Background pattern

ResourcesCustomer Stories

University of Wisconsin-Madison implements a technically customised LMS to deliver learning to two key audiences

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a leading provider of education in the US. It prides itself on its commitment to research and world-class education.

The Challenge

As part of its commitment to entrepreneurship within the University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing wanted to start selling some of its outreach courses to two very different external audiences.

They originally carried out a pilot study using WordPress and plugins, but realised they needed more funding to make a platform that met their design and function requirements. Therefore, the University of Wisconsin–Madison needed to find an alternative LMS, which would be flexible enough to accommodate their unique requirements while remaining within budget.

There were also some technical considerations. The University of Wisconsin–Madison had two sets of courses in a web-based system that was not a true LMS, and were tracking registration using spreadsheets. Also, all credit card transactions on the e-commerce platform needed to happen on the University’s CashNet system, which was a mandatory technical requirement.

The LMS needed to provide e-commerce and bulk license management capabilities for different organisations. As well as this, some of the existing content had been created in Flash, and therefore did not work on mobile devices, posing a challenge to an organisation wanting to deliver more mobile content to learners.

The Solution

The University of Wisconsin–Madison identified immediately that Totara Learn would be flexible enough to allow them to deliver content to their two key audiences. The University’s Geri-Res programme would be used by nursing home employees who don’t receive much professional development after their degree to help them improve their skills over time.

Secondly, its eSchoolCare programme would be accessed by K-12 school nurses requiring certification in using epipens, inhalers and other medical equipment to keep them current, confident and connected with the latest school nursing standards.

eClass4learning and fellow Totara Partner Synegen worked closely with University of Wisconsin–Madison to design and implement a Totara Learn instance which would facilitate the delivery of content to both audiences. This was a huge task which involved migrating all content, adding new content, changing the navigation, refreshing the look and feel and adding custom themes to the platform to completely transform the user experience.

“We are very novice customers. We didn’t know the industry language, have never done something like this before. eClass4learning had the patience to explain everything. We never felt bad for asking any questions. eClass4learning held our hands through all of this.”
– Kimberly Nolet, Research Program Manager, UW Madison

Other technical challenges included ensuring all data remained on the University’s servers and the LMS/e-commerce solution would securely connect with UW’s payment processing platform. eClass4learning and Synegen worked together to ensure that this would be a smooth process. Both Partners also worked together to ensure university staff received all the training they needed. eClass4learning provided training on how to use the LMS itself, while Synegen focused on the technical aspects of the eCommerce/bulk registration site for easy data management.

Synegen also built a custom plugin to enable users to take notes on pages within Totara Learn and to bookmark pages. This is a great example of how the flexibility of Totara Learn allows for a more tailored platform for users.

“Synegen built a customised e-commerce piece, processing credit cards according to UW Madisons’ standards. This allowed us to be more hands off staff with our standards at UW Madison. Synegen built everything, it was a seamless experience for us and the users. It integrated really well with Totara Learn.”
– Kimberly Nolet, Research Program Manager, UW Madison

Why Totara Learn?

The key reasons that University of Wisconsin–Madison opted for the learning management system Totara Learn over other alternatives included:

  • Scalability
  • Cost-effective
  • Tracking and reporting functionality
  • Range of features
  • Intuitive


The Results

Since the programme’s launch in October 2015, University of Wisconsin–Madison has received fantastic feedback on the LMS, and have had absolutely no reported technical issues – a major improvement on their previous systems. They are anticipating that Totara Learn will help them save on management costs, with less staff time required compared with their previous system.



The University is also planning on creating translated versions of the LMS and content for its varied audiences, which should help increase uptake of its learning programmes.

It is hoped that one day, this LMS will support thousands of users who will turn to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for vital healthcare training.

Background pattern

Prepare your people for tomorrow, today.