eLearning with WordPress, LearnDash and Others

The last year has brought with it major developments in WordPress e-Learning options, often referred to as an LMS (Learning Management System). Such tools were previously only available at universities, most using the popular Moodle, that needed bands of geeks to keep it up and running. Now WordPress makes LMS viable for mainstream schools and any business providing training services for any sector –  Be it for a hundred or thousands of students.

Learndash is the best of one of a half dozen superb e-learning plugins for WordPress. These low cost WordPress tools provide some incredible alternatives to other proprietary and open source options. The Learndash provides ideas and tips, telling us how this more affordable, user-friendly WordPress e-learning package is changing education. Learndash would suit those with more complex needs, wanting to grow. Their quiz tools are incredible and there are a dozen amazing third party add-ons for specific needs. It is the gold standard for WordPress LMS

There’s also Sensei LMS and TutorLMS for WordPress

But there are others… WooCommerce Sensei is another popular e-Learning plugin for WordPress that’s been available for many years, developed by WordPress themselves. The core plugin is free, paying only for additional functionality as you need it. It has a different emphasis than Learndash, providing the best woocommerce integration (US$129), plus slick reporting as standard.

TutorLMS is another we’ve come to love, likely being the simplest to manage for schools and teachers. And for the functionality provided, is amazing value at US$149. TutorLMS appears a good option for schools, boasting slick course builders, Google Classroom and other integration options not seen in other systems. However Learndash is no slug in this arena either (Ref article). But Learndash can take a little longer to configure.

Another interesting, lesser known LMS option is AccessAlly  This is primarily a membership plugin with LMS functions included. Membership tools can often be tweaked for e-Learning needs. AccessAlly is the most costly on the market, but they spend the time to pre-configure it to your needs, which makes it a good choice for many who want to avoid the setup effort and learning curve. Last but not least, there’s LifterLMS. The licensing/setup system is a bit odd, but LifterLMS have done a good job to simplify things for users with great tutorials.

All these plugins can work with most themes too, however an eLearning website should not look like a marketing website. The layout and structure needs special care to keep students engaged.

Make getting paid easier with WooCommerce

The popular WordPress WooCommerce shopping cart is also important element of any WordPress LMS, since any business selling training needs to be paid, online. And the default using Paypal is never, ever enough. The arrival of Stripe addon for Woocommerce means that setting up monthly payments and regular subscriptions is easier and less costly now. With the subscription addon you can have trial offers as well as provide vouchers to help bring in more students who would prefer to try, before they buy. Or with additional plugins, generate cart credits or vouchers, allowing say grandparents to pay for a month or full year as a surprise gift.  To replicate this in traditional tools like Moodle or other systems is hard work and extremely costly.

Can we build it ourselves? What Host to use? LMS Security?

An LMS site, like a eCommerce site is a lot more complex than a marketing website. Sometimes you will need help from those who build these complex sites for a living. We know all the tricks, often doing in a few hours or days what I’ve seen take newcomers take weeks or months. The initial problem you will find, is hosting. Don’t try to run one of these on a standard shared hosting plan or even a VPS plan from popular NZ providers. We recommend Cloudways and their Vultr servers. These start from just US$25/mth, with good upgrade paths as you grow…

And what of security? This is critical, especially once the site becomes known. Bad bots and automated hackers will start to attack your site which not only slows it down, but risks the site going offline or content being altered or user accounts disappearing. Many of the tools to prevent this need to be done at the DNS and host server level, not just relying upon those popular WordPress ‘security’ plugins.

Confused? We’re here if you get into trouble or need someone to configure the backend things, allowing you to fully focus upon the content.  To discover the opportunities from Learndash, Sensei and related mobile apps could do for your school, private tutoring or training business, just fill in the form below.

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