are in a better position than those on custom build proprietary systems. This is because Moodle supports a range of options for automated user creation, authentication, and enrolment, which may be push or pull; bulk/batch-load on a schedule or individual; real-time creation or enrolment; and there are a range of benefits and drawbacks for each that form part of the decision.”

If you are on a proprietary systems, some of the key things to consider include:

  • Access to the database – if you have it, chances are Moodle can probably read it!
  • When do your import/export jobs run, and how long do they take?
  • Does the proprietary system have a (well-enough) documented API?

For others, there could be a “middleware” application between the student enrolment system and Moodle. Things to consider here include:

  • Does it have the ability to push to Moodle’s APIs, or
  • Does Moodle need to request data from its APIs?
  • Which is better for what?
  • Can we change it?

In summary:

Whether you are launching a new product e.g. a series of short courses which will require a whole new microcredential enrolment management; or looking to simplify your existing use of products and processes and resolve some of the common pains we have outlined above, there are established and trusted, open source solutions you can pursue.

Like many of our Consultants, James has background in the Education sector. Having technical experts in-house who have worked on the client’s side of the business means we understand the key needs, challenges and common scenarios, and can help you plan accordingly.

If you have any questions or need a second opinion on your systems integration, reach out to our team.