Review of how WordPress LMS LearnDash enables eLearning

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Online Learning Features with WordPress LearnDash LMS

If you currently have a WordPress website or seeking a feature-rich website integrated with online learning functions, WordPress and LearnDash may be the solution you are looking for.

What is WordPress? 

WordPress is a popular website builder that is an open-source platform behind 40% of the world’s websites. Throughout the years, developers have extended WordPress’ features to include different types of applications. These extensions, known as WordPress Plugins (https://wordpress.org/plugins/), provide applications for SEO, eCommerce storefronts, product catalogues, CRM, social media management, email marketing and more.

What is LearnDash?

LearnDash is a WordPress LMS plugin that provides your website with enhanced LMS (Learning Management System) features. Through the WordPress platform, LearnDash you will be able to create courses and structure your curriculum.

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Core LearnDash Features

LearnDash course creation

When creating an online course, you can structure your course curriculum using the following structure:

  • Course
    • Lesson
      • Topic

LearnDash has a course builder user interface that makes it easy to navigate and create the items in your course.

LearnDash Course Builder
LearnDash Course Builder

Each item above is a WordPress page and like any page, you have the flexibility to:

  • Create text content with images, audio. Using plugin page builders like Divi, Beaver Builder and Elementor, you can customise and design the page as you see fit.
  • Embed videos (YouTube, Vimeo) – some formats may require to install additional plugins (you can find free and paid ones) 
  • Embed HTML5 using iFrame
  • Embed PDF documents, slides, OneDrive, Google Docs (you will need additional plugins but some of them are free)
  • Embed H5P (interactive online learning authoring content that is free, all you need to do is just install the plugin)
  • Embed content authored by online learning authoring tools such as Storyline, Captivate, iSpring (you will need additional paid plugins)

Some of the things you can configure in a LearnDash online course are:

  • course access (free, paid or pre-requisite course completion conditions)
  • progression conditions (free-form or linear progression)
  • add material, assign certificates

When it comes to lessons, LearnDash offers the ability to divide them into sections. You can group several lessons into a section. This makes it easier for course creators to structure their content.

For Lessons, you can set:

  • Sample lessons
  • Lesson schedule (drip feed lessons after specific number days after course enrolment or on a specific date)

Topics are a level below Lessons. If your lesson comprises relatively large content, you can divide it up into Topics. Unlike lessons, you can’t drip feed topics and you can’t offer sample topics.

LearnDash course structure
LearnDash Course Structure

LearnDash Quizzes

LearnDash provides a Quiz Builder, allowing you to build the following type of questions in your quiz:

  • Single choice
  • Multiple choice
  • Free choice
  • Sorting choice
  • Matrix sorting choice
  • Fill in the blank
  • Assessment (survey)
  • Essay (open answer)

You can set points to be awarded for each question which you can use to measure a student’s result and set passing scores. LearnDash also offers a quiz leaderboard.
Once your quiz is built, you can associate it with a course lesson. You can also set pre-requisite quizzes (quizzes that need to be completed before one attempt the selected quiz). You can also set for certificates to be unlocked when a learner passes a quiz. Finally, you can set quiz time limits.

Learners and administrators receive email notifications when a user completes a quiz.

LearnDash Single Choice Quiz Question
LearnDash Single Choice Quiz Question
LearnDash Multiple Choice
LearnDash Quiz Question Multiple Choice Example
LearnDash Fill in the blank
LearnDash Quiz Question – Fill in the blank
LearnDash sorting matrix question
LearnDash sorting matrix question
LearnDash Essay
For LearnDash essays, you can set text box open answers or file upload.

Assignments

You can create assignments within your lessons or topics for students to upload their files.

Course Completion

LearnDash offers course completion tracking. You have a number of options for course completion. As part of LearnDash standard course features, students can mark their lessons or topics complete by clicking a button.

Using additional add-ons, you can also enable autocomplete of lessons and topics upon a student passing a quiz or activity. In future articles, we will look at how to get this implemented.

Certificates

Need to issue a certificate once a student has completed their course? LearnDash can do it. Upload your certificate image, set where you want your student’s name to appear and LearnDash will display it.

LearnDash Certificate Example
You can create LearnDash Certificates and dynamically input course or use details

User Management

LearnDash labels learners as Users. You can assign users to courses or create user groups and assign courses to these groups.

Within a group, you can assign group leaders. 

Extending LearnDash Features with 3rd Party Plugins

LearnDash focuses on Learning Management and Quizzing features. The power of LearnDash and WordPress is that you are free to use free or paid 3rd Party Plugins to extend these features. LearnDash offers free plugins to integrate with these 3rd Party features. Some of these 3rd Party plugins have in-built LearnDash integration as well.

Community, Membership and User Profile Plugins

You can tap on 3rd party WordPress plugins to build community features, create membership plans or even have a social learning network. I will touch on these add-ons in future posts.

Reporting Plugins

The standard LearnDash plugin has limited reporting features. User course data and quiz data is captured and can be exported.

If you are subscribed to the Pro or Plus LearnDash license, you can use the LearnDash ProPanel plugin to view reports on user activity and filter by course, user or group. You can also access charts that report on the course progress of your users. 

There are also 3rd Party paid plugins that extend the reporting functionality.

Embed SCORM/XAPI/HTML5 Learning Content

You can install 3rd Party plugins to embed SCORM/XAPI/HTML5 learning content such as Storyline, Captivate, iSpring.

Capture XAPI Learning Content data

If you are looking to capture and analyse learning data generated by your SCORM/XAPI learning content, you can also do this by either installing 3rd Party Reporting Plugins or integrating LRS (Learning Record Store) platforms that support LearnDash.

Payment features

LearnDash does not have a storefront and only offers integration with your PayPal account for course payment processing. If you require a storefront, you will have to install WordPress plugins like WooCommerce. 

If you require additional payment gateways,  LearnDash offers free plugins that integrate with Stripe, 2Checkout, ThriveCart and SamCart.

Additional Learning Tools

Due to the popularity of LearnDash, there are a number of developers who have created plugins to extend LearnDash’s capability. 

Gamification

Want to issue badges and points to students who complete your courses, lessons, topics or quizzes? You can gamify your learning by installing plugins like BadgeOS or Gamipress. These plugins integrate with LearnDash. 

Create Notes with LearnDash courses

Enable Learners to take notes on your site while they take your courses.

Gradebooks

Implement grades for LearnDash quizzes.

LearnDash Notifications

Send email notifications to Course Leaders based on learners actions.

Marketing Tools

If you have a MailChimp or ConvertKit account, you can integrate LearnDash with these accounts by installing 3rd party plugins.

This will allow you to leverage these services to market to your learners.

LearnDash Pricing

LearnDash prices its licenses annually. There is no free trial but they do offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
There are 3 types of licenses and the main difference between them is the number of WordPress sites you can install LearnDash as well as access to LearnDash’s reporting plugin, LearnDash ProPanel. All licesnses provide 1 year of support and updates.

Note: Prices are in USD

Basic

$199
$ 159
Annually

  • 1 site license

Plus Package

$229
$ 189
Annually

  • Up to 10 Site Licenses
  • Includes ProPanel

Pro Package

$369
$ 329
Annually

  • Up to 25 Site Licenses
  • Includes ProPanel

Other costs

There are no transaction fees. As you are using your own Paypal or Stripe accounts for payment processing, LearnDash does not charge any processing fees.

Is LearnDash the right solution?

A powerful LMS plugin that gives you flexibility and choice

LearnDash is a pretty comprehensive LMS tool. It offers advanced quizzing capabilities and because it is built on top of WordPress, you have the flexibility to extend its features to customise it and make it more powerful.

As LearnDash is popular amongst online learning WordPress website owners, there are many developers who are continuously launching new plugins that add new functionality.

With WordPress, you can also have your souped-up website coexist with your LMS.

There are costs involved with flexibility

While you have increased control and flexibility, do note that it comes at a cost. Besides the costs of LearnDash, you will also need to consider the costs of 3rd Party add-ons you wish to install.

Flexibility may result in complexity

You will not only need to be able to install and manage the LearnDash plugin, installing additional 3rd party plugins to extend LearnDash will require you to know how to configure them. This may take up time and effort and result in some complexity.

Customisation options

If you can’t find a 3rd party plugin that meets your feature requirements, you can always try to hire a WordPress developer to develop the features. As WordPress is used by many websites, it is relatively easier to find a WordPress developer compared to other LMS platforms like Moodle.

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