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How to manage recurring courses in Moodle and Totara Learn

2 min reading time

For many organisations there is a need for learners to retake courses annually. Examples of such recurring courses that I came across recently are Data Protection, Safeguarding and Health and Safety courses.

In this post, we're going to look at how courses can be repeated annually in Moodle and also to give an insight into how they can be handled in Totara Learn.

MoodleHow can I manage recurring courses annually in Moodle?

Dealing with these recurring courses can be done in a number of ways in Moodle and whatever option is chosen, it's always reliant on the administrator doing manual work. One way to manage recurring courses could be like this:

Step 1 – Enrol your learners in the course and monitor progress.

Step 2 – At the end of a specified time period, hide the course so learners can no longer access it.

Step 3 – You may wish to take an export of the results either from the gradebook or individual activities such as SCORM / quiz activities so that these are available on file for future reference.

If you save the results from individual activities, the date attempts that were made could help you schedule and inform users when they should retake the assessment.

Step 4 - Make a backup the course with all users to maintain all user data.

Manage recurring courses

Step 5 - Restore the course somewhere on the site, for example in a hidden category, disabling the enrolment method so that it is available for audit purposes but users cannot access the course if the category was ever made visible. You will have to change the short name of the course so I would recommend adding in the period the course was live and perhaps an indication that it is has been archived.

Step 6 – Reset the course by going into Course administration > Reset. Clear all data, including completion data, quiz attempts, forum posts, etc. If there is a course glossary, do not include these as all the terms will be deleted. Also, do not remove the roles leaving the current learners still enrolled in the course.

Manage recurring courses

While there are variants of this process, they invariably include backup and restore, creating other courses or resetting the course like above. For busy administrators of large sites, this can prove quite time consuming. It's for tasks like this that Totara Learn was created.

Totara LearnHow can I manage recurring courses annually in Totara Learn?

In Totara Learn, you can create Certifications which, when setup, can automatically do all this for you.

Certifications are sets of courses (1 or more) that are repeated by learners at specific intervals - for example, annually. After receiving system notifications that they must do a certification, users will see the required courses in the list in their required learning. If this is not the first time they have completed the courses then it may be that the certification is set up so that learners do not have to complete overview courses, but instead just have to attempt the assessments associated with these courses.

Once learners have completed the certificate they get credited with its completion and they (and their manager) will receive a personalised email confirming this. A year later they will receive an email informing them that they need to retake the course. And all this without a backup in sight!


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