SIAA Uses Moodle by eThink to Provide a Community-Oriented Online University for Members

By August 29, 2017Case Studies
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Background

The Strategic Insurance Agency Alliance, also known as SIAA, is a national alliance of independent insurance agencies dedicated to the creation, retention, growth, and continued success of the independent insurance agency distribution system. Through SIAA, smaller agencies or independent insurance agents have access to competitive markets and are provided the resources and training to successfully grow their business.

Within SIAA, the Training and Learning Center (TLC) offers courses to over 6,000 members that provide education in the areas of sales and agency growth.

Challenge

Through the Training and Learning Center and Moodle, SIAA hoped to create the concept of a shared university to bring members closer together and provide a space where members could exchange valuable knowledge and resources.

However, before they could begin, they needed to find a Moodle partner that offered reliable support and hosting. SIAA had been using Moodle for a few years with a vendor that did not have the resources or the knowledge to effectively maintain and scale their Moodle site.

“As a company, we found ourselves in a terrible position. Our previous vendor ignored all industry recommendations and loaded their Moodle site onto a Window’s server, while at the same time failing to setup back-ups or plan for future migrations or upgrades. We were in dire straits, and it was clear that we needed to correct the situation,” said Jeff Chidester, Director of the Training and Learning Center at SIAA.

Due to the lack of support and consultation provided by SIAA’s previous Moodle vendor, SIAA’s site remained stagnant and underutilized. Their Training & Learning Team knew that they needed to find a more comprehensive solution that could support their educational efforts.

Solutions

Fully-Managed Moodle Site

SIAA chose eThink Education to provide a fully-managed Moodle experience covering all of their Moodle needs including implementation, hosting, market-leading support, integrations, unlimited modules, consulting, and more. Moodle by eThink provided SIAA with the expert hosting and support needed to ramp up their Moodle usage and move forward with building out their online training center.

During the implementation process, SIAA and eThink outlined the site structure to provide an attractive and easy-to-use interface for members.

“During the site creation, eThink went out of their way to provide helpful feedback. Subtle recommendations they made about how we name our categories, how we line up our courses, and how we handle our help desk made a significant impact to the user experience,” said Chidester. “Students know exactly where they’re going and are able to navigate the user interface easily due to eThink’s suggestions.”

Integrations & Features

eThink was able to enable Single Sign On for users within the Moodle platform, eliminating the need for multiple logins. Furthermore, eThink was able to integrate Moodle directly with Course Merchant, SIAA’s eCommerce platform which allows instructors to sell their courses online, thus providing a seamless transaction directly within the platform.

“A feature that eThink set us up with that has come in handy is the ability to request to enroll in a course. This feature allows a member to show interest in a course that is already full, which is helpful in seeing which courses are generating the most interest and if we should provide multiple classes to accommodate demand,” said Chidester.

Seamless Moodle Migration

“Every vendor we originally reached out to was either reluctant to try and help us out of our predicament or did not want to try and tackle our problem, except for eThink,” said Chidester. “eThink took a look at our system, gave us an honest assessment, and presented a safe path forward.”

Even with the difficulties posed by the fragile state of SIAA’s old environment, eThink was successfully able to migrate every one of SIAA’s courses into the new Moodle by eThink environment.

Results

Community-Oriented Online University

With a quality Moodle site, SIAA was able to create the community-oriented online university that they wanted. SIAA creates the courses that agents want to see and recruits members from master agencies to help create and facilitate classes, enabling them to share their knowledge and experience with the rest of the network.

Through Moodle, the collective knowledge and years of experience of SIAA’s members are shared amongst members, enabling them to grow as professionals in their fields and expand their businesses.

“With our previous Moodle provider, we were on a sinking boat and needed to jump ship. Honestly, we were just looking for a life boat to jump to, but instead we jumped onto the eThink cruise ship,” said Chidester.

“eThink understood right from the beginning what we were trying to achieve. We wanted to bring some of the strength of a collegiate educational approach to a commercial business. Now, SIAA is no longer a loose confederation. With Moodle, we have an extensive Training and Learning Center and have created a team atmosphere that binds our members together.”