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Blocks are items which may be added to almost any page in Totara and can be used to add additional content to pages throughout your Totara site that are useful to users. For example, a Course completion status block may be added to a course page so that learners can quickly access and view their course progress. A Calendar block might be added to the site front page so that site users can see a list of events.
Blocks are managed by a site administrator or role with the site:manageblocks capability.
- Click Plugins > Blocks > Manage blocks on the Site administration menu.
- A list of blocks will be presented in a table providing information about each block, including additional options (where applicable):
- Name: Displays the name of the block.
Instances: Displays the total number of specific blocks created on your Totara site.
- Version: Displays the version number of the block.
- Hide/Show: Click the eye icon to hide or show a specific block.
- Protect instances: Use this option to lock a particular type of block. Once locked, no-one will be able to add or delete instances. You can, of course, unlock again if you need to edit instances. This is intended to protect blocks like Navigation and Administration which can be very hard to get back if accidentally deleted.
- Settings: Some blocks provide a Settings link so that block defaults may be configured.
- Uninstall: Select the Uninstall link to uninstall a specific block.
Uninstalling a block will completely delete everything in the database associated with the plugin, including its configuration, log records, user files managed by the plugin etc. There is no way back and Totara itself does not create any recovery backup. Uninstall it at your own risk.
You can learn about the different block settings using this interactive video within the Totara Academy:
There are a number of blocks available in Totara some of which are standalone (such as the HTML block) and some that work with other Totara content (such as the Current Learning block).
The Activities block lists and allows navigation between the different activities available in a course (Forums, Quizzes, Assignments, Lesson module etc).
|Activity results||This block displays results from graded or rated activities in a course. You can then choose to display a number of highest or lowest scores, and whether to display individuals or groups.|
This block allows an administrator to bookmark site admin pages for easy access. These include the Notifications and Add/Edit courses pages. The administrator will then see the pages as a list of links.
Note: Only site admin pages can be bookmarked i.e. pages accessed via Administration > Site administration.
The Administration block provides context-sensitive links to settings pages.
What appears in the Administration block depends upon the Context (Page being shown and user's permissions). For example, a site administrator on the front page will have Front page settings while an Editing trainer in a course will have more options in Course administration than a learner.
Displays a list of all system alerts related to logged in user.
The blog menu block provides links to:
Plus context-sensitive links for adding an entry about the course or a particular activity (if blog associations are enabled for the site and if a user has appropriate permissions).
A Blog Tags block displays a list of blogs where font size visually indicates each blog's use. The more frequently used blogs appear in a larger font size and least used in smaller fonts. This format is sometimes called a 'tag cloud'.
The Calendar block displays the following events:
The comments block can be added to any page to allow users to add comments.
The community finder block enables users to access public community hubs and search for courses to download or enrol in.
Course completion status
The course completion status block shows what has been done towards completing the course. The learner and trainer will both see this block.
The Course overview block is visible on a user's Dashboard and shows a list of all courses in which a user is enrolled/has an assigned role.
By default this block appears in the central content block on the Dashboard but can be moved to the left or right column.
The course/site summary block provides a summary and/or description for a course as contained in the summary text of the course settings.
The Courses block lists and allows navigation between all of the courses in which the logged in user is enrolled in. The block title shows as 'My courses' and allows one-click access to a course's home page.
|Current Learning||Displays a link to courses and the progress for the user's courses they are currently enrolled in and haven't completed. Warning and alert periods are able to be defined to flag when each course reaches the defined period before the course due date.|
Provide a way to create custom dashboards and assign to groups of users (audiences).
The Feedback block may be added to courses to provide a quick link to global feedback activities which have been set up from the front page.
A feedback activity on the site's front page will be displayed in Feedback blocks site-wide, or feedback can be mapped to specific courses.
The Flickr block settings allow the images that are displayed in the block to be changed based on Relevance (default), Date Posted, Date Taken, and Interestingness.
The Flickr block can only be added to a Tags page.
Links to Google Apps services for your domain.
An HTML block is a standard block used to add text, multimedia, widgets etc to a site front page or course page.
|Last course accessed||Displays a link to the last course the user accessed with the time last accessed and the course progress bar|
|Latest badges||The Latest badges block can be added to the Site front page, a user's My home page or a course page and will display badges earned.|
Recent posts made in the News forum are displayed in the Latest news block, along with a link to older archived news.
Learning plans allow staff quick and targeted access to relevant learning; including face to face events and e-learning. The learning plan enables staff to see at a glance their progress against specific learning events and the whole plan.
Logged in user
The logged in user block displays certain information about the user who is currently logged into a course.
The Login block provides logged out users an in-site area to enter their Username and Password and login, Create a new account, or retrieve/reset their password.
The main menu block can be used to add resources and activities to the front page.
The Mentees block is a front page block that provides mentors with quick access to their mentee(s) profile page(s). Mentees include all the users you have a direct assignment to, meaning that managers will see their direct reports.
The message block displays a list of new messages that have been received by the logged in user, with a link to their Messages window.
Provides a link to all courses a user is enrolled in.
The navigation block appears on every page of the site. It contains an expanding tree menu which includes Dashboard, Site Pages, and Courses. What appears in the navigation block depends on the role of the user, where they are in the site, and any settings that have been applied globally.
The Network Servers block allows users to roam to other Totara, Moodle, or Mahara servers. Works in conjunction with the Can roam to remote application via MNet permission which allows a user to roam to another site which is connected via MNet. The MNet feature allows an administrator to establish a link with another MNet enabled site, and to share some resources with the users of that other site.
The Online users block shows a list of users who have been logged into the current course. The list is updated on a regular basis (the default is every 5 minutes but this may be changed).
The People Block contains a link to the list of participants associated with a course area in various roles.
|Private files||The My private files block enables access to a user's private files area.|
|Program completions||The Program completions block lists one or more selected programs and the user's completion status for each.|
Provides quick link to Totara home, reports, and courses.
The quiz results block displays the highest and/or lowest grades achieved on a quiz within a course. There must be a quiz in the course to correctly configure this block.
Random glossary entry
The random glossary block can be used to display random entries from a glossary, which usually take the form of dictionary style definitions.
The Recent activity block lists course activity, such as updated resources and activities, forum posts and assignment submissions, since the user last accessed the course.
Recent blog entries
This block can be configured to display the last N blog entries, filtered by context. For example, if you are viewing an assignment activity, this block would display the last N blog entries that are associated with that assignment.
Provides a link to a recent course the user has been working on.
Remote RSS feeds
The RSS feeds block enables RSS feeds from external websites to be displayed within Totara. As the information on the other site (for example, news headlines or recently added documents) is changed the block will update to show the latest information.
This block can be added to pages to display the graph from a report. It can be used to build graphical dashboards.
Provides access to a list of reports to which a user has access.
|Report table||This block can be added to pages to display the tabular data from a report.|
The Search forum block allows you to search the course forums for a word or phrase. Type the word or phrase you want to find in the text field space.
The Section links block helps the learner or trainer to quickly navigate to a particular topic/week section of the course (depending on whether the course uses either the 'Topics' or 'Weekly' format. The numbered links displayed within the block are the numbers assigned to the course topic/week sections.
The self completion block provides a link for learners to declare that they have completed the course. This may be part of the Course completion requirements.
This block enables additional activities to be added to a course in social format. Note: it is not available for other course formats.
Provides statistics and information on what user's staff have been doing in Totara.
A very effective way of viewing all tags is in a tags block, or 'tag cloud'.
Tags allows learners and trainers to describe their interests in a way that is easy for people with similar interests to find them. The user's profile has a place to enter interests, which will create or add the user to an existing tag. Tag pages can be viewed and blog posts can be tagged.
Provides a list of system tasks that require action.
|Team||Displays a link to the My Team report and the number of staff the user is manager of.|
Displays any upcoming certification work a learner has been assigned.
The Upcoming events block displays future events in a summarised list. Events are generated directly from the calendar and/or activity deadlines, providing a link to full details or directly to the activity.
The YouTube block can only be added to a Tags page. This block will pull YouTube videos with the same tag words related to the current Tags page.
To add a block to the front page or a course page follow these steps:
- Select Turn editing on for the particular page.
- Select Add block in an available block region.
- Select the required block from the list.
All blocks have a set of common configurations and some blocks have settings specific to the block type.
Both the common and specific (Custom) block configurations can be accessed when editing is turned on, by clicking the cog icon ( ) and then selecting Configure [ name ] block.
Common block settings
|Block title||The title or name of the block.||The block title can be changed when the option to Override default block title has been enabled.|
|Check this option to change or remove the default block title.||A block title will only be displayed when the header is displayed.|
|Enable this option to allow individual users to hide (collapse) a block from their personal view.||Please see Hiding blocks for more information.|
|Enable this option to allow individual users to move this block to the docking area on the left-hand side of the screen.||This is a user specific display option. Please see Docking blocks for more information.|
Where this block appears
Configure the default display location and positioning for all instances of this block type.
|Original block location||This describes where the block was first displayed||This field is for information purposes only and cannot be changed.|
|Default region||Select in which region this block should, by default, be displayed.||Themes may define one or more named block regions where blocks are displayed. This setting defines which of these you want this block to appear in by default. The region may be overridden on specific pages if required.|
|Default weight||The default weight allows you to choose roughly where you want the block to appear in the chosen region, either at the top or the bottom.||The final location is calculated from all the blocks in that region (for example, only one block can actually be at the top). This value can be overridden on specific pages if required.|
On this page
|Visible||Choose whether this block will be visible to users.||Administrators and other users with sufficient access rights can see hidden blocks in a collapsed form.|
|Region||Select which block region or column this block will be added to.||A block can be subsequently moved by site administrators and users with the capability /site:manageblocks .|
|Weight||Choose the default weight or listing order for this block.||A block can be subsequently moved by site administrators and users with the capability /site:manageblocks .|
A user can choose to hide a block from their own display by selecting the Hide icon () within the header of the corresponding block. The Hide option collapses the content of the block but the block header (where shown) will still display. Blocks can be re-added by using the Show icon ().
|Individual blocks can be prevented from being hidden by users via the block configuration settings.|
A user can also choose to move a block to the Docking area by selecting the Dock icon () within the corresponding block header. A docked block can be viewed by clicking on it's title within the docking area. Blocks can be moved back to main area of the page using the Undock icon ().
|Individual blocks can be prevented from being docked by users via the block configuration settings.|
Blocks within the front page, courses or Dashboards, can be moved to other available block regions using the following steps:
- Select Turn editing on for the particular page.
- Select and hold the Move icon () within the block header.
- Drag and drop the selected block to it's new location.
If a block can be moved to a new region, it will display in preview before you confirm it's location by releasing the block.
Blocks can be removed from a page using the Delete block option within the block Action options. When editing is turned on, by clicking the cog icon ( ) and then selecting Delete [ name ] block.
The Totara Academy has a two courses that help with using block in Totara Learn, one on Dashboards and basic theming and another on Plugins and Advanced Features. There you can learn more on how to adjust your site's appearance or use plugins and advanced features, see best practice, and give it a go yourself.