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Courses contain the activities and resources that learners will access to complete their training. A course is a single page broken into sections by topics or weeks with links to the activities and resources that the learner will access.   

Create a new Course Page

Site administrators, site managers, and course creators can create new courses as follows:

  1. Go to Site administration > Courses > Manage courses and categories.

  2. Choose the category you want you course to sit in (this can be changed later).

  3. Click the Create new course link.

  4. Complete the Course settings as described below.

  5. Click Save Changes.

Your course is now set up.

If you are given permission to set courses up at a category level, your steps differ slightly. You can:

  1. Click on Find Learning > Courses in the main menu.

  2. Click the Create course button.

  3. Complete the Course settings as described below.

  4. Click Save and display.

Your course is now set up.

Course Formats

Totara provides you with a number of options for the general format of your course. You can choose to order your course chronologically by week, conceptually by topic, or socially with a big forum as the central organising principle. The course formats options are:

Single activity format

The course will include one activity only without any sections. Choose the type of activity that you want to appear when the course is selected. This format is suitable for courses that have just one activity.

Social format

The social format is based on a single forum for the whole course,  It’s useful for less formal courses or for non-training uses such as maintaining departmental sites.

Topics format

When you create a course using the topics format, you start by choosing the number of topics you will cover. Totara creates a section for each topic. You can add content, forums, quizzes, and other activities to each topic section. If your course design is concept-oriented, and learners will be working through a range of concepts but not necessarily according to a fixed schedule, this is a good choice.

Weekly format

With this format, you specify a course start date and the number of weeks the course is to run. Totara will create a section for each week of your course, The current week is highlighted. You can add content, forums, quizzes, and so on in the section for each week. If you want all your learners to work on the same materials at the same time, this is a good format to choose.

To set the course format:

  1. Click Edit settings in the Course Administration menu.

  2. Select the course format from the drop-down list just below the course summary.
    1. For the weekly format, set the start date and the number of week.
    2. For the topic format, set the number of topics.
    3. For the social format, set the course start date. You don’t need to worry about the number of weeks or topics.

  3. Click Save and display.
Totara allows you to switch between formats if you find that a given format isn’t working for you. Simply follow the preceding instructions and select a different format. You can also add or remove topics or weeks at any time. So you don’t have to worry too much about locking yourself into a format before you really understand the system.

Course sections

Course sections are displayed in the centre of the course page.

To edit a course section

  1. Click the Turn editing on link.
  2. Click the edit icon after the section title.

If Conditional activities are enabled for the site, access to the section (including all activities and resources within it) may be restricted for learners.

The number of course sections in the centre column may be changed in the Administration block under Course administration > Edit settings or by clicking the plus or minus icons at the bottom of the course page when editing is turned on.

To move a course section

  1. Click the Turn editing on link.
  2. Click the up/down arrow or the crosshairs icon to move the section.
  3. Drag the section to where you want to position it and let go.
The ability to move course sections is controlled by the capability course:movesections, which is allowed for the default role of trainer.

To delete a course section

With the editing turned on, click Edit then Delete topic next to the course section you wish to delete. You will be prompted to confirm your wish to delete the section and its contents.

All activities inside the section and their user data will also be deleted. This operation cannot be reversed.

To link course sections

An admin setting Always link course sections can be enabled from Site administration > Appearance > Navigation so that when a course section name is clicked in the navigation block or the central content area, it will go directly to that section.

Course Settings

Course page settings control how a course behaves in terms of, for example, enrolments, availability, file upload restrictions, course name. It is the first page viewed after creating a course.

Course page settings can be edited through the Edit settings option on the Course administration menu or directly from the course categories page by clicking on the editing icon next to the course name.


Course full name

This is the name that is displayed on the top header of every page in your course and also in the course listings page. The name should be descriptive enough so learners can easily identify the course in which they are working, but it shouldn’t be too long. For example, use English400: Beowulf and not ENG400: Beowulf and the heroic poems of the ancient world.

Course short name

Enter the institutional shorthand for your course. Many learners recognise Eng101 but not Introduction to Composition. The short name also appears in the navigation bar at the top of the page.

Course category

Your Totara administrator may have set up several course categories. For example; 'IT', 'Managing People', 'Health and Safety', etc.

Course type

Select from; e-learning, blended, or seminar. This is used to help searching in the course catalog but does not control what activities are available in the course page.

Course start date

This setting determines the start of the first week for a course in weekly format. It also determines the earliest date that logs of course activities are available for. If the course is reset and the course start date changed, all dates in the course will be moved in relation to the new start date.

Course end date

You can set an end date, although this will not remove users from the course. 

Course ID numberThe course ID number is used to provide a link between Totara and your organisation's backend data systems. Most HR or training management systems have a unique identifier for each course. Totara has its own unique identifier, which will be different from the external/ HR system. This field is used by Totara to store the external system's unique ID so Totara will know which course the external system is talking about when synchronising courses and enrolments.-


Course Summary

The summary appears in the course listings page. A good one-paragraph summary will help communicate the essence of your course to your learners.

Course summary files

Course summary files, such as images, are displayed in the list of courses together with the summary in the standard catalog.

Course summary files are not displayed in the Enhanced Catalog.

Course Format


Standard layout of the course page.

Number of sections

Use this to set the number of sections your course will have. If you need to change this later, you can. Increasing the number results in sections being added to the bottom of your course page; reducing the number results in sections being removed from the bottom of your course page, and any content in them hidden.

Hidden sections

When you hide an upcoming topic section to prevent your learners from jumping ahead, you can choose to display the title as a collapsed section or simply hide the topic altogether. Displaying the collapsed sections gives your learners a road map of the upcoming topics or weeks, so it’s probably a good idea to leave this on the default setting.

Course layout

Determines whether the whole course is displayed on one page or split over several pages.

Show activity reports

This setting allows learners to view their activity history in your course. This is useful if you want learners to reflect on their level of participation.

Force language

Select the language for the course.

This ignores user language preferences.
News items to show

Use this setting to determine the number of course news items displayed on the course page.

Show gradebook to students

This setting allows you to select whether learners can see the gradebook. If set to No, it doesn’t stop instructors from recording grades, but simply prevents the learners from seeing them.

Show activity reports

Activity reports are available for each participant that show their activity in the course. As well as listings of their contributions, such as forum posts or assignment submissions, these reports also include access logs. This setting determines whether a learner can view their own activity reports via their profile page.

Maximum upload size

This setting limits the size of files you or your learners upload to the course. Your system administrator sets the maximum size for the system, but you can choose to make the limit smaller than the system maximum. You can also further limit the size of files that your learners upload as assignment submissions and for other activities.

Enable completion tracking

If enabled, activity completion conditions may be set in the activity settings and/or course completion conditions may be set.

Completion tracking begins on enrolment

As soon as user is enrolled a course completion record for the user is created. 

Mark as in Progress on first view

The course completion record for the user marked as in progress when the user views the course rather than when the first course completion criteria is met.

Course icon

Select the icon that will be displayed with the course.

Enrolled audiences

Select the audience that will be enrolled in the course.

Audience based visibility

Select who is able to see the course. If Visible to enrolled users and members of the selected audiences is selected then it will be visible to all members of the assigned audiences. Users that are enrolled will be able to see it, not matter what visibility setting is selected.



Select the group settings for the course. Note that you can allow for group settings to be overridden at the activity level.

  • No groups: There are no sub groups, everyone is part of one big community.
  • Separate groups: Each group member can only see their own group, others are invisible.
  • Visible groups: Each group member works in their own group, but can also see other groups.
Role renaming

Change the role name that is displayed - role permissions for the role remain the same.

Custom fields

Lists any custom course fields that have been created.

TagsView courses tags and create your own tags
You cannot designate a course as a meta course if you have already enroled learners. If you want to change a course into a meta course, you will need to unenrol all the learners first, then set the course as a meta course and choose the child courses from which the meta course will draw its enrolments.
Course TypeSelect the type of course from the dropdown menu.

Course icon


Course icon

Choose an icon to represent your course from the dropdown menu.

To add custom course icons

  1. Go to Site administration > Courses > Custom icons.
  2. Select the graphic file you want to use for a course.
  3. Move this file to the Course icon file area.
  4. Select Save changes.
Graphic files will be resized to 35 X 35 pixels automatically.


Default roleThe default role is assigned to everyone who enrols in your course, unless they are specifically granted another role.-
Enrolment plug-ins

Totara has a number of methods of managing course enrolments, called enrolment plugins. This setting allows you to choose an interactive enrolment plug-in, such as internal enrolment or PayPal. Your system may well use a non interactive enrolment plug-in, in which case this setting has no effect. We recommend you leave this setting as default and leave the choice of enrolment plug-ins to your system administrator. See Enrolment Plugins to learn more.

Course enrollable

This setting determines whether a user can self-enrol in your course. You can also limit enrolments to a certain date range.

Enrolment duration

This setting specifies the number of days a learner is enroled in the course, starting from the day she enrols. If set, learners are automatically unenroled after the specified time has elapsed. This setting is useful for rolling courses without a specific start or end date.


Enrolment expiry notification


If an enrolment duration has been specified, then this setting determines whether trainers receive email notification when a learner is about to be unenroled from the course.

Notify students

If an enrolment duration has been specified, then this setting determines whether learners receive email notification when they are about to be unenroled from the course.

Enrolment expiry notification threshold

If an enrolment duration has been specified, then this setting determines the number of days notice given before learners are unenroled from the course.




Use this setting to control learner access to your course. You can make a course available or unavailable to learners without affecting your own access. This is a good way to hide courses that aren’t ready for public consumption or hide them at the end of the semester while you calculate your final grades.

Enrolment key

A course enrolment key is a code each learner must enter in order to self- enrol in a course. The key prevents learners who aren’t in your class from accessing your Totara course. Create the key here and give it to your learners when you want them to enrol in your Totara course. They will need to use the key only once when they enrol.

Guest access

You can choose to allow guests to access your course, either with an enrolment key or without it. Guests can only view your course and course materials  they can’t post to the forums, take quizzes, or submit assignments.

CostIf you are using an interactive enrolment method such as PayPal, you can enter a course cost. learners will then be required to make a payment before enrolling in the course.-


Please see Tags for more information.

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