Griffith College is Ireland’s largest independent third level institution with locations in Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Established over 40 years ago, Griffith College enjoys national and a growing international reputation for student success.

The client

Griffith College is Ireland’s largest independent third level institution with locations in Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Established over 40 years ago, Griffith College enjoys national and a growing international reputation for student success. The College has gained an enviable, award winning reputation for providing students with first class programmes and excellent learning facilities.

Project background

Ireland’s recently appointed Minister for Higher Education and Innovation, Simon Harris, intends to expand the apprenticeship model of award delivery into a wider variety of sectors within the Irish economy as it recovers from COVID-19. The Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025 was recently launched. There are currently 18,000+ people under the apprenticeship scheme, which is oriented towards a wide range of occupations

Griffith College is the coordinating provider for the Advanced Healthcare Assistant Practitioner apprenticeship programme. The consortium steering Group includes representatives from  Nursing Homes Ireland, Home and Community Care Ireland, the Private Hospitals Association and the Alliance of Healthcare Assistants in Ireland.

Griffith College is also the coordinating provider for the Bar Manager Degree apprenticeship programme in Ireland and it intends to expand into other disciplines in the future.


During the development process of the Advanced Healthcare Assistant Practitioner apprenticeship programme,  Griffith College was challenged with how students could evidence the achievement of learning outcomes in the workplace, when they are off campus. Griffith needed a digital platform where students could evidence their workplace learning and assessment and their achievement of the workplace learning outcomes, to take the place of a paper book system used previously.


After some research, Griffith College decided to utilise the SmartEvidence feature in Mahara to create a structured ePortfolio where apprentices could easily evidence their achievement of the workplace learning outcomes.

Through an iterative process Griffith College was able to build draft structured ePortfolio templates using pages and collections attached to SmartEvidence frameworks; however, there were a number of unresolved issues with the structure and workflow. Griffith College quickly realised that they needed some specialised support to complete the implementation project. Staff from Griffith College had seen Catalyst Europe’s eLearning Consultants at a recent MoodleMunch event, presenting work on Moodle and Mahara. They were impressed and got in touch.

Griffith required guidance on site set-up and structure, user journeys for each stakeholder, onboarding, course design,  landing pages, and pushing of SmartEvidence collections to apprentices accounts. They also wanted help with Groups and submissions of assignments and the process of transitioning between Moodle and Mahara.

Catalyst advised on how to set up the site into institutions. Learners were issued with portfolio templates that matched the competencies they needed to evidence. This constituted a SmartEvidence framework for each portfolio. Catalyst advised on:

  • How to set up module groups, for apprentices to submit their portfolios to for marking, and;
  • How to manage users and roles.

We cannot sing Catalyst’s praises highly enough. We achieved a 6 month workload in just 6 weeks, (32 hours consultancy package). Without Catalyst’s input, we couldn’t have got up and running so quickly. We would welcome the opportunity to work together again with a further Mahara support package.

Jonathan Murphy, Head of Apprenticeship Department

The creation of help resources for apprentices followed. The theme configuration used for Griffith to facilitate the development of this new feature, will be integrated into core Mahara. Consequently, many institutions will benefit from these portfolio, adapted for the apprenticeship award delivery model.

Catalyst and Griffith College were involved in frequent workshops where the journey of each role was designed to be seamless. This applied to apprentices, teachers, workplace mentors, site administrators.

The developmental strategy of using the first three staged modules, visible to the learner, avoided overwhelming the students.


From the outset, the Digital Learning department at Griffith College was impressed with the level of communication and quality of training provided by Catalyst.

The College now aims to improve the IT skills of  learners and mentors, in as many subject disciplines as possible.  For example, expanding to Hospitality as a next step, followed by other faculties within the College.

The process for examiners and moderators to view and asses learning portfolios  is now much more streamlined and convenient.

Ultimately Griffith College wants to promote and invest in lifelong learning for their students and provide the opportunity of sustaining a professional Mahara ePortfolio, evidencing the continuation of their professional journey.

Support for Mahara ePortolio

Are you looking for support to optimise your Mahara platform? Catalyst IT is a multi-region Mahara Business Partner.  We provide cloud hosting, managed services and custom development for Mahara ePortfolio Systems.

Contact the team at Catalyst