Starting out with creating your WordPress online course, but confused about which plugins for eLearning to choose from?
Not sure which functionalities are necessary and which functionalities are optional?
In this blogpost I walk you through the most important WordPress plugins for eLearning course developers to choose from.
First I proceed with how you should evaluate your requirements in designing the course.
Learning Management System (LMS) plugins for eLearning
The most significant features that an LMS must have is for you to be able to:
- Give learner flexibility to pace their course as per their wish – self-paced course
- What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get Interface, to put minimum effort into using the interface
- Making complete course catalog, so that all the course information is collected at one location
- Automated User Enrollment and Status of course progress – completion status
- Course Reports for course creator to review how a course is progressing
- Learner feedback – Course Surveys and System Announcements – These are essential for the instructor to continually improve the learning experience
- Learner’s access to course transcript and course progress – Learners should have knowledge about their course progress as well
- Learner access to changing profile
Apart from these there are a number of other features that you may wish for, which would include
- Creating multiple course levels – so that there may be content-lite and content-heavy memberships
- Creating certificates of completion for learners that complete their course – certificates are a strong motivation for learners, as they provide tangible proof of the skills learnt
- Automating user access control – Restricting access to content and granting access to content depending on user level
- Generating course and user reports for course administrator
- Creating dripped content for controlling user progress in course – To control rate at which learner accesses the course, create dripped content tool
Sensei comes from the stable of WooCommerce, who are experts in developing eCommerce WordPress Plugins. Sensei is priced at $129 for a single-site license. This WordPress plugin for eLearning is a simple and effective interface for making courses, as the course, module, lesson and quiz sections can all be created with a lot of ease. The interface is essentially What-You-See-is-What-You-Get. Because of its compatibility with all WooCommerce plugins, and because of an interface that gets most things done easily and quickly, Sensei is our top-rated Learning Management Solution plugin.
Learndash specializes in E-Learning solutions, meaning that they have developed their LMS WordPress plugin for eLearning keeping in mind any features that an education LMS must require.
SCORM is a collection of standards for eLearning, which state how the LMS must package user learning content. SCORM standards ensure portability of learner information across different LMS. Tin Can API has now replaced SCORM as the new standard for educational content designed in a portable way. Learndash supports Tin Can API plugin.
Learndash have tried to make a complete marketing and product solution- they have their own membership solution, and have an integrated payment processing setup. The flip side of being an all-in-one solution is that this do not allow much scope for customization. On the other hand they have an active community support forum.
Essentially Learndash is optimal for developing detailed and academic-level eLearning solutions, where little customization is required.
WP Courseware is a lightweight wordpress plugin for E-Learning, whose strong point is that it integrates fairly easily with other WP Plugins. Likewise with this WordPress plugin you get a large varieties of customization options. An important plugin that WP CourseWare can integrate with is Membership Pro, which is the most popular membership wordpress plugin.
LearnPress is offered as a free plugin, and includes both free features and premium add-ons.
Premium add-ons apply for:
- Gamifying the course – adding points for learner activity
- Generating certificate
- For Integration with WooCommerce, PayPal and Stripe
- Integrating with Membership 2 Pro
LifterLMS is another lightweight E-Learning solution, that is very easy to use. Key features include:
- Integration with WooCommerce and BuddyPress support
- Support for certificates
- Supports both Stripe and PayPal
- Supports course scheduling and prerequisites
Membership WordPress Plugins
Membership 2 is the most widely used membership WordPress plugin. This is a free software, but has a paid pro version that offers added features.
Membership 2 is designed for ease-of-use for the beginner. It has a how-to guide to get you started with creating the course. Also Content access control and protection is made very easy with this plugin – for each lesson/ course you create you can select which membership levels to grant access to. Also Dripped content management is made very easy, and can be done on the same interface as the content protection. This makes managing your course much less complicated.
The pro version of Membership 2 integrates with both PayPal and Stripe payment solutions
Where Membership Pro relies on an easy-to-use interface and a free introductory membership plugin, WP eMember offers a robust membership WordPress plugin that offers both content protection and a large number of additional features, making this a great option for anyone looking for a complete WordPress membership plugin.
Using this wordpress plugin, it is easy to create multiple membership levels, and to grant differential access for different membership levels. Also in-page partial protection is available via easy to use shortcodes. Additional options include options to limit user access to minimize password sharing – effectively minimizing content piracy. Also there is support for Drip Content, which limits access to users based on their drip learning schedule.
eCommerce WordPress Plugins
eCommerce plugins can come quite handy for you in managing your course inventory, if you are selling multiple courses. An eCommerce plugin is not necessary for the new E-Learning developer, but if you wish to manage multiple courses, an integrated eCommerce plugin can come in quite handy for managing inventory.
WooCommerce wordpress plugin offers hundreds of extensions and themes, that make it quite easy to available for WooCommerce, which makes it easy to add new features to your eLearning site. If you have worked on WordPress previously and are comfortable with the technical details of using WordPress, this WordPress Plugin is the best eCommerce solution for you.
Shopify has a very easy interface, and is great for beginners who do not wish to go into technical details of using WP. It has a monthly subscription fees, but is worthwhile to use because of its hassle-free interface which allows you to get on with developing your course content without worrying about the technicalities. This WordPress plugin works with social networks such as Facebook Store, Buyable Pins and Twitter Buy buttons
WordPress Plugins for Videos
Content security and smooth streaming are two integral features that any WordPress plugin for eLearning must offer. VdoCipher offers an easy to use shortcode, and is a complete video hosting solution. In VdoCipher one-time access is only granted to a fully encrypted stream after backend authentication from the host website, meaning that video security is maximized. VdoCipher has a 10 min install ready to go live plugin for all elearning video wordpress sites.