Note: Some of the information in this article was taken and/or modified from TotaraLMS Help Center.
Totara LMS creates routes that allows the learner to build knowledge progressively. It’s a well-structured sequence of steps. The main goal of learning paths is to “construct personalized transitions between the information to be accessed and their own cognitive structures” (Jih 1996).
Using the learning paths of Totara LMS we can achieve this goal. The learning paths are created using Programs, Certifications and Learning plans.
Summary of Sections
Before getting into the details of learning paths, please note the structure that will be followed.
The article will conclude with pointers to further resources:
Programs are created by the site administrator. The way that these programs work is by connecting competencies with linked courses, which are required in order for the learner to complete the program.
There can be groups of learners that are assigned to complete the program. They are divided by the position, the organization or by the management hierarchy. Also in programs, there can be groups that are called audiences which enroll groups of users (e.g. all users with the position of System Administrators who work for the company ABC). When new staff members become part of these groups, they get enrolled into these audiences based upon their affiliations.
The learner works through these courses in the order that the site administrator specifies. Every learner gets notification for different tasks, overdue work, discussions, due dates etc. Learners can constantly be enrolled to new courses.
When the learner finishes the coursework that was required, Totara will check if the rules that the site administrator has set for course completion are met.
Each learner has its own Record of Learning and Required Learning pages.
In many cases, there are programs with recurring courses. Totara can automatically create a copy of the course and the activities, enroll and notify the learners, when the time comes to do the course again (e.g. each year, starting in October, company ABC, starts a course about Health and Safety. This course is obligatory to the Health and Safety managers so that their knowledge is tested).
In this diagram you can see a basic idea of a program.
Certificates are created by the site administrators. They are created with two paths.
The first path it is so called original certification path and the second path is called recertification path.
The recertification path is based on the original path, by reusing it. Also you can always define a separate path.
If both types of certifications have been used in the course, the grades and the completion details are recorded and archived. The completion criteria for activities such as face-to-face, forums, quizzes and SCORMS are reset. There are certain differences in the process of activity reset depending on the completion requirements.
Also there is a practical side of certification. They can replace the recurring program functionality. Recurring programs create new copy of the course each time learners need to retake a course. This way, over time there are multiple copies of the same course. Certifications archive the learners work in the course. In order for the learners to complete the course again, the activities are reset.
In the programs section the example of Health and Safety was mentioned. There we mentioned that each year employees are tested on Health and Safety. If we create courses for each year of examination, the system will be full with extra courses; instead, they reuse the original certification path, and if conditions are met, the will get the completion record once again, and the completion data is archived.
As part of the archiving process each activity needs to be reset. The effect of the reset on each activity is different and it needs to be treated separately. In the table below you can see the outlines of the core activities that will be reset.
Using learning plans in Totara will allow the staff members to get access to relevant learning. This relevant learning can combine multiple activities. Learning plans will allow tracking of the progress of specific events in the system and the whole plan as well.
There are models that organizations can use to support their staff.
By default a learning plan has four components:
- Courses – the courses that the learner is scheduled to complete under the learning plan.
- Competencies - the competencies the learner is scheduled to complete under the learning plan.
- Objectives – Objectives are a free text field that allow the manager or learner to enter objectives they would like to work on which are perhaps not covered by competencies.
- Programs - the programs the learner is scheduled to complete under the learning plan.
Combining these components you can create different models of learning plans
Basically there are four different models of learning plans:
- Competency centric
- Program centric
To use the Competency centric model you have to switch off Objective, Programs and Course components.
To use the Program centric model you have to switch off Objective, Courses and Competency components.
To use the Competency/Objective model you have to switch off Course and Programs components
The Hybrid model allows mixture the mixture of the four components.
Learning plans consist of workflows. The settings of the workflow control who is able to set up the learning plan i.e. adding courses, competencies, objective and programs. Also in the workflow settings you can approve a plan and complete a plan.
Basically there are four types of pre-set workflows
- Basic workflow – a workflow where options such as due date, priority, competencies, and programs are turned off.
- User driven workflow – a workflow where the learner has control. The manager can view the plan, but changes cannot be made.
- Manager driven workflow – a workflow where the manager has full control. The learner can send requests and the manager must approve them
- Custom workflow – this kind of a workflow is created to suit your requirements. For an example, a learner can mark the plan complete but so can the manager or a certain date can mark the plan to be completed. For these kinds of workflows you need advanced knowledge.
Please find below a number of pointers to further information