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Before upgrading to Totara Learn version 11 please ensure you site has been upgraded to Totara Learn 9 and check that your server meets the minimum requirements described in the Technical specification.

It is important to make sure your site is on at least v9 before upgrading to v11 as there were new features introduced in v9 such as multiple job assignments, which you need to have on your site before it can be upgraded to v11. You can read more on the Upgrading and using job assignments page and also by looking at the job assignment HR import consideration below. 

Upgrade process

  1. Log in as an administrator.
  2. Check the live logs to check if any users are currently using the site. The site will be offline while the upgrades are performed (Site administration > Reports > Live Logs).
  3. Enable maintenance mode in Totara Learn (Site administration > Server > Maintenance Mode).
  4. Log out.
  5. Back up the Totara Learn database.
  6. Back up the sitedata directory.
  7. Back up the Totara Learn source code directory.
  8. Make a copy of your config.php and any plugins you have installed.
  9. Remove the old source code - delete everything!
  10. Extract the new source code into the source code directory.

    Do not copy the new code on top of the existing code folder.

  11. Copy your config.php and any third party plugins back into the source code directory.
  12. Run the command below in your terminal, replacing www-data with your web users username (if using a Linux or Unix based system), otherwise you can navigate to the site URL (redirected automatically) to perform the upgrade via the browser.

    sudo -u www-data php admin/cli/upgrade.php

  13. Review the information provided and confirm you want to continue.
  14. Carefully check the output in the terminal and ensure no errors were encountered.

    If you have encountered an error the site will need to be rolled back, the issue fixed, and then the upgrade attempted again.

  15. Log in as an administrator.
  16. Review and save changes to new settings (if any).
  17. Disable server maintenance mode.
  18. Congratulations, your site is now upgraded. Read CHANGELOG.php for details on what is new.

Considerations for upgrading

When upgrading there are many things to consider both from a technical and training perspective. It is important to ensure all elements of your system are technically compatible, including your theme and any customisations. You will also want to make sure any training materials, and indeed any trainers, are up-to-date with new features and improvements. 


It is important to review the changelogs and make sure you understand what is changing. New features and improvements are likely to bring changes to interfaces, behaviour, and workflows. Our changelogs will help you identify which areas have changed, so you can then find information on new behaviours and workflows on this help site. This is important so that any internal training material you have can be updated and staff trainers can learn about what has changed.

You should also review any new administration settings, as new controls get added with every major release. These added controls may facilitate new functionality, improve security, or allow further customisation. Each setting should be reviewed so that you can check your Totara Learn site configuration is current and understood.

System requirements may also change and although these will have no impact for those using the site, you will need review them to ensure they are met during deployment of the new release. 


User experience (UX) changes will mean that you will need to review your theme. It is likely there will be new places that need to be styled to make them look a part of your site. This is because HTML structure, CSS classes, and Javascript changes have been made. New features also bring new interfaces.

The Standard Totara responsive, Custom Totara responsive, bootstrap base, and Kiwifruit responsive themes have been removed from Totara Learn v10+. You can read more in the Totara Learn developer documentation.


Our APIs can change significantly between major releases. We have a deprecation policy that ensures that all changes where possible are backwards compatible, and that customisations will continue to function in the short term. When backwards compatibility is being used developer debugging information will be printed out to inform you that customisations and plugins will need to be updated. It is important these changes are made as backwards compatibility is only maintained for a limited time (typically one major release).

Incompatible API changes are rare, but they do occur. If you have customisations using API that no longer functions you will be presented with a debugging notice and you'll find that your customisations don't function as they should.

Job assignment HR import source 

From version 10 of Totara Learn job assignments must be imported via a new job assignment element and cannot be imported as part of the user element anymore. Similar to the other importable elements (i.e. user, position, and organisation) this new element allows deletion with either using the deleted field or the option source contains all records. When you have several elements enabled the other elements could be processed in any order, but job assignments will be processed last. This allows creating the user in the user element, and then assigning them jobs in the same run of HR import. Guidance on upgrading you HR import files for the new job assignment source can be found on the HR import page.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

From version 11 of Totara Learn you will find a range of features to help support you in complying with the EU law for data protection known as GDPR. This law is enforced as of the 25 May 2018 and affects all EU citizens, including those working or living outside of the EU. So regardless of whether your organisation is based in Europe or not, if you hold any personal data about an EU citizen that is both about that individual ('concerning them') and is of a personal nature (defined as information that is 'relating to an identified or identifiable natural person') then you will need to ensure that data can be exported or removed as requested. You can read more on our User data management page.

Totara registration

You may be prompted to register your Totara Learn site, you can find more information on the Totara registration page.

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