- Video Lessons Manager by CreativeMinds
- Sensei LMS by Automattic
- LearnPress by ThimPress
With the focus on remote learning during the time of the pandemic, producing content online has become a major focus for many teachers, parents, schools, and businesses. WordPress has a number eLearning plugins that can be used to track, present, and create educational courses on a website. These solutions range from being only course creator applications to full blown learning management systems (LMS) that can provide free or paid educational material. This article will present five of the best plugins that you can use with your WordPress installation.
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A fairly popular way of presenting learning material is to use videos. The Video Lessons Manager from CreativeMinds is an excellent way to rapidly build courses. You can have several separate videos that make up a course and, with add-ons, include quizzes, certificates of completion, and a payment manager for courses that are not free. Videos can be added from Vimeo or Wistia. With the add-ons, the Video Lessons Manager becomes a full-fledged learning management system. the initial plugin that can be downloaded from the WordPress.org Plugins page is free, but in order to use many of the features, you would need to upgrade to the pro version. The free version allows users to manage video content and check on course progress. The pro version includes support for student tracking, notes, bookmarks, payment systems, and digital downloads – to name a few of the many options. Courses that are paid can be locked and not made accessible until payment is made. There is a demo page available for the product and a mountain of online documentation. Live support is also available and helpful. The main advantage of this solution is its ease of use and versatility with the added plugins and integrations. If you are seeking a free solution, then you may be disappointed to find that most of these eLearning applications are not free when you start seeking the functionality of any typical learning management system. To make the most of this solution, it is best to upgrade to the pro version.
Sensei LMS is a plugin that works in conjunction with WooCommerce. It is an Automattic product and a part of the WooCommerce family. So, it has great development support and is a well-managed application with a good install base of users. The only thing that’s not immediately visible on their home page is a way to contact live support, but support is possible through the WooCommerce site.
When you first set it up, it takes you through a setup wizard. You will see that it asks for the purpose of your use of the LMS. You will then see a set of options that starts off with the paid options. If you are planning to charge for your courses, then there is a module which handles the sale of your courses through the WooCommerce interface – for $129/year. There is also a scheduler option for $29/year. Then it includes options for certificates, course progress tracking, and media attachments for free! When you complete the installation, you are then given 4 options – create a new course, import content, install a sample course, and exit to the courses menu. They provide a link to documentation on how to create your first course. They also have thorough documentation for the features of Sensei LMS.
Overall, you get a fairly full-featured LMS for free. The main things you don’t get are the options to charge for a course and the option to schedule content. You do get the options for progress tracking, media attachments, blog post course creator, social media sharing for course progress, course participation tracking, and collapsible content. Quite a few features for the price of free. Additionally, there is a Trello board that tracks the development roadmap for Sensei LMS and its extensions. You can easily leave your input on what you’d like to see in future versions.
While Sensei LMS does provide quite a few nice features, it is not full-fledged LMS like some dedicated applications (e.g. Moodle). However, if you’re looking for a system that will enable you to quickly build courses and track students, Sensei LMS is a great solution.
LearnDash is a premium LMS integrated into the WordPress interface. If you want to see a great summary of the current version of LearnDash (version 3.0), you can see a well-produced video of LearnDash, how it works, and how it appears. There is a demo site where you can see the plugin in action. The course layout and options for LearnDash are very well polished and include features like SCORM support and essay management through additional add-ons. These are features usually found only in dedicated LMS applications. There are 3 levels of licensing mainly based on the number of sites and the inclusion of their ProPanel addon. The pricing varies from $159 for 1 site license to $329 for 25 site licenses. In spite of the pricing, it is nice to see that most of the features are included in the different versions and include 1 year of technical support. There are also over 30 addons that can enhance the functionality of the LMS.
LearnDash is one of the best LMS plugins for WordPress, but you do have to pay for it. It works with most WordPress themes and is easily customizable.
LifterLMS is another premium LMS plugin for WordPress that works great with most any “well-coded WordPress theme.” If you have a site built through Beaver Builder, Divi, or Elementor, then this LMS may be the right choice for you. This LMS is focused on providing a balance between the learning management experience but with particular emphasis for course creators and membership site owners. LifterLMS also has many options for learning to use the application including free training courses, webinars, a setup wizard, and detailed documentation. You can see a video providing a good description of the many features provided with this LMS. For $1 you can demo the LifterLMS for 30 days.
LifterLMS includes many plugin integrations through Zapier. Some of the features include:
- Multimedia lessons
- Course builder
- Drip content
- Course tracks
- Quiz time limits
- Student dashboard
There are many other features but you can find more complete descriptions at their site. The main detractor for the use of this LMS is the cost. It is one of the more expensive LMS plugins for WordPress. Their pricing ranges from $99+ – $999 per year. There is a 30-day 100% money-back guarantee. I recommend LifterLMS if you’re okay with the pricing and if you need an LMS to work with an already existing WordPress site. They have a number of resources to help you learn how to use their system in addition to the many add-ons that enhance its functionality.
LearnPress is another of the “free” LMS plugins that have been reviewed in this article. Like all of them, the added functionality is gained through premium addons. However, LearnPress is on the lower end of the pricing scale with addons and themes ranging from $60-70. LearnPress is a very powerful LMS and course builder that works with almost any theme. They state that LearnPress works with WordPress Multisite and you can create curricula and courses that include courses with multimedia. Video support includes videos from YouTube, Vimeo, and Wistia. You also have options to manage the courses you’ve created including monitoring statistics on course usage. With the addition of BuddyPress LearnPress provides communication options for the student and teachers. You can see a live demo of LearnPress and see how courses are presented.
There is a large community of Facebook users that can help provide information for your use of LearnPress. There is also forum support that includes a searchable database and the option to submit a ticket when you require additional assistance. The premium addons include functionality like assignments, certificates, co-instructors, payment options, content drip, paid memberships, and many more. LearnPress is a very capable option as a free LMS plugin for WordPress and should be considered if you are looking for a solution on a budget.
There are many more learning management systems available on the market, but these are a few of the more capable ones available for WordPress that will help you meet your eLearning solution goals. The best solution will depend on your needs and how much you’re willing to spend. A few of these options are not free in any form, and the premium pricing for the functional add-ons often reflects the work that was done to make these into capable eLearning solutions. Make use of the available demos and trial periods so that you can properly evaluate the solution that works best for you and your students or teachers. Remote learning has become a very common option in businesses and education. You can easily make use of a WordPress site and these eLearning plugins to provide solutions for your training or education needs.
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