Totara LMS – Learning Activities and Resources

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Below is a summary of the comprehensive range of learning activities that can be configured to meet your needs in Totara LMS and combined into learning pathways.

Enables trainers to communicate tasks, collect work and provide grades and feedback.

Learners can submit any digital content (files), such as word-processed documents, spreadsheets, images, or audio and video clips. Alternatively, or in addition, the assignment may require learners to type text directly into the text editor. An assignment can also be used to remind learners of ‘real-world’ assignments e.g. practical exercises and may not require any digital content. Learners can submit work individually or as a member of a group.

When reviewing assignments, trainers can leave feedback comments and upload files, such as marked-up submissions, documents with comments or spoken audio feedback. Assignments can be graded using a numerical or custom scale or an advanced grading method such as a rubric. Final grades are recorded in the LMS gradebook.

Enables certificates to be awarded to learners who have fulfilled the requirements of the learning activity. For example, achieved 80% on an elearning activity and attended a face to face practical follow up session.

Enables participants to have text-based, real-time synchronous discussions. The chat might be a one-time activity or it might be repeated on a regular basis. Chat sessions can be saved and made available to learners as required.

Chats are especially useful when a group is not able to meet face-to-face, such as:

  • Regular meetings of learners participating in online courses to enable them to share experiences with others in the same course but in a different location.
  • A learner is temporarily unable to attend in person chatting with their trainer to catch up with work.
  • Learners out on work placement getting together to discuss their experiences with each other and their trainer.

A question and answer session with an invited speaker in a different location.

Allows trainers to create a checklist / to-do list for learners to work through.

Trainers can use the choice activity to ask a single question and offer a selection of possible responses. Choice results may be published after learners have answered, after a certain date, or not at all.

This could be used in several ways, for example:

  • As a poll to stimulate thinking about a topic, to assess learners understanding or a key topic.
  • To facilitate learner decision making about the direction of a course and what content should be included.

Database activities enable participants to create, maintain and search a collection of entries (i.e. records). The structure of the entries is defined by the trainer as a number of fields. Field types include checkbox, radio buttons, dropdown menu, text area, URL, picture and uploaded file.

Database activities have many uses, such as a collaborative collection of web links, books, book reviews, journal references etc.

External tools enable learners to interact with learning resources and activities on other web sites.

To create an external tool activity, a tool provider which supports LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) is required.

Enables trainers to set up a booking system for one or many face to face sessions. Each session can have customized settings around location, times, cost, capacity etc.

Courses can be set to require manager approval and automatic notifications can be configured to remind learners and managers.

Learners can view, sign up and track their attendance and any grades assigned.

Enables trainers to create surveys to collect feedback from learners using a variety of question types including multiple choice, yes/no or text input.

Feedback responses may be anonymous if desired, and results may be shown to all participants or restricted to trainers only.

Feedback activities may be used in several ways. For example, for course evaluations to help improve the content for future learners.

Forums enable learners to have asynchronous discussions i.e. discussions that take place over an extended period. There are several forum types to choose from and a range of rules can be set up to control discussion within the forums. Learners can subscribe to a forum to receive notifications of new forum posts.

Forums have many uses, such as:

  • A social space for learners to get to know each other.
  • For course announcements (using a news forum with forced subscription).
  • For discussing course content or reading materials.
  • For continuing online an issue raised previously in a face-to-face session.
  • For trainer-only discussions (using a hidden forum).
  • A help centre where trainers and learners can give advice.
  • A one-on-one support area for private trainer – learner communications (using a forum with separate groups and with one student per group).

For extension activities, for example ‘brain teasers’ for learners to ponder and suggest solutions to.

Glossary activities enable learners to create and maintain a list of definitions, like a dictionary, or to collect and organise resources or information.

Entries can be searched or browsed alphabetically or by category, date or author. Entries can be approved by default or require approval by a trainer before they are viewable by everyone. Glossy entries can be automatically linked to where the concept words and/or phrases appear within the course. Entries can also be rated by trainers or learners (peer evaluation). Ratings can be aggregated to form a final grade which is recorded in the course gradebook.

Glossaries have many uses, such as

  • A collaborative bank of key terms.
  • A ‘getting to know you’ space where new students add their name and personal details.
  • A ‘handy tips’ resource of best practice in a practical subject.
  • A sharing area of useful videos, images or sound files.
  • A revision resource of facts to remember.­­

The lesson activity module enables a trainer to deliver content and/or practice activities in interesting and flexible ways. A trainer can use the lesson to create a linear set of content pages or instructional activities that offer a variety of paths or options for the learner.

Trainers can choose to increase engagement and ensure understanding by including a variety of questions, such as multiple choice, matching and short answer. Depending on the learner’s choice of answer and how the trainer develops the lesson, learners may progress to the next page, be taken back to a previous page or redirected down a different path entirely.

A lesson may be graded, with the grade recorded in the gradebook.

Lessons may be used:

  • For self-directed learning of a new topic.
  • For scenarios or simulations/decision-making exercises.
  • For differentiated revision, with different sets of revision questions depending upon answers given to initial questions.

The quiz activity enables a trainer to create quizzes comprising questions of various types, including multiple choice, matching, short-answer and numerical.

The trainer can allow the quiz to be attempted multiple times, with the questions shuffled or randomly selected from the question bank.

A time limit may be set and each attempt is marked automatically, with the exception of essay questions, and the grade is recorded in the gradebook.

The trainer can choose when and if hints, feedback and correct answers are shown to students.

Quizzes may be used:

  • As course exams.
  • As mini tests for reading assignments or at the end of a topic.
  • As exam practice using questions from past exams.
  • To deliver immediate feedback about performance.
  • For self-assessment.

A SCORM package is a collection of files which are packaged according to an agreed standard for learning objects. The SCORM activity module enables SCORM or AICC packages to be uploaded as a zip file and added to a course.

Content is usually displayed over several pages, with navigation between the pages. There are various options for displaying content in a pop-up window, with a table of contents, with navigation buttons etc. SCORM activities generally include questions, with grades being recorded in the gradebook.

SCORM activities may be used:

  • For presenting multimedia content and animations.
  • As an assessment tool.

The survey activity module provides several verified survey tools that have been found useful in assessing and stimulating learning in online environments. A trainer can use these to gather data from their learners that will help them learn about their group and reflect on their own training.

Survey tools are pre-populated with questions. Trainers who wish to create their own survey should use the feedback activity.

The wiki activity module enables learners to add and edit a collection of web pages. A wiki can be collaborative, with everyone being able to edit it, or individual, where everyone has their own wiki which only they can edit.

A history of previous versions of each page in the wiki is kept, listing the edits made by each learner.

Wikis have many uses, such as:

  • For group notes or study guides.
  • For members of a department to plan a scheme of work or meeting agenda together.
  • For learners to collaboratively author an online book, creating content on a topic set by their trainer.
  • As a personal journal for notes (using an individual wiki).

Big Blue Button is an open source web conferencing system for on-line learning. Big Blue Button enables you to share documents (PDF and any office document), webcams, chat, audio and your desktop. It can also record sessions for later playback.

In addition to the above the following learning resources that can also be configured to meet your needs in Totara LMS and combined into learning pathways.

Books enable a trainer to create a multi-page resource in a book-like format, with chapters and subchapters. Books can contain media files as well as text and are useful for displaying lengthy passages of information which can be broken down into sections.

A book may be used:

  • To display reading material for individual courses.
  • As a staff departmental handbook.
  • As a showcase portfolio.

The file module enables a trainer to provide a file as a course resource. Where possible, the file will be displayed within the course interface; otherwise learners will be prompted to download it. The file may include supporting files, for example an HTML page may have embedded images or Flash objects.

A file may be used

  • To share presentations shown in courses.
  • To include a mini website as a course resource.
  • To provide draft files of so learners can edit and submit them for assessment.

The folder module enables a trainer to display a number of related files inside a single folder, reducing scrolling on the course page. A zipped folder may be uploaded and unzipped for display, or an empty folder created and files uploaded into it.

A folder may be used

  • For a series of files on one topic, for example a set of past examination papers in pdf format or a collection of image files.
  • To provide a shared uploading space for trainers on the course page (keeping the folder hidden so that only trainers can see it).

An LMS content package is a collection of files which are packaged according to an agreed standard so they can be reused in different systems. The LMS content package module enables such content packages to be uploaded as a zip file and added to a course as a resource.

Content is usually displayed over several pages, with navigation between the pages. There are various options for displaying content in a pop-up window, with a navigation menu or buttons etc.

An LMS content package may be used for presenting multimedia content and animations.

The page module enables a trainer to create a web page resource using the text editor. A page can display text, images, sound, video, web links and embedded code, such as Google maps.

Advantages of using the page module rather than the file module include the resource being more accessible (for example to users of mobile devices) and easier to update.

A page may be used:

  • To present the terms and conditions of a course or a summary of the course syllabus.
  • To embed several videos or sound files together with some explanatory text.

The URL module enables a trainer to provide a web link as a course resource. Anything that is freely available online, such as documents or images, can be linked to; the URL doesn’t have to be the home page of a website. The URL of a web page may be copied and pasted or a trainer can use the file picker and choose a link from a repository such as Flickr, YouTube or Wikimedia (depending upon which repositories are enabled for the site).

There are several display options for the URL, such as embedded or opening in a new window and advanced options for passing information, such as a student’s name, to the URL if required.

You can schedule, host, and attend WebEx meetings from within Totara LMS, then manage and view recording after meetings have taken place.

If you would like to know more about the learning activities and resources in Totara LMS can help your organisation to provide a blended learning approach, please contact us for more information.

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