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Certifications are very similar to programs, with both facilitating the creation of adaptive learning paths, where completion dependencies can be defined and the order and flow of the courses learners complete can be controlled.

However, unlike programs, certifications are only valid for a certain period of time, after which the system will prompt the learner to re-certify. This is useful for skills that need to be updated, or where a learner may need to demonstrate compliance with changing policies, practices, or regulations. 

A certification includes completion dates and time frames for enrolled learners to complete each stage of the certification. Personalised and customised messages and reminders can also be configured to be automatically sent to enrolled learners and their managers.

Learners can be enrolled on certifications based on their organisation, position, management hierarchy, individually or via an audience, with different completion criteria may be set for each group if required.

Creating a certification 

  1. Select Certifications from the Site administration menu.
  2. Select Add a new certification.
  3. Complete the Details section.
  4. Add certification Content.
  5. Add certification Assignments.
  6. Create certification Messages as required.
  7. Set the Certification period.
  8. Select Save changes.

Manage certifications page

Alternatively, site administrators, site managers and course creators can create new certifications via the Course Catalogue:

  1. Go to the Course Catalogue via Find Learning within the top navigation

  2. Select Create and choose Certification from the dropdown list.

  3. Complete the Details, ContentAssignments and Messages sections as required.

  4. Click Save Changes.

Editing a certification

Once a certification has been created it is still possible to make changes by editing the certification, although be aware that if a certification is live, any changes made will impact on the assigned learners.

  1. Go to Certifications within the Site administration menu.
  2. Select the name of the category (or sub category) in which the certification sits

  3. Select the corresponding Settings icon () for the required certification, or select the certification name to open it, then select Edit certification details.
  4. Edit the certification Details, Content, Assignments and Messages as required, as described below.
  5. Select Save changes on each page to save any edits or Cancel to disregard.

A certification can also be deleted, moved up or down the certification listing page, or moved to another category within the category certification listing using the corresponding Edit icons.

Certification category listing

Adding certification details 

The Details section includes basic information about the certification and core settings for display and availability.

SettingDescriptionNotes
Category

Select which course category the certification should sit under.

The category selected has no impact on which courses can be selected within the certification and is for site organisation and navigation purposes only.
Full name

The name or title of the certification.

This will be displayed in the certification overview area and within the Course Catalogue.
Short name

The short or abbreviated name of the certification. The display of a certification short name is limited across the site.

The short name must be unique.
ID

An optional field to provide a certification ID number.

A certification ID can be used to match external systems for data exchange purposes
Available From

Set a date from which the certification is available to learners.

This won't affect actions for users already assigned to the certificate, for example these users will still receive certificate messages.

If Available from and Available until dates are set, learners will be able to find and enter the certification during the period specified by the dates but will be prevented from accessing the certification outside of those dates.

Available UntilSet a date until which the certification is available to learnersAfter the date specified, the certification will not appear on any certification listings or be accessible, except to administrators.
Summary

The summary or certification description text is displayed in the search certification page and when a learner is viewing the details of the certification. 

This text can also be used within the Course Catalogue.
Summary files

The summary file is displayed in the list of certifications.

Summary files might include certification descriptors or relevant images files relating to the certification.
End note

The certification end note displays when the learner has completed the certification.

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VisibleWhen checked, the certification will appear in certification listings and search results, and learners will be able to view the certification contents. When unchecked the certification will not appear in certification listings or search results, but the certification will still be displayed in the learning plans of any learners who have been assigned to the certification, and learners can still access the certification if they know the certification's URL.

This option is only displayed if audience-based visibility is not enabled on the site.

Visibility

Select which group of users can see the certification in the Course Catalogue and within any list of certifications.  Choose from:

  • All users
  • No users
  • Enrolled users only, or
  • Enrolled users and members of the selected audience(s).

Please see Audiences for more information on creating audiences.

Audience-based visibility must be enabled via Advanced features for this option to to display.

Current iconChoose a certification icon from the available list.  Icons can be displayed within certification lists and within the Course Catalogue

Add new icons via Courses > Custom icons under the Site administration menu.

Graphic files will be resized to 35 x 35 pixels automatically

ImageChoose an image to associate with the certification.This image will become the background image if this certification is added as a certification tile in a Featured Link Block.  This image will also display in the Course Catalogue.
TagsAssociate tags to the certification.Tags can be added as filters or search terms within the Course Catalogue.
Allow extension requests

When enabled users can submit extension requests for this certification which can then be approved or denied by their manager. If a user has more than one job assignment with different managers, an extension request notification is sent to all of the user's managers and any of them can approve or deny the extension request.

Program/certification extension requests need to be enabled on the Advanced features page to be able to allow or disallow extension requests for a certification.


Custom fieldsAny custom fields that have been added to the site for certifications will be displayed here.Certification custom fields can be added via Programs > Custom fields from the Site administration menu.

Editing certification details

Adding certification content

The Content tab defines the courses that learners will be required to complete to gain and maintain the certification.

Certification content can include any set of courses within a Totara Learn site.

Once multiple sets have been added, set dividers are employed to create of sequences or dependencies between each set.

Certification content tab

Original certification path

When adding Original certification content to a certification, open the Content tab in the relevant certification and follow the below steps:

  1. Select Set of courses from the Add a new dropdown menu and click Add.
  2. Browse through the course categories or Search for a specific course.
  3. Click on the name of each course to be added.
  4. Selected course(s) appear in the Items to add area.
  5. Click Ok to complete the course selection or Cancel to exit.
  6. Complete the course set settings as described below.
  7. Repeat steps 1-7 to add another Set of courses.
  8. Select Save changes.

Select courses in the order they should appear in the set.

A delete icon to remove a course from the certification selection will appear on hover over.

Course sets

Once you have created a course set it is possible to re-order the courses using the up () and down () arrows. 

Setting

Description

Notes

Set nameTo provide a title or short description for the set, enter a Set name.

Set names are designed to aid the learner's understanding of the learning path. For example the first set of courses could be called 'Phase One - Induction' and the second set of courses 'Phase Two - Health & Safety'.

Learner must complete

Choose from:

  • One course: Only one course in the set needs to be completed.
  • All courses: Every course in the set must be completed.
  • Some courses: Choose a number of courses that must be completed (but not all courses)
  • All courses are optional: The user does not have to complete any courses as all are optional.

If Some courses is selected, additional fields to set the completion criteria will become editable.  These fields are the Minimum courses completedCourse score field and the Minimum score.

These fields are all locked when selecting All courses or One course as the completion of the selected courses will be the completion criteria. 

Minimum courses completed The minimum number of courses within this course set the assignees must complete for this course set to be considered complete.-
Course score fieldSpecify a course custom field which is used to allocate a score to each course in the set. This is used in conjunction with Minimum score to determine the course set's completion criteria. The selected field must have a numeric value.To create a custom course field, go to Courses and categories > Custom fields under the Site administration menu.
Minimum score

A minimum score that must be reached for the course set to be marked as complete. The score is calculated by summing the values from the Course score field for all the courses a user has completed.

The value within the Course score field must be a whole number (e.g. 1 , 10, 15 etc).

For example, a 'Credits' custom field could be added to all courses so that a course set will be marked as complete once a certain number of credits have been achieved.

Minimum time required

This value indicates a minimum amount of time that a user might realistically need to be able to complete the course set. It is used to determine if the completion period set on the assignments tab is realistic for a particular group of users. If the assignment is not realistic, a time allowance exception will be generated and the user will not be assigned to the certification until the exception has been resolved.

For example, consider a certification consisting of a single course set with a minimum time required of 10 days. If a user was assigned with completion criteria that required them to complete it in less than 10 days, then it would raise an exception report for that user.

When using completion criteria relative to a user, it is possible for some users to generate exceptions but not others. For example, when using the days since first login criteria, each user would have their own deadline that may or may not be realistic.

When multiple course sets exist in a certification the overall minimum time required for the certification is calculated based on the worst-case scenario taking into account the course set logic. For example if a certification consists of:

Course set1 [10 days] THEN Course set2 [5 days] OR Course set3 [7 days]

then the overall time allowance would be 17 days.

This minimum time value is also used to determine when the 'Course set due message' and 'Course set overdue message' should be sent.

Setting this does not mean the user only has a certain amount of time to complete a course set, nor does it set or affect the certification due date.

This does not determine the maximum time allowed to complete the course set and setting this does not set a due date.

It is used to generate exceptions when a completion date set in the Assignments tab is insufficient and is used to automatically set a sufficiently generous due date when resolving time allowance exceptions using the Set realistic time allowance action.



Courses

The courses included within a course set are displayed.  Additional courses can be added via the Add courses button and courses removed using the corresponding delete icon ()

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Example course set.

Set dividers

When adding multiple sets of courses or more than one competency to a certification, conditional dividers or access rules can be added between sets.  

Choose from:

  • Or: Learners can either complete the learning in the first course/competency set or the second course/competency set, the learning of both course/competency sets is available at the same time
  • Then: Learners must complete the first course/competency set before being given access to the second course/competency set
  • And: If both course/competency sets need to be completed

Recertification path

When adding Recertification certification content to a certification, open the Content tab in the relevant certification.

To use the same content as the Original certification path, select Use the existing certification content checkbox. This will copy everything from the Original certification path into the Recertification path.

Note that this copying only happens once; afterwards, if a change is made to one path, the same change will need to be made manually to the other path in order to keep them the same.

To use different content to the Original certification path, follow the below steps:

  1. Select Set of courses from the Add a new dropdown menu and click Add.
  2. Browse through the course categories or Search for a specific course.
  3. Click on the name of each course to be added.
  4. Selected course(s) appear in the Items to add area.
  5. Click Ok to complete the course selection or Cancel to exit.
  6. Complete the course set settings.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 to add another Set of courses.
  8. Select Save changes.
  9. A warning message containing the number of learners who are currently assigned to the certification that would be affected by changes is displayed. Click Save all changes.

Recertification content


Assigning learners

The Assignments section is used to select those learners who should complete the certification. Users can be assigned by organisation, position, audience, management hierarchy, and/or individually.

Once learners are assigned to a certification, they will be provided access to enrol in each selected course.

Certification assignments

When adding learners to a certification, open the Assignments tab in the relevant certification and follow the below steps:

If

Then

Notes
Adding learners by organisation
  1. Select Organisations from the Add a new dropdown menu and click Add.
  2. Click the Add organisations to program button.
  3. Select the required organisational framework from the dropdown box.
  4. Browse through the organisations or Search for a specific organisation.
  5. Click on the name of each organisation to be added
  6. The selected organisations(s) appear under the Items to add area.
  7. Click Ok to complete the organisation selection or Cancel to exit.
  8. Select All below to include all users in the hierarchy structure below the selected organisation
  9. Enter an Assignment due date as described below.
  10. Repeat steps 1-9 to add another organisation(s).
  11. Select Save changes.

A delete icon to remove an organisation from the selection will appear on hover over.

Organisations from different frameworks can be selected.

Adding organisational assignments to a program

Organisations selected in program assignments

Adding learners by position
  1. Select Positions from the Add a new dropdown menu and click Add.
  2. Click the Add position to program button.
  3. Select the required positional framework from the dropdown box.
  4. Browse through the positions or Search for a specific position.
  5. Click on the name of each organisation to be added
  6. The selected position(s) appear under the Items to add area.
  7. Click Ok to complete the position selection or Cancel to exit.
  8. Select All below to include all users in the hierarchy structure below the selected position
  9. Enter an Assignment due date as described below.
  10. Repeat steps 1-9 to add another position(s).
  11. Select Save changes.

A delete icon to remove a position from the selection will appear on hover over.

Positions from different frameworks can be selected.

Adding positions to program assignments

Assigning due dates to position assignments


Adding learners by audience
  1. Select Audiences from the Add a new dropdown menu and click Add.
  2. Click the Add audiences to program button.
  3. Browse through the audiences or Search for a specific audience.
  4. Click on the name of each audience to be added
  5. The selected audience(s) appear under the Items to add area.
  6. Click Ok to complete the audience selection or Cancel to exit.
  7. Enter an Assignment due date as described below.
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 to add another position(s).
  9. Select Save changes.

To learn more about creating audiences, please see Audiences.

A delete icon to remove an audience from the selection will appear on hover over.

Adding audience assignment to a program

Audience assignment in a program

Adding learners by management hierarchy
  1. Select Management hierarchy from the Add a new dropdown menu and click Add.
  2. Click the Add managers to program button.
  3. Browse through the user list or Search for a specific manager.
  4. Click on the manager name(s) then choose the appropriate job assignment(s) applicable to the certification assignment.
  5. The selected manager(s) and their job assignment(s) will appear in the Items to add area.
  6. Click Ok to complete the manager selection or Cancel to exit.
  7. Under the For column, select direct team to add the manager’s direct reports or all below to add both thier direct and indirect reports.
  8. Enter an Assignment due date as described below.
  9. Repeat steps 1-8 to add another position(s).
  10. Select Save changes.

Please see Job Assignments for more information.

A delete icon to remove a manager from the selection will appear on hover over.

Assigning managers to a program


Set direct and indirect reports for manager assignment in a program


Adding individual learners
  1. Select Individuals from the Add a new dropdown menu and click Add.
  2. Click the Add individuals to program button.
  3. Browse through the user list or Search for a specific individual.
  4. Click on the name of each individual to be added.
  5. The selected individuals(s) appear under the Items to add area.
  6. Click Ok to complete the selection of individuals or Cancel to exit.
  7. Enter an Assignment due date as described below.
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 to add another position(s).
  9. Select Save changes.
A delete icon to remove an individual from the selection will appear on hover over.

Adding individual assignments to a program

Individuals added to the program


Assignment due date

The due date for users enrolled in the certification via any of the assignment types, must be set using a fixed completion date or using a time relative to one of the following events:

  • First login: Relative to the users first log in to the system.
  • Position assigned date: Relative to the time a position was assigned to any of the users job assignments with the specified position

  • Job assignment start date: Relative to the start date field of any of the users job assignments with the specified position

  • Program completion: Relative to the time another specified program or certification was completed by the user

  • Course completion: Relative to the time a specified course was completed by the user

  • Profile field date: Relative to the value of a date/time custom field in the users profile

  • Program enrolment date: Relative to the time a user was enrolled in this certification

Completion date for certifications


An Assignment due date will be assigned to other users as they join the group. The actual due date cannot be changed if the user has already completed the certification. 

Users' actual due dates may differ from the assignment due date for various reasons, including:

  • If another assignment type includes the same user, the other assignment due date may override this one
  • If this assignment has a relative due date, which is not yet applicable to the user
  • A user may have been granted an extension by a manager
  • If an exception occurred and the Set realistic time allowance action was used to resolve it
  • This assignment due date may have changed, but the user still has the due date that was originally given to them
  • This is a certification, and the due date has automatically been set to the expiration date

Note that assignment due dates are recorded when after the Save changes button is selected, but are not applied until the user assignments are updated. If a message indicating that user assignments have been deferred is displayed, then any user due date changes will not yet be applied.

Prior to saving changes, it is important that consideration is given to assigning a completion date relative to a user's due date.

Please see Certifications for more information.

Learning will be made available immediately to new users once they've self-registered.

Audience membership as well as audience-based enrolled learning (i.e. course enrolment and certification/program assignment) will occur before new users first log into the platform.

For existing users, audience membership and enrolment when the certification user assignment scheduled task is run.

Once saved, a confirmation message appears at the top of the screen.

Confirmation of certification assignments

Actual due date

After using the Assignment due date option to assign a due date to the group of users and saving all changes, the Actual due date column will display a link to view the specific due date for all users enrolled in the certification using the corresponding assignment type. 

Due dates for assigned users can been extended only.

If a fixed due date is set, the date change will be applied immediately.

If a relative due date is set, the due date will be applied to the users as soon as it can be successfully determined.

For assigned users that have been given a time exception, the certification due date is not updated.


Relative and set completion dates for program assignments

Creating certification messages

Customised, automated messages can be created and emailed to all users assigned to a certification. An optional message for the managers of each assigned learner can also be added, depending on the message type selected.

When adding messages to a certification, open the Messages tab in the relevant certification and follow the below steps:

  1. Select the required message type from the Add a new drop down menu and choose Add.
  2. If relevant, set a time based Trigger for the message being sent
  3. Add a Subject line and Message body, using variables as required.
  4. Select Send notice to manager to send a message to the manager of a learner at the same time the learner message is sent. If a learner has multiple job assignments with more than one manager, the message will be sent to all managers.
  5. Add a Subject line and Message body for the manager notice, using variables as required
  6. Select Save changes to save the message(s).

If a subject is not provided i.e. the field is left blank, the manager subject is populated with the default language strings for each message type.

The Enrolment message and Exceptions report message is added by default for every certification.

The subject of the message will be displayed to recipients within their Dashboard.

Certification message types


Message types

Message name

Description

Enrolment messageA message is sent to the learner when they are assigned to a certification.
Exceptions reportA message is sent to site administrators when there are new exceptions on the certification. An exception occurs when the system is not able to process an action related to the certification, e.g. the completion date is set for 30 days from the position start date, but this field is empty for a user assigned to the certification.
Un-enrolment

A message is sent to a learner if they are unenrolled from a certification.

Program due
A message is sent to the learner a set number of days, weeks or months before the learner is due to complete the certification.
Program overdueA message is sent to the learner when the certification completion date for the learner has passed.
Program completedA message is sent to the learner when they complete the certification.
Course set due

Sent a certain length of time before the current course set is due. The due date is calculated by adding the course set Minimum time required to the date the user started the course set.

Course set overdueSent a certain length of time after the current course set is due. The due date is calculated by adding the course set Minimum time required to the date the user started the course set.
Course set completedThis message will be sent whenever a course set is completed.
Learner follow-up

A message is sent to a learner a set period of time after they have completed the certification.

Recertification window open
Sent when the learner has entered the period when they can recertify.
Recertification window due to closeSent when a recertification period is about to expire.
Failure to recertify messageSent when a recertification period has expired and the learner will need to repeat the original certification.

Variable substitution

Variables can be inserted into the Subject and/or body of a Message so that they will be replaced with personalised or the relevant values when the message is sent. Variables should be inserted exactly as shown.

VariableDescription
%userfullname%Replaced by the recipient's full name.
%username%Replaced by the recipient's username.
%programfullname%Replaced with the full name of the certification.
%completioncriteria%Replaced by the completion criteria set in the Assignments tab.
%duedate%Replaced by the date assigned to the user to complete the certification.
%managername%Replaced by the learner's manager's name. If a learner has multiple job assignments with more than one manager, a list of all manager names will be generated, separated by commas.
%manageremail%Replaced by the learner's manager's email address. If a learner has multiple job assignments with more than one manager, a list of all the manager email addresses will be generated, separated by commas.
%setlabel%Replaced with the course or competency set label or name.


Setting recertification details 

The Certification section defines how long a certification is considered active and when a learner must complete their recertification.

Recertification date

This setting determines how the expiry date is calculated when a user completes the certification or recertifies.  Choose from:

SettingDescriptionNotes

Use certification completion date

When a user completes one of the certification paths (original or recertification), the expiry date will be calculated based on the date that the completion occurred.  The active period is added to the completion date.Over the span of several recertifications, this option can cause the expiry date to drift backwards (when completed early) and forwards (when completed overdue).

Use certification expiry date

Calculate the new expiry date based on the previous one. The first time this is calculated, it adds the active period to the assignment due date if there is one, otherwise it uses the date the certification was completed.

If the user is overdue or expired, it adds the active period to the date the primary certification was just completed (as if the user was newly assigned), so that certifications are active for a minimum of the active period.

Over the span of several recertifications, this option can cause the expiry date to drift forwards (when completed overdue) but not backwards.
Use fixed expiry date

This option causes the expiry time to be calculated based on the specified assignment due date (if available, otherwise the first completion date), and subsequent completion expiry dates will be calculated using that same base date, regardless of whether they are late or early.

The active period is repeatedly added to the base date until the first future date is discovered. The Minimum active period is available only with this setting, and must be at least as big as the Recertification Window (see the Minimum active period help for more information).

Over the span of several recertifications, this option will prevent the expiry date from drifting forwards or backwards.

Active Period

Determines how long a certification, once complete, will be active or valid before it expires.

SettingDescriptionNotes
Certification is active forEnter a numerical value in the field and select Day(s), Week(s), Month(s) or Year(s).-
Minimum active period

When Use fixed expiry date is set, this option specifies the minimum length of time that the certification will be guaranteed to be active. If a user completes their certification and there is less than this amount of time until it would be due to expire, the expiry date is pushed forward by another whole active period

For example:

  • Erik is assigned to the Coding and Integration Standards certification in July with an assigned due date of 1 December. He completes his certification in August so his certification status will be set to expire on 1 December of the following year. This will make his actual active period about 16 months (12 months active certification plus the four months between August and December).
  • Amal is enrolled in the same certification and completes her recertification in November while the two-month window is open.  Her certification would therefore be set to expire on 1 December of the following year, making her actual active period around 13 months (12 months active certification plus one month into the recertification window).
  • Taylor is enrolled in the same certification, and fails to recertify by 1 December. They subsequently complete the primary certification in April. Their certification would be set to expire on 1 December of the same year, meaning the active period is only around eight months.

Editing recertification details.

Recertification window

Specifies the period before the certification expires that a learner can start recertifying. When the window opens, data and activity completion for all recertification pathway courses will be reset, including courses and activities completed by RPL.

Primary certification path courses will be reset only on expiry, and only if they are not also on the recertification path. 

Set the Period window opens before expiration by entering a value in the field and selecting either Day(s), Week(s), Month(s), or Year(s) from the dropdown.

Click Save changes before navigating away from the page.

Certification and recertification settings

Tracking and editing certification completion

The Program Completion Editor must be enabled via Advanced Features via the Site administration menu for the Completion tab to appear within a certification.

Please see the dedicated Certification Completion Editor help documentation page for more information.

Setting a default image for all certifications

Each certification within Totara Learn can be represented within the Course Catalogue by a custom image as set within the certification Details.  A default image, for those certifications without a custom image, can be set at the site level by following the below steps:

  1. Select Certifications from the Site administration menu.
  2. Click on the Set default image for all certifications link.
  3. Drag and drop or upload an image in the Default image field.
  4. Select Save changes.

Certification list page with default image link

Assigning users to multiple certifications which contain some matching course content

This scenario is not recommended when managing certifications due to the potential this creates for users needing to re-complete the course that is contained in both certifications.

Where two or more certifications contain some matching course content, assigning a user to one certification and then adding the same user to another different certification will result in an Exception being created for this user.  For more information please see Exception Reports.

These exceptions shouldn't be ignored/dismissed as they are a warning that user's with these exceptions may have course progress reset and may need to repeat the courses contained within more than one certification they are assigned to.

Assigning a user to multiple certifications which all have the same courses creates a likelihood for the overlapping of window opening dates and the archiving of course completions on certifications which are already in progress.

Certification editing capabilities

It is possible to assign a variety of editing permissions within the certification functionality. Any user with one or more of the following capabilities will see an Edit certifications details button whenever they view a certification.

By clicking on this they will then see the Overview tab, followed by additional tabs based on the capabilities they have assigned to them as follows:

  • totara/certification:configuredetails: For the Details
  • totara/certification:configurecontent: For the Content tab.
  • totara/certification:configuremessages: For the Messages tab.
  • totara/certification:configureassignments: For the Assignments tab.
  • totara/program:handleexceptions: For the Exceptions tab (this applies even if there are no exceptions currently).
  • totara/program:editcompletion: For the Completion tab
  • totara/certification:configurecertification: For the Certification tab.
On this page


The Totara Academy has a whole course dedicated to using Programs and certifications in Totara Learn. Here you can learn more on how to use programs and certifications, 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?