The internet is a great place to pick up a skills and knowledge. Right from your study table at home, you can explore the internet for courses, sign up for them, work through the lessons and add a completion certificate to your resume. And WordPress has tons of easy options to turn your website into a full Learning Management System.
Many people are more than willing to pay good money for a course in subjects of their choice. To meet this demand, a number of institutions and individuals are reaching out to them via their educational websites. These websites undertake end-to-end services, from building course content and enrolling students, to conducting examinations and awarding course completion certificates.
And to meet the design and functional needs of these websites, quality themes and plugins that cater to the online educational platform are available in the market place.
You can go about building a Learning Management System (LMS) based on WordPress in multiple ways – you can put your coding skills to test in a self hosted WordPress install, or you can adopt one of the many ready made premium themes to help you out. If you merely want to offer courses, add a plugin that restricts user access to content.
Moreover, there are specialized LMS plugins that can handle all the special features required by websites offering online courses. They help you manage the courses, promote them and earn money from them in fees and ads. A few top of the line plugins are discussed here,
WP Courseware uses the drag and drop feature to help you build and arrange courses in the format that’s familiar to students and instructors. It’s also easy to create lessons or units – simply create posts or pages in WordPress in the way that you normally do and publish them. If you wish, arrange the lessons into modules and courses, and round them off with multiple quiz formats which test students’ understanding of the lessons. Not only that, you can even time the release of content by date or interval, using the drip feed feature. And let students know how they’ve fared using a grade book.
Use customizable email templates to convey grades and results by email. In addition, you can create unique, downloadable and personalized completion certificates for successful students. Don’t miss out on allowing access to instructors to edit content, and to manage courses and students.
Student enrollment can be manual or automatic. Not only that, you can allow access to courses only on completion of prerequisite conditions. WP Courseware is compatible with standard WordPress themes. You’re assured of protection from unauthorized access as there is support for Membership plugins (MemberPress, OptimizePress). Besides, support for popular eCommerce plugins (WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads) helps in online sales of courses.
The license for two sites starts at $99 and it includes a year’s support and updates.
Sensei Learning Management System
Creating content for courses with Sensei is as easy as creating a page or post in WordPress. Developed by WooCommerce, this Learning Management System integrates seamlessly with their eCommerce plugin. By linking courses to a purchased product, you can promote a course to a very relevant audience. Hence, a buyer of an embroidery kit is likely to receive an offer of a course on embroidery.
The plugin uses the familiar WordPress user registration features for signing up for a course. The prerequisites can be specified for each course, as well as for each lesson. Create question banks and use them to set up random quizzes. The plugin includes an analytics tool which tracks the progress of individual students or courses.
Sensei works well with most standard WordPress themes, although the developers recommend themes which offer integrated support for Sensei. Depending on the features you want to include, you can add a number of extensions to the plugin. Most of them are free, but to drip feed content and to award badges for achievements, you’ll need to purchase extensions separately.
A single site subscription comes at $129 and gives you access to a year’s support and updates.
The LearnPress core plugin is free and lightweight. If there’s any function that you need on your website, look for it among the number of free and paid add-ons. Some of the functions help to better monetize the website.
The user interface helps in course building, editing and maintaining course content. You can adjust many settings here such as duration of course, required pass marks, number of attempts and taking quizzes, before advancing to the next level. It’s also possible to export courses to other websites that use LearnPress. With BuddyPress support, students can form groups to discuss problems and share knowledge.
While you can use LearnPress with any standard WordPress Theme, the authors strongly recommend that it be used along with Education WordPress Theme and LMS WordPress Theme. The plugin is translated into many languages, supports multisite networks, as well as PayPal, Stripe and WooCommerce payment methods.
LearnDash Learning Management System
LearnDash is a complete Learning Management System that implements the Tin Can (Experience) API to capture and store your users’ learning activities. Tin Can API is an elearning software specification that tracks and records all learning experiences. It collects data on experiences like mobile learning, simulations, real-world activities, experiential learning, social learning, offline learning and collaborative learning. This data gives you insight into the learning activities of users. Notably, it helps informal and personalized learning, where individual performance is tracked from the backend by instructors or institute personnel.
LearnDash is feature packed and integrates well with WordPress to make it easy for you to publish content and monetize the website. You can break the courses into multiple tiers for simple presentation. Drip feed content according to schedule and disable access after a specified time. Use any media element like audio, video, images, Google Docs, Articulate or Adobe Captivate files. Design quizzes in a simple questionnaire format or pick from the 8 pre-designed quiz types offered by the plugin.
Lesson timers guide how much time a student can spend on any lesson, and Assignment Managers allow comments on submitted assignments. Users can create profiles from frontend and enrolled users can join private or public course specific forums.
The developers have relied on their rich industry experience in developing this plugin, and a number of reputed universities count among the users. The plugin is multisite enabled and works with any theme. A number of free and premium extensions are available for enhanced features. These extensions have been developed in response to community feedback. Plus there are hundreds of compatible themes (such as eLumine or University) that add extra features and styling options.
Single site licenses start at $159 and it includes a year’s support and updates.
Once you install the the free version of Namaste! LMS, you can convert your WordPress install into a functional educational website. The eLearning features include creating lessons and assignments, student enrollment, managing courses and students, setting prerequisites for lessons and more.
Enhance the plugin’s function with the free membership plugin Konnichiwa! Generate detailed reports on students’ onsite activity. When activated, a dashboard widget reveals a specified number of days’ activity on the page. PayPal and Stripe integrations help to collect payment for the courses.
The premium version makes it easy to monetize the website – add a shopping cart to specified courses, create and manage discount coupons and manage protected files. Not only that, you can grant access to some users as class managers and award badges for course completion or for earning points.
The base plugin of LifterLMS is free, intuitive to use and flexible. It checks almost all the boxes in the list of required Learning Management System features and powers WP101, a popular WordPress video tutorial series.
Students can study with progress bars and quizzes to keep track of their progress. Keep students informed with automated emails. These emails are set to be triggered by predefined student activity, like not logging in for a long time, failing a quiz, reminder for due dates and more. Using action-based emails, reach out to students who leave the course mid-way. Drip content according to specified schedules or to match the progress of students.
LifterLMS offers payment via PayPal and WooCommerce (both free) and Stripe (paid add-on). You can add coupons and discounts on the website to increase student enrollment. A number of paid add-ons are available, and you can buy them individually or as an all-in-one bundle.
An LMS allows users to learn at their own pace, using any device that they are comfortable with. The learning process can be made more exciting by awarding badges, innovative quizzes and top performer listings. Besides, adding a forum or community can help to encourage students in the learning process.
In the past few years, there’s been an increase in the use of WordPress as a base for websites of educational institutions and online courses. The plugins discussed in this post all combine well with WordPress to set up a complete online course delivery system. Some are free, while others offer very attractive features in the price band of $99 – $200. To top it all, learning can become a satisfying activity.
Any experience with these plugins? Please share in Comments.