Getting started with Totara Learn
  • 14 May 2024
  • 4 minutes to read

Getting started with Totara Learn

Article summary

If you're setting up a Totara Learn site for the first time, there are a number of tasks you'll need to complete to get your site ready for your users to start learning.

In this guide we've assumed you've already installed your site and configured the site to match your organisation's brand.

Setting up categories and courses

As a Site Administrator, you will probably want to create multiple courses on your site. These are organised into categories, which act as folders. These categories can also be used to filter content in the catalogue. You can always add extra categories at a later date and move your courses as required, but you should create all the categories you think you'll need before you start creating courses. While you can leave the creation of courses to your site's Course Creators, as a Site Administrator you can set default course settings to save them time.

A course is a page that contains all of the activities and resources for a particular set of training, including videos, SCORM packages, forums, quizzes, seminars, and more. You can change the course settings on a course-by-course basis, and determine which activity types are available to your Course Creators.

Now it's time to create your first course. When setting up each course you need to consider the following:

  • Which category does my course belong in?
  • Which course format should I use?
  • What types of activities will I include in my course?
  • Does course completion need to be tracked?
  • Do I want to divide the course into sections?

You can configure important course settings and add a title and description when you create each course. You can also edit these settings after creating the course.

Find out more about Courses and categories in the dedicated course on the Totara Academy. 

Programs and certifications

Once you have a library of courses on your website, you and your users may want to compile them into programs and certifications. These are structured learning pathways that require learners to complete sets of courses in order to demonstrate their understanding of the topic.


Programs are made up of multiple courses that learners need to complete in a specific time frame. You can set up programs so that learners have to complete content in a specific order, or allow them freedom to work through the learning materials as they see fit. You can divide courses into sets, and use the AND, THEN and OR rules in between course sets to determine how they must be completed.

Additionally, you can configure programs to notify learners about any upcoming deadlines or overdue work.

Again, while your Course Creators, Site Managers, and Editing Trainers will typically create and manage programs and certifications, you are able to set default settings.


Certifications are similar to programs in that they are pathways of related learning, but are only valid for a set amount of time. A certification may have a set expiry date (e.g. 31st December) or a relative expiry date (e.g. one year after the learner was enrolled on the certification). Once this time has elapsed, learners will need to recertify. You can configure certifications to have different pathways depending on whether learners are completing them for the first time or recertifying - you may want to allow learners to recertify by completing specific topics rather than the entire pathway.

You can also set each assignment to have a set due date or a relative due date, and you can enable extension requests if required.

Find out more about Programs and certifications in the dedicated course on the Totara Academy. 

Configure the catalogue

Many organisations will want to allow their learners to browse and complete learning that interests them, rather than just completing the learning they are assigned. In Totara Learn the catalogue allows users to see the different courses, programs and certifications available to them. Note that the catalogue will also display user-generated content, such as resources, if you're also using Totara Engage.

You can also configure your catalogue to make it easy and intuitive for learners to find learning that is relevant to their training needs and interests. The course catalogue shows all of the courses, programs and certifications available to learners. Learners can narrow down the list using the filters in the left-hand column.

Find out more about the Course catalogue in the dedicated course on the Totara Academy. 

Set up learning plan templates

Finally, you may want to set up a range of learning plan templates. Managers will then be able to use these templates to assign learning plans to their teams. Managers and learners can then work together (or only one party) to populate the plan with content and objectives for the learner to complete.

Use case: Action learning

Totara's rich feature set supports countless different approaches to learning. Watch this video from the Totara Academy to find out how Totara supports action learning.

Complete the Learning with impact course on the Totara Academy for if you want to delve deeper into this topic.

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