iris upgrade on 7th – 8th December 2020


In early December of this year, iris will be receiving a major update that will have a big impact on the platform’s functionality as well as its look-and-feel. As part of the upgrade process, iris will have to go into maintenance for a stretch of 2 days. This means that iris will be inaccessible, both inside and outside the Trust, for the duration of this period.

In this post, we want to take a bit of time to outline the when, what, how and why this is happening to give you as much notice as possible.

What Is Going to Happen?

On 7th and 8th December 2020, iris is going to be down for maintenance. For the entirety of these two days, you will be unable to access iris until the upgrade is complete. With this timing in mind, iris should be back in working order on 9th December 2020.

During this 2-day period, we and our providers, Think Associates, will be taking all the necessary steps to update iris. This means that we will be unable to answer support emails. Meetings related to course development as well as training sessions will also be suspended until the upgrade is complete.

What if I have statutory/mandatory training to complete by these dates?

If your e-learning mandatory training is due on 7th or 8th December, you will have to complete your training on iris by 6th December.

If you have booked face-to-face sessions, these can still go ahead, but the registers can not be uploaded until the site is made live on the 9th.

Will I be able to do my training on 9th December?

We expect that iris will be fully functional on 9th December. There is always a chance that some systems may not work properly. We recommend any mandatory due around this time to be completed by 6th December or allow for a few days after 9th December if you can for compliance training.

What if I am running live sessions booked for these dates?

For live sessions, iris affects your ability to book a session (if you are a learner) and your ability to check and register attendance (if you are a trainer/educator). We advise that you check your live session dates for the period between 7th – 11th December. Learners should either make their bookings ahead of this period or contact the administrators responsible for those sessions.

For educators, you may contact us to provide you with an alternative solution for sessions you are running during the upgrade period. Remember you can always add attendees and registers when the site comes back online.

What Will Change?

Once the update is complete and iris is back online, there will be a number of changes that will have been made. The under-the-hood changes will be less obvious to you, aside from some possible speed optimisations that will essentially make iris load a bit faster. You will notice, though, that your iris dashboard, as well as course pages, will look different.

We have chosen a minimalistic design that feels more modern and light-hearted. We wanted to make the environment a bit more colourful as well to make the platform more approachable, a place where you will feel more eager to develop yourselves professionally.

There will be new features added that allow for greater flexibility in terms of course management and activity tracking. Here are some key features:

Video Completion Tracking

A lot of you have been waiting for this feature. Once iris is upgraded, we will have the ability to track video completions. We originally intended this to be added sooner. However, the feature was not compatible with iris’s current version so we had to postpone this until the system was upgraded.

Robust Forms

You have been asking for the ability to create and manage forms on iris and we are pleased to announce that this is also coming with the upgrade. Our new plugin will allow you to create forms that can be applied in a variety of ways. We expect this to replace the Survey and Questionnaire activities we currently used after the new plugin has been tested in the wild.

New Course Templates

Course pages will also be receiving a facelift that will allow for easier activity tracking. It will also make course pages easier to understand in terms of completion requirements.

Why Is This Change Being Made?

Our learning platform, iris, is built on a Learning Management System (LMS) called Totara Learn. Up until now, we have been using an older version which is slowly becoming unsupported by plugins and feature sets that we would like to have in the future. With the newer version of Totara that we will be receiving, we will be able to provide a better learning and user experience for you, our learners, subject matter experts and educators. This new iris will also allow for greater flexibility by enabling more options for course development and management.

We understand that iris being unavailable for two whole days poses an inconvenience. This is why we are communicating this to you ahead of time, to hopefully reduce the impact this will inevitably have on essential training and other learning functions that are core to the Trust. The trade-off is that once the update is complete and the bugs have been quashed, we will have a better, more flexible iris to do our training and learning on.

Contact the iris Team if you have any questions or concerns.