Hiram College Improves Online Learning Efficiency With Moodle™ by Open LMS

Discover how Open LMS helped to consolidate Hiram College’s multiple LMSs into one unified platform and integrate the institution’s most important systems.

About Hiram College

Founded in 1850, Hiram College continues today as one of the US’s most respected liberal arts institutions. Located in Ohio’s Western Reserve, Hiram has long been committed to educational excellence, helping students develop a 21st-century skillset and mindset that will allow them to thrive in their personal lives, at a time when societal changes are constant and complex. The College’s New Liberal Arts™ program prepares students to answer tough questions, solve complex problems, and communicate their ideas through a broad, interdisciplinary curriculum. Recognized by Colleges of Distinction, The Princeton Review, U.S. News and World Report, and as a top baccalaureate college by Washington Monthly, Hiram enrolls approximately 1,000 students in its traditional program and about 200 adult learners in its Center for Adult Studies programs.

MORE CASE STUDIES FOR YOU TO READ |Copenhagen Business Academy’s Search for a Better Learning Experience in Post-Pandemic Higher Education

The Challenges & Goals


One of the main reasons that Hiram College began looking for an alternate Learning Management System (LMS) solution was to unify the two separate learning platforms that it had previously been using, which had been causing confusion for faculty and students. Hiram was using the open-source Moodle™ LMS, hosted by a Moodle™ partner, for its face-to-face and blended courses, and an online program manager for its completely online courses. Hiram wanted to consolidate its LMSs into one centralized platform to simplify training and support, and allow for a better user experience.

In order to keep Hiram’s online courses and sites running throughout the transition, it required a multi-step implementation process to transition its sites during a single calendar year and achieve all of its goals without interrupting the learning experience for students and faculty.

Real-Time SIS Integration

Additionally, achieving a seamless integration between the institution’s Student Information System (SIS) and its LMS was incredibly important to Hiram College. Many of Hiram’s faculty and staff had previously been required to become familiar with two different systems. Some aspects of the college’s previous system were integrated, but others required duplicate efforts and additional manual intervention. The redundant processes were a large drain on Hiram’s resources. In the transition to its new open-source LMS, Hiram wanted to ensure it was using its LMS and its available functionality to its full potential.

READ ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF A MOBILE LEARNING APP |How Casper College Streamlines Student Learning Experiences With a Branded Mobile App Powered by Open LMS

iOS Compatibility

Another of Hiram’s challenges was to integrate Moodle™ into its iOS-dependent campus. In Fall 2017, Hiram College became the first higher education institution in Ohio to fully implement a 1:1 iPad Mobile technology initiative with its rollout of the Tech and Trek™ program. In 2019, Hiram was named an Apple Distinguished School for 2019-2022. All students, faculty, and staff were issued iPad bundles that include keyboards and Apple Pencils, and the technology has been fully integrated into the curriculum. Therefore, it was extremely important for all software applications to be compatible with the iPads. Hiram needed a thoughtful and responsive partner to help craft a Moodle™ instance that integrated well into the iOS environment to encourage faculty innovation and significantly improve the student user experience.

Quality of Service

Hiram was looking for a solution that would provide excellent quality of service while avoiding the costs associated with having two platforms and hosts. The host for Hiram’s completely online courses was responsive, but the number of courses being offered did not justify the cost. On the other hand, the college was experiencing challenges with the service it was receiving from its previous Moodle™ provider that hosted face-to-face and blended courses, both in terms of ticket response times and the inability to integrate a plugin or configure integrations without high additional costs. Hiram was looking for a cost-effective Moodle™ provider who fully supported its goals and gave the college its desired level of service.

ROLLING OUT EXAMS? HERE’S HOW ONE SCHOOL DID IT |How Regent Business School Delivers Moodle™-Based Exams With Open LMS

The Solution

Hiram College chose to partner with Open LMS due to the high level of support the team offered and the positive experience of Open LMS customers. Open LMS’s fully-managed LMS solution and support model provided Hiram with a true partner dedicated to helping the college reach its institutional goals surrounding learning outcomes.

In order to meet all of Hiram’s goals without causing dramatic pauses to student site access, Open LMS developed a multi-phase implementation process that involved the building of three separate Moodle™ instances.

First, Site ‘A’ was created to house all of Hiram’s completely online courses to be taught in Spring 2019, as well as all courses offered in the first session of Summer 2019. The site went straight to live so students, faculty, and administrators could pilot the new platform. Site ‘B’ was then developed to transfer over Hiram’s larger Moodle™ instance that had been hosted by its previous Moodle™ partner, and allow for testing automated solutions for authentication and enrollments. The final implementation, Site ‘C’, is the final, unified platform that now serves as the comprehensive hub of learning across the college. This site was implemented in the second session of Summer 2019, which allowed for a full capture of user data and content.

The integration logic tested during the Site 'B' phase was applied to Site 'C' to allow for fully automated user and course management systems. The Open LMS team deployed multiple patches to reduce some of the issues caused to the Moodle™ site when used on an iOS system. Two main patches had to be applied. The first patch assured correct marking capabilities on PDFs generated from student assignment submissions. The second patch fixed issues that occurred when scrolling through the Moodle™ site using an Apple Pencil. These two patches were both crucial to making Hiram’s Moodle™ site function with ease on the iPad bundles used by Hiram students and faculty.

In order to identify and patch issues like those experienced when using Moodle™ on an iOS system, Open LMS works with the open-source community to formulate patches quickly and effectively and create a user-friendly experience for all learners. Open LMS implemented seamless integrations for Hiram College to make sure its LMS and other solutions were working together. A full enrollment integration between Hiram’s SIS and the Moodle™ LMS eliminated time-consuming duplication efforts. A real-time SIS and LMS integration greatly improved workflow by automating the process of moving data from one system to another including courses, enrollments, attendance, and grades.

Open LMS also configured the LTIs, integrations on the Learning Tools Interoperability standard that Hiram had previously been using, seamlessly into the new Moodle™ site. During the transition, Hiram College continued to use Digication for student ePortfolios and assessments and McGraw Hill and other publishers for content building, resources, and testing. The integration of these other platforms made the transition to the new LMS smoother for Hiram by streamlining access to these important third-party tools through the new LMS. Students can now complete activities on a publisher’s website and have those grades automatically recorded in the Moodle™ gradebook, where it would have been previously necessary for the instructor to manually enter the grades into Moodle™.

HOW ONE COLLEGE WENT DIGITAL WITH ITS TRAINING |Colegio San Bartolomé La Merced and Its Successful Digital Transformation Thanks to Open LMS

The Results


Open LMS streamlined Hiram’s learning experience by consolidating its multiple LMSs into one unified platform and integrating the institution’s most important systems. With Hiram’s online resources now available in one centralized location, the user experience for students and faculty alike has been greatly enhanced. Additionally, the amount of time needed to transfer data between systems has been drastically reduced, if not eliminated completely.

Most importantly, Open LMS was able to work with Hiram to create a custom timeline for the implementation of its new site in stages, allowing Hiram’s students and faculty to maintain access to their learning resources throughout the transition.

HERE’S ANOTHER GREAT EXAMPLE OF LEARNING IN ACTION |University of Portsmouth Launches RISE, An Online Journal to Recognize Student Excellence

Customization, Automation, and Integrations

Open LMS optimized Hiram’s new Moodle™ environment with a number of integrations to automate back-end processes and provide users with a seamless learning experience. Open LMS’s real-time LMS and SIS integration automated course enrollment between the two systems, leaving more time for Hiram staff and faculty to focus on the students and course design.

“Now that we have moved to our permanent site, we will explore sending grades directly from Moodle™ into our Banner SIS, which will make the process much easier for faculty who use the Moodle™ gradebook with large classes,” says Litsa Varonis, project manager for the transition at Hiram College. The integrations with Digication and multiple publishers allowed Hiram to employ a best-of-breed content strategy by easily integrating this outside content into the Moodle™ platform. Being able to do this ensures that Hiram is able to choose the best learning content, regardless of its source, to meet its students’ learning needs without having to navigate multiple interfaces. Lastly, with the ease of use improvements and patches for iOS compatibility within Moodle™, Hiram has further improved the learning experience in an Apple Distinguished School. These integrations allow Hiram to improve the effectiveness of its learning program in a variety of ways while enhancing the end-user experience.

Additionally, Open LMS’s unlimited support model means that Hiram can continue to consult with Open LMS at no additional cost. With Open LMS, Hiram has the flexibility to make Moodle™ work for the institution rather than having to change its processes and goals to fit the limitations of its Moodle™ instance, as was the case with the previous providers.

DISCOVER MORE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION STORIES |How the University of Vassouras in Brazil Leaned Into Its Digital Transformation


Partnering with Open LMS has transformed Hiram College’s online learning experience for students, faculty, and administrators alike. Working with Open LMS has simplified the LMS process for Hiram College and has led to an optimized experience for both learners and back-end administrators.

"We did our due diligence and asked for testimonials from Open LMS customers. After hearing their glowing responses, we decided to move forward with Open LMS. They have excellent customer service, are very attentive to our questions, respond quickly, and have worked with us on adding plugins that will allow faculty more options in integrating other software they are using,” adds Litsa.

Through the incorporation of effective integrations and plugins, Open LMS has improved learning workflows and has greatly reduced the amount of manual maintenance needed by Hiram’s staff. With Open LMS’s help, Hiram College is now able to utilize open-source Moodle™ to its full potential.


Note: A version of this case study originally appeared on the eThink Education blog. eThink is now part of Open LMS and some details of the case study have been updated accordingly.

Want to see more LMS case studies? Open LMS has you covered! Click here to see more stories of how our customers are using our platforms and services. Alternatively, learn more about Open LMS’s solutions by requesting a personalized demo or trial.
Jeremy Schweitzer
About the author

Jeremy Schweitzer

Product Manager at Open LMS

Senior leader in education technology with a proven track record of supporting enterprise clients. My team develops and implements learning solutions that support organizations’ strategic goals. As a former systems administrator and instructional designer, my technical knowledge and people skills drive a systems approach when I conduct needs assessments and design solutions. My focus is building sustainable options for my clients that are adaptive to evolving needs and challenges. In my current role with Open LMS, I work with three learning management systems building solutions for clients in higher ed, non-profit, government, and corporate sectors.

Discover our solutions