LearnDash is one of the most popular WordPress-based learning management systems out there today. With its robust core features and plentiful add-ons to integrate additional functionalities into the website, it is now on par with LMS giants like Sensei and WP Courseware.
However, when it comes to deciding which themes or plugins to choose for your LMS, it might get a little complicated. So we’ve collected 5 themes and 10 plugins you can consider for your LearnDash website, that add a beautiful interface and out-of-the-box functionalities to your online course making it one of a kind!
WordPress Themes for LearnDash
First, let’s have a glimpse 5 of the best themes you can use for LearnDash. These all include full support for the LearnDash LMS as well as courses, lessons, quizzes and more.
1. Social Learner
Social Learner is one of the best themes created for LearnDash. It has a great interface, integrates flawlessly with LearnDash and all its add-ons and has an extensive Admin Panel to control all activities of your elearning ecosystem. True to its name, Social Learner adds a social cognizance to your website, making it interactive and easily shareable for your learners. This has the added advantage of automatically increasing your social network, thereby improving your market reach to the target audience.
The best feature of Pathshala is that it is extremely user-friendly. Featuring a drag-and-drop page builder, dynamic sidebars, responsive layout, and default integration with BuddyPress, it allows you to leverage the best of LearnDash out of the box. The interface is pretty good and the theme has four default color schemes that can be used to change the skin of your website. Pathshala also has an inbuilt grid layout display, which saves you the trouble of installing an add-on for the same.
3. University – Education, Event, and Course Theme
University by Cactus themes is great for e-learning ecosystems having a larger user-base like, you guessed it, universities! It features almost everything you could ask for while managing hundreds of courses and dozens of instructors, such as event calendars, event management options, multiple home page demos, Facebook comments integration, and a ticketing system.
Fernando is a responsive theme built on the Genesis framework, giving you a solid foundation to build on. It also integrates well with TubePress, iThemes Exchange, making it easier for you to add video lessons to the course and sell it online as a digital product. Some additional features include an email list builder, membership support, and numerous calls to action.
5. Invent – Education Course College WordPress Theme
Invent is a theme by LiveMesh made after an in-depth study of the various functionalities required by schools, colleges, and universities. It has over 30 in-built page building elements, shortcodes for quick customization, and multiple color schemes. If a basic e-learning theme without all the bells and whistles is what you are looking for, Invent can be a good option.
LearnDash Extensions for WordPress
Speaking of bells and whistles, we come to the next part of our consideration stage while building an e-learning website with LearnDash, i.e., the plugins you can choose for extending the functionality of your website. As we have mentioned before, LearnDash has plenty of default features in the core package.
Having said that, it is not possible to include everything in the main plugin as all functionalities might not be useful for all course authors, and might lead to unnecessary code bloat. This is where the add-ons come in handy.
Here we shortlist 10 add-ons that can enrich your LearnDash website adding knick-knacks to ease course creation and management.
Every e-learning system needs and e-commerce module. Not only does it help monetize your website, but it also makes keeping track of your transactions easier. To this end, WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads are both great options, useful for selling course online. Strictly speaking, as most of the courses are digital, you tend to consider EDD as the platform of choice, and that is good. When it comes to selling purely digital goods, no other plugin can hold a candle to EDD.
However, if you have substantial expansion on your mind, WooCommerce is the way to go. The latter supports physical and digital products both and has a ton of additional resources which can be used to leverage features like product bundling and enquiry systems to the maximum possible extent. LearnDash has free integration add-ons for WooCommerce and EDD both, available on the official add-ons page.
2. Advanced Course Manager
Although LearnDash is mostly user-friendly, course building is still a bit of a chore. You have to keep going back and forth between the courses, lessons, topics, and quizzes to add the content to the topics and arrange the flow in the course. The Advanced Course Manager extension eliminates this to-and-fro travel by providing a drag-and-drop course builder on the Course Edit page. In addition, it also has extensive options for students to connect easily to the instructors and vice versa, for quicker doubt clearing.
The add-on also integrates a functionality for students to resume the course from the lesson where they have left off or the page they were on.
3. BadgeOS Integration
Gamification is not a new concept in elearning. The idea of addition of various certifications and badges to make online learning more fun and competitive has been in vogue for a long time. the BadgeOS integration lets you add this feature to your course painlessly, making your course literally a thing of beauty!
4. Adaptive Learning with LearnDash
Adaptive Learning with LearnDash is a nifty little add-on that lets you add child courses for a student depending on his/her performance in the main course. For instance, if you observe that a student is performing below average in a particular segment, you could assign a couple of basic courses to brush up the related principles, making it mandatory for the student to complete the prerequisite courses before he/she can resume the main course.
Or on the other hand, if a student performs exceptionally well in a segment of the course, you could encourage him/her to complete an additional mini-course for extra credit.
Default course flows can be set up for Quizzes, with the minimum passing percentage being the criteria for student segmentation.
5. Instructor Role for LearnDash
Instructor Role for LearnDash lets you add multiple instructors to your e-learning website. By default, LearnDash allows only Administrators to act as course authors. However, it is hardly feasible to provide admin access to numerous people as it would compromise the security of the website. Neither can you manage all courses via a single or even two administrators.
And what if somebody was interested in giving a guest lecture? To avoid this can of worms, Instructor Role lets you create Instructors who can access and manage everything related to the courses they have authored, but cannot access the main backend, keeping all your core information safe and secure.
6. LearnDash Notes
With the advent of lecture transcripts and unlimited downloads, note-taking is a lost art. Not on your LearnDash website though. LearnDash Notes is the add-on that lets your students take notes in real time, without having to switch between the course website and regular writing tools like MS Word or Notepad.
7. Front End Course Creation
Front End Course Creation is the advanced stage of Instructor Role. It adds instructors to your course as well but allows only front-end access to it. That is, they can essentially create and conduct the course, but they have no access whatsoever to the student enrollment, management, or monetary side of the spectrum.
8. BuddyPress Integration
Man is a social animal. It is a proven fact that people learn better in a group. And I am done with platitudes. Seriously though, BuddyPress is a great way of creating social profiles for your students and creating a sense of group identity amongst your students in a particular course. LearnDash’s BuddyPress integration lets you leverage all the social networking advantages offered by the plugin with ease.
9. Content Cloner
Content Cloner is a lifesaver for course authors who have a series of courses relating to a specific subject. As the name indicates, the add-on lets you duplicate your course in one click, and customize it as necessary either. It is a huge time-saver for authors who can simply duplicate the skeleton course multiple times and then proceed to add all relevant data, making it by far the easiest option for maintaining conformity.
10. Ratings, Reviews, and Feedback for LearnDash
When it comes to online courses, there is an unspoken agreement between the course author and the student to provide quality content and put in best efforts respectively. Ratings and reviews help validate this mutual trust, encouraging other people to enroll into the course as well. Human nature equals quality with ratings and hence, having a course rating system for your website can go a long way in building a trustworthy reputation.
Ratings, Reviews, and Feedback lets students who have enrolled into the course rate and review the course but only after they have completed it partially or completely. It is the author’s prerogative to set up when reviews can be added, thus ensuring that only genuine reviews are obtained. Student feedback is also a part of the functionality, which lets the author know what are the positives of the course and its shortcomings as well.
This concludes our list of 15 great themes and plugins you can use for your LearnDash website. What is your opinion? Any other recommendation you would like to add? Or perhaps a review of any of these plugins you might have used? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section