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Learners can submit any digital content including; word processed documents, spreadsheets, images, audio, and video clips. Assignments don't necessarily have to consist of file uploads. Alternatively, trainers can ask learners to type directly into Totara using an online text assignment.

There is also an offline activity assignment which can be used to remind learners of real-world assignments they need to complete and to record grades in Totara for activities that don't have an online component.

Creating assignments

Anyone with editing rights on the course can create a new assignment. 

  1. Go to the course and click Turn editing on.

  2. Select Add an activity or resource and then choose Assignment

  3. Complete the assignment settings

  4. Click Save and return to course

Your assignment appears on your course page. It is also added to your course calendar and appears in the Upcoming Events block if added to your course page.

(This video above is taken from the Assignment and workshop course in the Totara Academy).

Assignment settings 

There are a number of settings you can configure when setting up or editing an assignment.




Assignment name

Give your assignment a name (which learners will see displayed on the course as their access link to the assignment).



If required, you can add a description. This might include submission instructions or marking guidelines.


Display description on course page

If you want the description to display on the course page, check the box.


Additional files

Additional files for use in the assignment, such as answer templates, may be added. Download links for the files will then be displayed on the assignment page under the description.


Allow submissions from

This stops learners from submitting before the shown date but it doesn't hide the assignment and any included instructions or materials.


Due date

Submissions are still allowed after this date but will be marked as late. Disable it by unticking the checkbox. Assignments without a due date will appear on the dashboard with No Due Date displayed.


Cut-off date

After this date, learners will not be able to submit and the submit button will disappear. If you want to grant an extension, go to the assignment grading screen, click Edit and choose Grant extension for the relevant learner.


Always show description

If disabled, the assignment description will only become visible to learner at the Allow submissions from date.


Submission types

Choose the ways you want learners to submit (you can select more than one):

  • Online text: Learners type their responses directly in Totara using a text editor (such as the Atto editor which automatically saves text at regular intervals).

  • File submissions: Learners are able to upload one or more files as their submission.


Word limit

It's possible to set a word limit on an online text assignment. Learners get a warning if they try to exceed the word limit. Numbers are counted as words, and abbreviations such as I'm or they're are counted as single words.

Only for Online text submission types.

Maximum number of uploaded files

If file submissions are enabled, each learner will be able to upload up to this number of files for their submission.

Only for File submissions submission types.

Maximum submission size

The maximum upload size refers to each file a learner uploads. It cannot be larger than the limit in the Course settings.

Only for File submissions submission types.

Accepted file types

Accepted file types can be restricted by entering a comma-separated list of mimetypes, e.g. video/MP4, audio/MP3, image/PNG, image/JPEG, or file extensions including a dot, e.g. .png, .jpg. If the field is left empty, then all file types are allowed.

Only for File submissions submission types.

Feedback types

Choose the ways you want learners to receive feedback (you can select more than one):

  • Feedback comments: With this enabled,markers can leave comments for each submission (which appear on the assignment grading screen).

  • Offline grading worksheet: The trainer will be able to download and upload a worksheet with learner grades when marking the assignments.

  • Feedback files: This allows markers to upload files with feedback when marking. These files may be the marked up learner assignments, documents with comments, a completed marking guide, or spoken audio feedback. 


Comment inline

If enabled, the submission text will be copied into the feedback comment field during grading, making it easier to comment inline (using a different colour, perhaps) or to edit the original text.


Require learners click submit button

If enabled, learners will have to click a Submit button to declare their submission as final. This allows learners to keep a draft version of the submission on the system.

If this setting is changed from No to Yes after learners have already submitted those submissions will be regarded as final.

Require that learners accept the submission statement

A Site Administrator can define a submission statement, i.e. a statement where learners promise the work is their own and which they must agree to before submitting their work. 

This may be done via Site administration > Plugins > Activity modules > Assignment (a default statement is also available). 

Attempts reopened

If Require learners to click submit is enabled, then learners may only submit once. You can change this here to Manually and reopen it for learners to resubmit, or you can change it to Automatically until pass, for the learners to keep resubmitting until they get a pass grade.


Maximum attempts

Here you can decide how many attempts to allow if learners can resubmit. If a learner has to keep trying until they get a pass grade, you might decide to limit the attempts even though they have not yet passed, or they might be trying indefinitely. 


Learners submit in groups

If enabled learners will be divided into groups based on the default set of groups or a custom grouping. A group submission will be shared among group members and all members of the group will see each others changes to the submission.


Require group to make submission

Learners not in a group can still submit assignments unless this is forced in Site administration > Plugins > Assignment > Assignment settings. Totara will then display a message, 'You're not a member of any group; please contact your trainer', and the learner will not be able to submit the assignment.


Require all group members submit

This setting will only appear if the trainer has ticked the Require learners click submit button earlier. The assignment will not be classed as submitted until all members of the group have made a contribution. When one learner has submitted, the other members of the group will be able to see who still has to submit.


Grouping for learner groups

If a particular grouping is selected here, then the gradebook will display any other groups and non-grouped learners in the default group, while naming the group(s) that are in the chosen grouping. If none is selected, then the gradebook will display the names of all groups and put any non-grouped learners in the default group. 


Notify graders about submissions

If enabled, graders (usually trainers) receive a message whenever a learner submits an assignment, early, on time and late. Message methods are configurable.


Notify graders about late submissions

If enabled, graders (usually trainers) receive a message whenever a learner submits an assignment late. Message methods are configurable.


Default setting for "Notify learners"

Set the default value for the "Notify learners" checkbox on the grading form.



The value to go into the gradebook. Choose from:

  • None: No grading

  • Point: numerical grading (you may set a Maximum grade)

  • Scale: You may select a grading scale from the dropdown menu


Grading method

Select the type of grading used for this activity. 


Grade category

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


Grade to pass

This 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.


Blind marking

In the settings, choose Blind marking. When learners submit assignments, their names will be replaced by randomly-generated participant numbers so you will not know who is who. Note that this is not totally blind marking because you can reveal their identities in the assignment settings and you can work out identities from the logs, so this might not be suitable if your establishment has very precise privacy requirements. 


Use marking workflow

If enabled, marks will go through a series of workflow stages before being released to learners. This allows for multiple rounds of marking and allows marks to be released to all learners at the same time.


Use marking allocationIf enabled together with marking workflow, markers can be allocated to particular learners.-
Common module settingsSee Common module settings for more information.-
Restrict accessSee Restrict access for more information.-
Activity completionSee Activity completion for more information.-
TagsSee Tags for more information.-

Using marking workflow

Marking workflow is useful for coordinating multiple markers, clearly state the progress of marking, and/or keeping grades and feedback hidden until you are ready to release them (otherwise grades and feedback will be released to each learner as you save them, as opposed to all at once which is possible with marking workflow). 

When using the marking workflow submissions move through the following stages:

  • Not marked: The marker has not yet started

  • In marking: The marker has started but not yet finished

  • Marking completed: The marker has finished but might need to go back for checking/corrections

  • In review: The marking is now with the trainer in charge for quality checking

  • Ready for release: The trainer in charge is satisfied with the marking but is waiting before giving learners access to the marking

  • Released: The learner can access the grades/feedback

Plugin settings

Assignments have different methods that can be used to submit and provide feedback. To change these select Site administration > Plugins > Activity modules > Assignment.




Assignment settings 

Feedback plugin

Select the plugin that will be used to add comments to the gradebook.


Show recent submissions

Enabling this lets everyone see the notifications of recent activity. 


Send submission receipt to learners

Enabling this sends a notification to learners every time they successfully submit an assignment.


Submission statement

Statement that appears to learner when they submit an assignment.


Default assignment settings

Define all of the default assignment settings.

Submission plugins

Lets the Site Administrator hide/show, reorder, and change submission plugin settings.

Online text submissions

Allows text editor to be used for submission.


File submissions

Allows multiple files to be submitted. The number of files and file size can be controlled through the plugin settings.


Submission comments

Allows learners to make comments when submitting files.

If Blind marking is enabled, learner comments display in the gradebook as from "Participant 01 etc" to avoid revealing identities.

Feedback plugins

Lets the Site Administrator hide/show, reorder, and change feedback plugin settings.

Feedback comments

Allows inline comments to be made on submissions. 


Annotate PDF

This allows stamps to be added to PDF submissions. The ghostscript application is required to be installed on the server and the path to the application included.


Offline grading worksheet

This allows a grading worksheet to be downloaded allowing marking to be done offline and uploaded.


File feedback

Allows a file to be uploaded to provide feedback on assignment submissions.


On this page

The Totara Academy has a whole course dedicated to using Assignments and workshops in Totara Learn. Here you can learn more on how to use these tools, 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?