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A lesson is an activity that uses a series of pages to present the learner with information and questions. You can create a simple lesson like a slideshow, where the learner navigates through a series of pages, or a branching lesson. A branching lesson allows you to present information in a non-linear way, where the learner is presented with a series of decisions that determine their path through the lesson.

The lesson activity allows learners answers to be scored and feedback to be given. Question types include:

  • Multiple choice
  • Multi-answer
  • True/False
  • Numeric
  • Short answer
  • Essay

All activities and resources are also available in the Totara Mobile app. Please note that activities and resources may work slightly differently in the Mobile app compared to on a desktop site. 

Content pages and branches

Content pages contain a set of links to other pages in the lesson. Each link in a content page has two components; a jump and a description that the learner sees as a button. A content page can effectively divide the lesson into a number of sections known as branches.

Within a lesson each branch can contain a number of pages and the end of a branch is usually marked by an End of branch page. Branches can be nested within each other, for example, a lesson might be structured so that specialist points are sub branches within the main subject branch. Working on sub branches can get complicated without a plan.

Content pages can also be used to hold content in a lesson as a simple page with a Continue button at the bottom of the page.

Planning a lesson

It is a good idea to plan your branched lesson out on paper before you try creating it in Totara. There are three basic pages that you can create:

  • Question pages: There are six question types to choose from: multiple choice, true/false, short answer, numerical, matching, and essay. You can create different jumps based on the learners’ answers
  • Content pages: A page with a set of links to other pages in the lesson
  • Simple page:  A Content page without the set of links. By default a Continue button will appear, with a jump to the next page

Creating a lesson

The lesson tool enables you to create a series of screens with links between them depending on the user's answer to questions or the pathway you have defined.  In other words, the lesson tool could be used for a decision-tree approach to learning. Since the learner's pathway through the lesson activity could be quite complex, it is important to plan your lesson. We suggest you take a few minutes to draw a flowchart for your lesson, outlining which screens need to be created. What will the first page display? What are the options? Where will the options take the learner? It’s important to answer these questions for each page of the lesson to avoid getting lost while you are actually creating the content.

You can then follow these steps to create a lesson:

  1. Click Turn editing on.
  2. Select Lesson from the Add an activity... menu.
  3. Customise the available settings.
  4. Click Save and display so you can start adding pages (or Save and return to course page to finish editing).

Lesson settings 

There are a large number of settings available for the lesson activity. These settings can be edited after the lesson is created.

Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).

SettingDescriptionNotes

Name

This is the name of the lesson activity the learner will see on the course page.-
DescriptionThe description of the lesson activity the learner will see on the course page.-
Linked mediaA media file may be uploaded for use in the lesson. A Click here to view link will then be displayed in a block called Linked media on each page of the lesson.-
Progress barWhen set to Yes the progress bar will display how far through the lesson the learner is. The progress bar is most effective in a linear lesson.-
Display ongoing scoreIf enabled, each page will display the learner's current points earned out of the total possible thus far.-
Display menu

If enabled, a menu allowing users to navigate through the list of pages is displayed.

-
Minimum grade to display menu

This setting determines whether a learner must obtain a certain grade before viewing the lesson menu. This forces the learner to go through the entire lesson on their first attempt, then after obtaining the required grade they can use the menu for review.

-
Slide show

When set to Yes, this enables the display of the lesson to be as a slide show.

-
Maximum number of answers

This value determines the maximum number of answers the trainer can use. The default setting is four.

-
Use default feedbackWhen set to Yes when a response is not found for a particular question, the default response of 'That’s the correct answer' or 'That’s the wrong answer' will be used.-
Link to next activityAllows the trainer to include a link to any activity in the course at the end of the lesson.-
Available from

Specify a date you want the lesson to be available from. 

-
DeadlineSpecify a deadline the lesson must be completed before. 
Time limit

This puts a time limit on the lesson. The timer will not evict the learner from the lesson when the time is up, however, a question answered after the time limit is not counted.

-
Password protected lessonThe learners will require a password to access the lesson.-
PasswordAllows you to set the lesson password.-
Allow learner review

When set to Yes this will allow learners to navigate back through the lesson and change their answers.

-
Provide option to try a question again

If enabled, when a question is answered incorrectly, the learner is given the option to try it again for no point credit, or continue with the lesson.

-
Maximum number of attempts

This value determines the maximum number of attempts a learner has in answering any question. If answered incorrectly repeatedly, when the maximum is reached, the next page of the lesson is displayed.

-
Action after correct answer

After answering a question correctly, there are three options for the following page:

  • Normal: Follow lesson path
  • Show an unseen page: Pages are shown in a random order with no page shown twice
  • Show an unanswered page: Pages are shown in a random order, with pages containing unanswered questions shown again
-
Number of pages to show

This is only applicable for lessons with pages shown in a random order. The default value is zero which means that all the pages are shown in a lesson.

-
Grade

Select the type of grading used for this activity. If scale is chosen, you can then choose the scale from the scale dropdown. If using point grading, you can then enter the maximum grade available for this activity.

-
Grade category

This setting controls the category in which this activity's grades are placed in the gradebook.

-
Grade to passThis setting determines the minimum grade required to pass. The value is used in activity and course completion, and in the gradebook, where pass grades are highlighted in green and fail grades in red.-
Practice lesson

A practice lesson will not show up in the grade book.

-
Custom scoringThis will allow you to put a numerical point value on each answer. Answers may have negative or positive values.-
Retakes allowed

This determines whether the learners can take the lesson more than once, or once only.

-
Handling of re-takes

When learners are allowed to re-take the lesson this determines how the grade is calculated, as either a mean, or best tries.

-
Minimum number of questions

This setting specifies the minimum number of questions that will be used to calculate a grade for the activity.

-
Common module settings

See Common module settings to learn more.

-
Activity completion

See Activity completion to learn more.

-
Restrict access

See Restrict access to learn more.

In addition to the standard activity completion conditions, the lesson also has Require end reached and Require time spent criteria.

-
Tags

See Tags to learn more.

-

Importing questions

You can import questions from a variety of formats. 

  1. In the lesson go to the Edit tab. 
  2. Click on Import questions (if you are viewing the Collapsed tab then this will be under the Add a new page... dropdown menu).
  3. Select the format from the dropdown menu.
  4. Add the file (either via the file picker or by dragging and dropping it into the file area). 
  5. Click Import

The lesson module will create a page for each question you import.

Importing a question.

Adding a content page

A content page is a lesson page without responses to learner selections. Instead, each selection option branches to another page. Content pages do not impact a learner’s grade. A lesson may start with a Content page that acts as a table of contents.

  1. In the lesson go to the Edit tab. 
  2. Click on Add a content page (if you are viewing the Collapsed tab then this will be under the Add a new page... dropdown menu).
  3. Add the Page title and Page content
  4. Add the jump buttons in the Content # sections by adding the text as the Description and then setting the Jump location via the dropdown menu. 
  5. Repeat step 3 for up to four jump buttons. 
  6. Click Save page
If you add no description or jump information a Continue button will appear at the bottom of the content page that will jump to the next page.

Adding a content page.

Adding a question

A question page consists of a title, some content, and a question at the bottom of the page. When a learner answers a question, they see the response for their answer and a 'Continue' button. The 'Continue' button takes the learner to the appropriate branch page.

  1. Click the Add a page... dropdown select and click Question.
  2. Select the type of question you want to create.
  3. Fill in the question details. 
  4. Add the Jumps (the page the learner will move to when the option is selected - these can also be added later).
  5. Add the Score.
1 denotes a right answer 0 denotes a wrong answer.

Adding a cluster

A cluster allows you to group questions together in order to present a randomised question from the cluster to learners. To add a new cluster.

  1. Click the Add a page... dropdown select and click Add a cluster.
  2. Give the cluster a name and set the page jump.
  3. Click Save page

You will then need to add a number of questions and then add an End cluster page, which simply closes off the cluster. 

Managing lesson pages

Once you have created one or more pages you will be able to access them under the Edit tab. You will see the questions listed with their name and description followed by an Actions column. The available actions for a page are move, edit, duplicate, hide, and delete. 

Editing a lesson page.

Grading essay questions

Essay questions require manual grading (a person must grade this) with an optional comment.

  1. Click the Grade essays tab at the top of the lesson page.
  2. Click the essay link in the middle column of the page.
  3. Give the essay a score and add some comments.
  4. Click the Save changes button.
  5. When you have finished grading essays, click the Email ALL graded essays link to notify your learners.

As learners complete the lesson, their scores are recorded in the gradebook. If you’ve allowed learners to attempt a lesson multiple times, their scores may change as they repeat the lesson.

Plugin settings

If you go to Site administration > Plugins > Activity modules > Lesson you can configure the site wide settings. Ticking the Advanced box alongside any of the settings options allows you to hide that setting under advanced options in the Lesson. Users will still be able to access these options, they will just have to click the Show advanced link to do so. 

Remember to click Save changes once you are finished.

SettingDescriptionNotes

A media file may be uploaded for use in the lesson. A Click here to view link will then be displayed in a block called Linked media on each page of the lesson.

-

Sets the width of the popup displayed for a linked media file.

-

Sets the height of the popup displayed for a linked media file.

-

Displays a close button as part of the popup generated for a linked media file.

-

If enabled, a bar is displayed at the bottom of lesson pages showing approximate percentage of completion.

-

If enabled, each page will display the learner's current points earned out of the total possible thus far.

-

If enabled, a menu allowing users to navigate through the list of pages is displayed.

-

This setting determines whether a learner must obtain a certain grade before viewing the lesson menu. This forces the learner to go through the entire lesson on their first attempt, then after obtaining the required grade they can use the menu for review.

-

If enabled, the lesson is displayed as a slideshow, with a fixed width and height.

-

Sets the width of the slideshow if it is enabled.

-

Sets the height of the slideshow if it is enabled.

-

Background colour to for the slideshow if it is enabled.

-

This setting specifies the maximum number of answers that may be used in the lesson. If only true/false questions are used, it can be set to 2. The setting may be changed at any time, since it only affects what the trainer sees, not the data.

-

If enabled, when a response is not found for a particular question, the default response of, 'That's the correct answer' or, 'That's the wrong answer' will be shown.

-
This setting determines if there is a link to another activity on the course. Within a lesson activity you will have a list of all the available activities on that course to choose from and therefore it cannot be set at a site level, you can however decide whether it is hidden under advanced option at a site level.-

If a time limit is set, a warning is displayed at the beginning of the lesson and there is a countdown timer. If set to zero, then there is no time limit.

-

Whether a password is required in order to access the lesson.

-

If enabled, learners can navigate through the lesson again from the start.

-

If enabled, when a question is answered incorrectly, the learner is given the option to try it again for no point credit, or continue with the lesson.

-

This setting specifies the maximum number of attempts allowed for each question. If answered incorrectly repeatedly, when the maximum is reached, the next page of the lesson is displayed.

-

Choose from:

  • Normal - follow lesson path
  • Show an unseen page
  • Show an unanswered page
-

This setting specifies the number of pages shown in a lesson. It is only applicable for lessons with pages shown in a random order (when Action after correct answer is set to Show an unseen page or Show an unanswered page). If set to zero, then all pages are shown.

-

A practice lesson does not appear in the gradebook.

-

If enabled, then each answer may be given a numerical point value (positive or negative).

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If enabled, learners can attempt the lesson more than once.

-

If re-takes are allowed, this setting specifies whether the grade for the lesson is the mean or maximum of all attempts.

-

This setting specifies the minimum number of questions that will be used to calculate a grade for the activity.

-

Totara Academy

The Totara Academy has a whole course dedicated to using the Lesson activity in Totara. Here you can learn more about using the lesson activity, find out about best practice, and give it a go yourself.


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