In early September 2020, UniSA’s vice chancellor David Lloyd told the country’s leading news analysis program, ABC TV’s 7.30, that applications to UniSA Online are up 70 percent.
The high demand was driven by increased applications from onshore, domestic students.
UniSA already had a strong track record in online learning, with an established, dedicated mobile app and a portfolio of mobile classrooms. Still, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, regular lectures, classroom teaching, and exams went from physical to virtual.
The learning management system had been designed to service approximately 3,000 concurrent students and staff doing a variety of online activities. However, COVID-19 changed that, with all students additionally having to undertake exams online and creating further load.
The growth meant the Learning and Teaching Systems team had to ensure its systems could handle the greatly increased concurrent load.
"If all the students were going to be in the quiz module, which is quite resource-heavy, we needed to ensure it could handle up to 2,000 simultaneous users for the online exams alone, as well as supporting other concurrent activities. We had to do a lot of load testing of Moodle [learning management system] to see if it could cope," explains Richard Lamb, UniSA Manager, Learning and Teaching Systems, Information Strategy and Technology Services.