Swinburne University
Learning Management System Replacement

Our client, Swinburne University of Technology, is a Melbourne head-quartered university with four campuses and over 50,000 students and 4,500 staff, academics and researchers from undergraduate to post-doctorate level. In 2017 Swinburne commenced their 2025 Strategic Plan, with a framework of three initiatives, namely “Future Ready Learners”, “Research with Impact”, and “Innovative Enterprise”. The execution of these initiatives required substantial investment and changes to the organisational structure, industry engagement, coursework design, and use of technology.

The Challenge

A key element of the 2025 Strategic Plan was the replacement of their legacy Learning Management System (LMS), which is used by teaching staff and students to distribute and access learning content for all university subjects. The existing legacy LMS, Blackboard, offered limited functionality for the digital era, while newer LMS products provided interactive engagement, embedded video content, real-time assessment tasks, optimised functionality for mobile devices, and ongoing investment in product improvement from leading global universities.

After selecting the product Canvas to replace the Blackboard LMS, the university needed to migrate the learning content for 3,300+ university subjects to the new system, with an operationally time-critical deadline for the commencement of the next academic year. The content migration had to be done manually, as the data was unstructured and contained multiple formats including text, video, images, and weblinks, while the two LMS environments also used incompatible system architecture.

The massive body of course content to be migrated required a stable workforce to ensure there were no delays and the hard deadline would be achieved; in addition once the content migration was completed the delivery team would no longer be required, therefore a managed augmented workforce solution was a strong fit for their needs.

The Solution

Talent and Avec provided a program team which included:
- Project Managers – reporting to the Swinburne Program Director and responsible for planning, scheduling, and academic stakeholder management.
- Business Analysts – responsible for defining the structure and design of the new learning management system data format and usability.
- PMO officers and coordinators – responsible for maintaining and updating all program reporting.
- A cohort of 70-80 Transition Officers – divided into Team Leaders, Senior Transition Officers and Transition Officers. Consisting of eight teams, these people were responsible for the manual data migration from Blackboard to Canvas.

Talent and Avec designed and executed a retention strategy which included:
- Monthly on-site meetings with staff and the on-hire team.
- Performance reporting from managers, identifying high performers and providing a pathway for promotion over the course of the program.
- Quarterly Morning Tea events provided on-site by Talent, with food and drinks provided in an informal setting for everyone to get to know each other better and discuss the program with the Avec team.
- Quarterly off-site social evening events with food and drinks provided, which helped improve team bonding, deepen working relationships between the Avec team and across the program team.
- Virtual bench provision to Swinburne, with a fortnightly updated list of candidate CVs who would be suitable options to hire and potentially replace under-performing staff or any upcoming resignations. This worked well on several occasions, with planned management of exiting staff after a successful replacement had been interviewed and accepted a contract.
- Career planning and training for all staff and contractors on the program team. This involved one-on-one telephone calls and meetings with team members, two group training events held by the Avec Account Manager, and engagement with the broader Talent and Avec business to secure new contracts and permanent employment upon successful completion of the LMS program.

The Difference

Talent and Avec provided a program team of 80-90 people where capacity was blended with capability through a robust delivery model. Resources were rapidly on-boarded, then managed by the Account Manager, Nathan Crawford-Condie, as an augmented workforce. Key elements of this included defining project team position descriptions, rapidly sourcing high quality candidates and on-boarding them, and the successful execution of a retention strategy to keep the project team of 80-90 staff and contractors stable for 18 months to ensure delivery to the tight deadline.

The Result

By working closely with Avec and Talent to deliver and manage an augmented workforce, Swinburne University successfully delivered the Canvas LMS program on time, under budget, and meeting all the defined business requirements.

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
John F Kennedy
35th President of the United States of America