If you need to set up an e-learning environment or learning management system (LMS) to deliver online courses then WordPress could well be the perfect platform for your project.
Whether you want to build a website that solely focuses on delivering learning content, or you want to add an online course to an existing WordPress website, the e-learning tools we will be looking at in this post will allow you to do so with relative ease.
Frist you will get an overview of the three main options for turning WordPress into an LMS. Then we will take a look at some suitable themes you can use to transform the look and feel of your website in order to better suit your learning content.
WordPress E-learning and Learning Management System Plugins
There are three main LMS plugins that will add the necessary features to your WordPress website to turn it into an e-learning platform. While they are all premium plugins, the amount of features and the level of support you get from them and their developers should make their costs easy to justify for most projects.
The fact that they can be integrated with a number of ecommerce and membership plugins means that if you are creating premium courses, it will be easy to monetize and manage access to your learning content.
WP Courseware is billed by its developers as an easy to use WordPress Learning Management System.
It certainly is packed with features and should have everything you need to create an online course with WordPress without having to make any compromises. Once the plugin has been activated on your site, you can then start creating an unlimited number of courses, each with an unlimited number of modules. The modules themselves can contain an unlimited number of lessons.
If you are building a large online course, or expect the size of your offering to grow rapidly, then WP Courseware will definitely scale as required.
When creating the lessons for your courses, you can make use of quizzes and multimedia lessons. Completion certificates can be automatically awarded to participants; while the survey tool will help you to get feedback from your students, letting you know how they felt about your course.
When it comes to creating the quizzes, you get plenty of options and features to help you create the right type for your project. This includes the ability to show or hide quiz answers, set timed quizzes, create a question pool, and download quiz results for external use.
The quiz types on offer include multiple choice, true or false, open ended questions, and the ability to upload a file to submit an answer. The latter being a great option for requesting coursework from students.
Another useful feature of this WordPress LMS plugin is that it makes it easy to import and export courses between other websites using WP Courseware.
Student management hasn’t been overlooked either and this e-learning plugin allows you to bulk enrol students on to courses, track grades via the grade book, and export the grades held in the system. Students and instructors can also receive notifications if necessary.
It’s not surprising to learn that this plugin has been adopted by a number of high profile organizations as their platform of choice for delivering their online learning content. This includes such notable brands as CNN, Sheraton, Verizon Wireless, and a number of universities.
WP Courseware also integrates with a whole host of other WordPress plugins, including the iThemes Exchange ecommerce plugin, MemberPress, PaidMembershipsPro, and many of the other top membership plugins for WordPress.
These integrations make it very easy to setup a premium course, allowing you to monetize your learning content and control access to it.
WP Courseware Pricing
When it comes to pricing, there are three plans to choose from:
- 2 Site License: $99.00
- 10 Site License: $125.00
- 25 Site License: $175.00
As you can see, if you are creating multiple online courses, each with their own site, the savings can be considerable. However, even if you are just building one course, the price of the entry level two site license is still competitive for the amount of features you are getting access to.
WP Courseware is one of the most well-regarded learning management systems plugin for WordPress. The good amount of features and speed with which you can create a course with it has helped it become the go-to e-learning solution for many people delivering courses online.
As you can integrate WP Courseware with a number of other plugins, including ecommerce and membership plugins, protecting and monetizing your course content isn’t a problem.
The LearnDash LMS plugin aims to make it as straightforward as possible to create your first course and start delivering your learning content online.
The LearnDash hierarchical structure breaks down as courses, lessons, and lesson topics. You can create an unlimited number of the three levels to create exactly the type of course you need to build.
Courses can have pre-requisites, such as completing another course on your site, and your lessons can include quizzes, each with their own individual passing scores. The quiz types include multiple choice, free text, sorting, fill in the blank, and others. The quizzes can be timed and students who manage to progress are automatically awarded downloadable certificates.
To control the rate as which students pass through a course, it’s possible to drip-feed lesson content at a pre-defined schedule of your creation.
There are a number of reporting tools available to instructors and administrators of LearnDash-powered e-learning websites. These allow you to run reports on user activity and also record and manage all the users who have registered on a course. Users can also be mass-enrolled as necessary.
As your LMS platform will rarely stand alone, it’s important that your plugin of choice supports a range of integrations with other tools and system.
LearnDash doesn’t disappoint in this department, and integrates with some well-known and useful tools:
- Easy Digital Downloads: sell courses individually or as a package
- BadgeOS: award custom badges for achievements
- PaidMembershipsPro: use memberships features to manage access to courses
- 2CheckOut: accept payment for courses using 2CheckOut as well as PayPal
- KB Gradebook: report grades securely
- Gravity Forms: create unique registration forms for courses with auto-enrolment
- Experience API (Tin Can API): communicate with other learning systems
As you can see LearnDash has been built to work with a number of third-party services to help you build the platform you need.
LearnDash is being used by some well-known names to delivery their online courses, including WP Elevation, USA Rugby, and a number of education institutions and universities.
The LearnDash LMS plugin for WordPress is available on two pricing plans, both of which are discounted at the time of writing:
- LearnDash: $79
- LearnDash + ProPanel: $99
Both options are a one-time payment and can be used on an unlimited number of sites. The ProPanel plugin gives your website’s WordPress admin dashboard an overhaul to make it more user friendly to those managing an e-learning platform.
LearnDash has all the features you would expect from a plugin of this type. The large number of supported integrations will be of real benefit to those who want to expand the functionality of their WordPress-powered LMS system and have the ability sell and manage access to their courses with lots of flexibility.
Sensei is a learning management system for WordPress from the WooThemes team. The plugin has all the features you need to get a course up and running on your website.
With Sensei you can create courses, write lessons, and set quizzes for your students. Both courses and lessons can have pre-requisites to help you to manage student progression through your learning content. You also have the option of adding modules to the course structure by installing a free add-on.
To help manage your students and teachers, the Sensei creates two new user roles on your WordPress website: learners and teachers. These roles then have all the necessary access to the features of Sensei for them to perform their learning related duties. Like regular WordPress roles these two can be adjusted to give them more or less authority and access on your site.
If you want to sell any of the courses you create with Sensei, then you can easily do so by integrating it with the WooCommerce online store builder plugin, which is also from WooThemes.
If you need to create tiered levels of access for your participants, you can integrate Sensei with the free Groups plugin.
There is also a number of extensions available for Sensei which allow you to add extra features to your WordPress LMS. These extensions include:
- Certificates: award certificates of completion
- Modules: add modules to the course structure
- Course Progress: display how far through a course a participant is
- Course Participants: display to non-participants how many participants a course has
- Share Your Grade: let participants share their grades and feedback on the social networks
- BadgeOS: award badges with BadgeOS integration
Sensei is a premium plugin and is available on three pricing plans:
- Single site usage: $129
- Up to 5 sites: $179
- Up to 25 sites: $279
Each license entitles you to one year of updates and support and you must enter a valid license key for each installation in order to receive updates and support for that site.
There is a lot to Sensei and you can get a deeper understanding of how each of the tools and features that make up Sensei work by browsing the plugin online documentation pages.
However, needless to say it has a competitive set of features and the extensions available for it, while currently small in number, mean that is an LMS plugin that has the potential to only get more and more useful as time goes by.
As this plugin has been developed by WooThemes, a company with a background in producing WordPress themes, they have created a number of Sensei themes for your site if you choose to use this plugin.
WordPress LMS Themes
While the above e-learning plugins are compatible with any WordPress theme, there are a number of templates that have been built especially for those offering courses and learning content online.
While DW Kido might not have made precisely for use on a website offering e-learning content, its clean and modern design makes it a great choice for anyone who wants to ensure their course content doesn’t get obscured by an overbearing design and feature set. Don’t forget to check out the other themes from DesignWall for a suitable template for your site.
Definition has been created by the WooThemes team so you can be sure it will work seamlessly with their Sensei LMS plugin. However, even if you are using another e-learning plugin, the design and features of this theme make it a suitable choice.
The aptly named LMS theme has clearly been built for developing an online learning platform with WordPress. The theme is packed with features and has the visual appeal to deliver your courses and modules in style.
So there you have it, three LMS plugins and three suitable themes for building an e-learning website with WordPress. While there are only really three main players in the LMS plugin market, there are countless themes that can be used to help you offer and deliver your learning content in the best possible way.
If you have any questions about building an LMS with WordPress or adding an online course to your website, please leave a comment below.