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Totara Learn offers different ways to measure achievement including using evidence and prior records of learning.


Users can add evidence of training received outside of the LMS including predefined content (evidence types) and files to help prove achievement. Evidence can be set up on the Record of learning and added to Learning plans.

Creating evidence types

Evidence types allow you to categorise the pieces of evidence that a user creates. Site Administrators can define evidence types (e.g. certificates, awards):

  1. Select Site administration > Learning plans > Evidence types.
  2. Create evidence types with name and description.
  3. This allows you to edit, delete and sort and view evidence types.

You can delete evidence types that are in use and the evidence item will revert back to no evidence type.

Create evidence custom fields

Evidence custom fields allow you to collect additional information about the evidence by creating fields to enter the data into.

The Description and Date completed custom fields that are created on upgrade/install are used by the Upload completion records tool.
If these two fields are deleted or their ID number is changed, the upload completion records tool will complete without displaying errors, but will not be able to add those two fields. 

  1. Select Site administration > Learning plans > Evidence custom fields.
  2. Choose the type of field required:
    • Checkbox: Tick for Yes, leave blank for No.
    • Date/Time: Allows dates with or without time to be input.
    • File: Allows files to be attached.
    • Location: Allows address to be input and the corresponding Google map to be displayed.
    • Menu of choices: Allows options to be displayed with one option able to be selected.
    • Multi-select: Allows options to be displayed with more than one option able to be selected.
    • Text area: Allows multi line text to be input.
    • Text input: Allows a single line of text to be input.
    • URL: Allows a link to an internet address to be input.
  3. All new fields must be given a unique Short Name and a Name (this is displayed on the profile page).
  4. Enter a Description of the field for your own reference.
  5. Select the custom field settings.
  6. Click Save changes to create the new field.

Custom field settings 




Full nameCustom field full name is the complete title of the custom field.-
Short name (must be unique)

Custom field short name is the abbreviated name of the custom field and can be used for display purposes.

Custom fields will appear as options on the edit item screen for items.

DescriptionA text description of this custom field.-
This field is required

This option specifies whether this is a mandatory or an optional field for users to complete.

Is this field locked?This option determines whether once information is populated in this field, it can be edited by the user.-
Should the data be unique?If you need the information populated in your field to be unique across the system (such as an ID number) select Yes to this option.-
Hidden on the settings page?

Sets the custom field visibility:

  • If Yes, the custom field will not be visible on the settings page or elsewhere where it would have been shown
  • If No, the custom field will be visible

The Hidden on the settings page setting would typically be set by an administrator who wants to hold private data on the evidence item. Hiding the field would normally be selected for a field that holds sensitive information.

Specific settings: Additional options may be displayed based on the type of field chosen. You can find these detailed below for each field type where they exist. 

There is only one specific field type, Checked by default which allows you to select either:

  • Yes: The Custom field checkbox will be checked by default.
  • No: The Custom field checkbox will not be checked by default.
Check box field type only. 

The following specific settings are available for the date/time field type:

  • Start year: Select the earliest available year for the field
  • End year: Select the latest available year for the field
  • Include time?: Tick to also include the time
Date/time field type only.

The following specific settings are available for the location field type:

  • Default Address:
  • Default Map size: Choose from SmallMedium, or Large
  • Default Map View: Choose from MapSatellite, or Map & Satellite (hybrid)
  • Default Display: Choose from Map & AddressMap, or Address
  • Set map location: Set the map location using the address above (if provided) or search for an address, town, or city

Location field type only.

Please check that your site adheres to the Google Maps JavaScript API Terms Of Service before changing the view to include a map. We strongly recommend your get a Google Maps JavaScript API Key or Client ID and set it within Totara.

Menu of choices

The following specific settings are available for the menu of choices field type:

  • Menu options (one per line): Enter the menu options that will appear in the dropdown box
  • Default value: Set the default value that will appear in the dropdown box

Menu of choices field type only. 

When setting the Default value it must be an option that appears in the menu options. Alternatively, you can also leave this setting blank if there is no default entry required.


In the Specific settings section for the multi-select field type you can set the Menu options (and icons). 

Enter a new option per box and use the links next to it to select an icon, make that the default option, or delete that option. 

Multi-select field type only. 
Text area

The following specific settings are available for the text area field type:

  • Default value: The text that will appear in the text area by default (leave blank if no default text is required)
  • Columns: The width of text area custom field
  • Rows: The height of the text area custom field (the number of lines)

Text area field type only. 

If a text editor plugin is applied to the text area, the height and width will be determined by the plugin and changing the Column or Row values may have no effect.

Text input

The following specific settings are available for the text input field type:

  • Default value: The text that will appear in the text area by default (leave blank if no default text is required)
  • Display size: The number of characters that will be displayed
  • Maximum length: The maximum number of characters the text field will accept
  • Regular expression validation: A regular expression that will be used to ensure entered text is in the expected format
  • Description of regular expression validation format: Add description message explaining required format to users

Text input field type only.

An example of a regular expression could be:


That expression will ensure the text consists of exactly three numbers.

This validation is performed only when submitting forms with custom fields, current data is not affected after validation is changed.

For more information on regular expressions please refer to the PHP PCRE regular expression documentation.


The following specific settings are available for the URL field type:

  • Default URL: The default URL to be used
  • Default text: Default link text to be displayed (if empty the URL will be used)
  • Open in a new window: Tick to open the URL in a new window
URL field type only. 

Add other evidence to record of learning

  1. Select My learning > Record of learning.
  2. Select the Other evidence tab.
  3. Select Add evidence.
  4. If there are Evidence types you can assign a type.
  5. Enter an Evidence link to the evidence if required.
  6. Enter the Evidence institution where you received the evidence from.
  7. Set an optional Evidence date completed.
  8. Add files to the evidence.
  9. Select Add evidence to save the evidence.

On new install of v9.0, Evidence types and Evidence link fields are not available by default but can be added as custom fields. On upgrade these fields will be pulled across and created as custom fields with any entered data being transferred.

View other evidence in the record of learning

Once you’ve created evidence you can:

  • View it
  • Edit it or delete it, or see if it is being used in any learning plans
  • Open the files that were attached by clicking the link
  • Export the list of evidence to a file

To view other evidence:

  1. Select My learning > Record of learning.
  2. Click on the Other evidence tab.

The links in the left navigation will filter to display the evidence. Selecting All learning will display all evidence. Select Completed learning to display evidence with a date completed that’s in the past. Select Active learning to display evidence with no completed date or a date in the future.

Link evidence in the learning plan

If a user has created one or more evidence items in their record of learning, they can link them to items in their learning plan. The following describes how to do this for courses. This functionality also applies for competencies, objectives, and programs.

  1. Create a new learning plan and add a course to it.
  2. On the Courses tab you should see an Evidence column with the number of evidence items linked to each course.
  3. Click on the course name.
  4. Under the Linked evidence heading select Add Linked evidence.
  5. If the user who owns the plan has any evidence items they should appear in the dialog that appears.
  6. Browse or search the list, and add one or more evidence items.
  7. Select Save to add the linked evidence on the course page.
  8. Remove evidence items again by checking the box in the Select linked evidence column then pressing Remove selected links.
  9. Click an evidence item’s name to view the evidence.

It is worth noting that:

  • A user’s evidence should be available to the user and their direct manager
  • Site administrators should be able to view any user’s evidence
  • No other users should be able to view or edit another user’s evidence
  • Evidence types are defined by an administrator and are visible to any user

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

RPL is a method of awarding a course completion to a learner who has completed an equivalent course previously. It's important to be aware this doesn't mean the learner has actually taken the course, or any of the activities within it, and this will be reflected in the Course reports and Course completion report source in Report builder

The learner will have completed the course by RPL, but will not have started the course.

Enabling RPL

RPL can be enabled for courses and course activities.

  1. Go to Site administration > Advanced features.
  2. Select Enable RPL for courses to allow courses to be marked as completed by assigning a user a Record of Prior Learning.
  3. Select one or more activities listed under Enable RPL for modules to allow course activities to be marked as completed by assigning a user a Record of Prior Learning.

Awarding RPL

For courses and activities that have completion tracking enabled: 

  1. Select Course administration > Reports > Course completion. This shows activities with completion tracking enabled and course completion.
  2. Select the RPL icon beside the learner and the activity, or the course you want to award RPL for.
  3. Add a comment to appear in the learner's Record of Learning. The comment is for information use only and isn't used to perform any actions on the Record of Learning.

When marking users as complete via RPL, the completion date and time is recorded as soon as it is saved. You are not able to retrospectively specify activity or course completion dates in the past.

If you need to specify historical course completion dates, you can do so by using the course completion upload tool. It's not currently possible to upload completion records for activities. 

Removing RPL

Once it has been added, it is only possible to remove RPL using the course completion editor

Mark course complete via a program or certification

Another option available is marking RPL completions via a program or certification a learner is assigned to. Site Administrators and users with the requisite capabilities can view a learner's required learning to access the program/certification view page, here the option to Mark complete will be available. Using this method to mark completion is done regardless of any course/activity completion criteria defined within the course.

On this page

Related pages

The Totara Academy has a whole course dedicated to using Courses and categories in Totara Learn. Here you can learn more on how to use courses and categories, see best practice, and give it a go yourself.

Provide feedback about this page using the link in the bottom right of this page. 

Still have questions? Why not post them in the forums of the Totara Community?

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