Totara LMS Features and Updates
Review recent Totara Learn updates
Totara Learn LMS provides organizations with a highly functional and flexible digital learning solution through open-source technology. Totara updates existing modules and adds new features to facilitate better learning outcomes. This allows expert eLearning vendors like eThink to customize the LMS to meet the specific learning goals of organizations.
Table of Contents
- Totara Learn 12 - Navigation elements, Audience improvements, HR import improvements
Have questions about these updates? Get in touch with the experts at eThink!
Totara Learn 12 offers several new features to make it easier to use right out of the gate. In each of the sections below, we will briefly look at the nature of the change, what that change looks like and how it might affect users.
While this is not an exhaustive list of the improvements in this version, it goes over the essential changes related to:
- Navigation (specifically to the Course Catalog, Top Navigation, and Blocks)
- Audiences (including new audience rules and the ability to restrict report content by audience)
- HR Import (improvements to the default settings and the addition of a competency element)
The course catalog available under the Find Learning menu item has undergone several improvements. The display of this page is highly configurable, with the ability to filter out the types of learning that can be displayed and also how each learning opportunity is presented. Additionally, featured courses can be flagged to display above all other courses. Course content can also be added using the Content Marketplace which easily connects to several content providers including GO1.
The graphic below indicates the general look and feel of the new Course Catalog. Keep in mind that it is highly configurable with the ability to add icons, filters, information about the learning, and much more.
As a Certified Totara Partner, this feature provides a myriad of possibilities to present to our clients regarding the ways they can present learning to their employees or customers.
Top Navigation (formally Main menu)
The top banner of Totara now contains all that you will need when navigating the site. Additionally, the customizable top menu now allows for a third level of navigation. All of the navigation options are now located in the top navigation bar in the Basis theme, including the:
- Company Logo
- Top Menu
- Messages and Alert Icons
- User Menu
Furthermore, the main menu is customizable as always; however, you can now drill down to three levels instead of two levels. The following graphic shows the setup menu demonstrating that menu items can now be nested three deep.
The Add menu item looks a bit different as well with the addition of the menu “Type” field added. The Parent type menu is strictly there to house other items and cannot be linked.
This more complete navigation bar makes it a bit easier for users to find what they’re looking for. Also, the expansion of the menu choices makes it easier for administrators to set up the top menu navigation and could help with preserving real estate on the front page.
Adding Blocks and Adjusting Block Appearance
There have been three basic improvements to the way blocks work in Totara Learn 12 including:
- The regions to which blocks can be added has expanded to the full-width header and footer regions along with a central region on the site front page.
- Adding blocks has now become easier with the Add icon available anywhere blocks can be added.
- Blocks can be set to display without a header and border and also be renamed from their original title.
Turning editing on from the Totara Learn 12 front page presents a bit of a different look than administrators might be used to. All of the places with outlines and a plus icon represents the places that you can add a block directly.
Additionally, new configuration options are available to create custom block titles, allow for the hiding and docking of blocks, and choosing whether to show block headers and borders.
This change means that admins will have much greater flexibility in designing the look and feel of their sites. It is also much easier to put blocks where they go the first time without having to take the extra step to move them.
One of the most useful features of Totara is the ability to create dynamic audiences which can then be used to enroll learners in courses, certifications, programs, etc. Here are some ways to manage the audiences once they’ve been enrolled…
New Audience Rules
First, there are two new audience rules that can help the way users are sorted: Certification-based rules and Authentication-method rules. When adding a rule set to a dynamic audience, notice that there are additions to the choices for rules. Rules can be based on Certification status, Certification completion date, and Authentication type.
It is always good to have the methods for determining audiences expanded. If an organization wants to put users through a series of certifications, this is a good way to make sure they complete them in order. Also, if an organization has more than one authentication type for different types of users, such as a SSO for external clients and Manual accounts for internal users, they can be divided up pretty easily based on this criteria.
Restrict Report Content By Audience
In addition to new ways of getting users into audiences, there is now a new way to use those audiences to enhance the already extensive reporting function in Totara Learn. Previously, users had the option to restrict the content of the report by various criteria (depending on the source of the report). Totara Learn 12 has added the ability to restrict that content based on the audience of the user.
To access this feature, go to the Content tab in the report builder. For the user report, easily restrict content by audience in addition to positions, organization, and users.
With this one addition, Totara Learn 12 greatly expands the type of filtering that can be done with reports. Since audiences is already the most flexible way to group users in Totara, the sky really is the limit with this new change!
HR Import Improvements
Default Settings and the Addition of a Competency Element
Totara Learn 12 brought two major improvements to HR Import functionality. First, “General” settings changed to “Default” settings. This change is not only semantic; the default settings can also be applied to each of the HR Import elements. Second, in addition to being able to upload Users, Job assignments, Positions, and Organizations, Totara Learn 12 now supports uploading Competency Hierarchies as well.
As seen from the Job assignment element settings below, each element can either use default settings or be changed.
The improvements to how the default settings now work in HR Import provides flexibility to the import process. Perhaps in a particular organization, users and job assignments update daily while position hierarchies only need to be updated weekly. Totara Learn 12 makes it easy to set the appropriate update schedules to prevent error messages in the logs.
Furthermore, each element now has the flexibility to have a different type of source. For example, a company might want to connect directly to the database to import users, but for organization hierarchies, a file upload would suffice.
To Wrap It Up…
eThink is excited to introduce these new features and enhancements of Totara Learn to our clients. If you want to learn more, check out the recording below of our What’s New in Totara Learn 12 webinar!