Improving ACE's LMS experience with Drupal
About the project
American Council on Education
The American Council on Education (ACE) convenes, organizes, mobilizes, and leads advocacy efforts that shape public policy, helping colleges and universities serve students, communities, and the broader public good through high-quality innovation.
ACE’s peer-to-peer online learning platform, Engage, was developed to improve equity, expand access to colleges and universities, and diversify the higher education leadership pipeline.
Although Engage is an excellent tool, ACE needed to add new functionalities and new tools to improve community interactions within the platform, which was a feature that their current technology did not support.
ACE decided to develop two systems. The first was based on the Drupal-based learning management system Opigno LMS, and the second on a Drupal-based Community Engagement Platform called Open Social. Embedding these systems within Engage would empower the platform with new tools, thus modernizing and adapting it to the ACE community’s current needs.
As this challenging project began to take shape, ACE knew they needed a company with proven experience in Drupal and extensive technical expertise. Having evaluated more than 20 providers, ACE chose Kadabra; first and foremost, because of their experience with Drupal and WordPress, but strongly supported by a long list of references and endorsements from past clients.
"Kadabra was a pleasure to collaborate with. They were able to do exactly what we needed quickly and efficiently–even when it took us a couple of tried to know what exactly we did want. The technical approach they took to implementation demonstrated a strong command of Drupal development best practices, and final product was well made and consistent with our specification and our users’ needs.
The project was high-priority for ACE, and they requested a very short window. We had less than three months to complete the work—but that wasn’t the only complication.
Perhaps the biggest challenge was in the implementation itself. As the foundational LMS platform would not change, the new tools needed to integrate into Engage and behave like they were part of the core system.
We got to work and devised an elegant solution that would satisfy every requirement. Our approach allowed us to complete the job quickly and succeed in implementing new systems without “reinventing the wheel” of their existing platform.
The solution (to both issues) was to create microsites in Drupal Opigno and Drupal Open Social, then embed them into Engage. This approach enabled us to design a seamless user experience that did not force the user off the site to gain the new interactive functions or make it look or feel like they were leaving the site.
We accomplished this using the “Learning Tools Interoperability” specification, which allowed us to embed Drupal web applications within the interface and sync accounts and user credentials, among other things.
Additional features included (WCAG) 2 Level AA Conformance, SCORM compliance, and integration with H5P, which allowed ACE to start creating interactive videos, presentations, and quizzes, plus fully interactive timelines, and more.
The solution we designed and implemented enabled ACE to realize substantial improvement in the flexibility of their Engage platform. The new functionality provided them with a tool that markedly improved its community’s communication, interaction, engagement, and collaboration.
We finished the project and launched well within the expected three-month timeframe, enabling the Engage community to truly engage, which had not previously been possible.