Online education is booming, leading many website owners to want to cash in on the trend by offering courses (paid or free) to their target audience. If you have a website that is powered by WordPress, setting up and running courses could be only a plugin and a few clicks away.
What is an LMS?
LMS stands for Learning Management System. An LMS allows you to set up content into courses or coaching programs in a structured way, as a package students can access once they have registered. You can offer the courses for free, or get paid through one of the usual payment gateways, such as PayPal.
There are several LMS plugins to choose from, so your first step is to decide what you really need in relation to what you plan to offer. The starting point for your needs and requirements will be those of your students. What do they really need to know about the topic you are planning to teach and how can this best be delivered to them?
You can create courses that include:
You can also include:
- A grade book for marking their work
- Badges to show at a glance which courses they have taken
- Course completion certificates
You can set pre-requisite courses and start and end dates for courses. You can also drip-feed lessons, so you can pace the learning and assignments. One final consideration is how interactive you wish it to be, in terms of forming a community where students can connect with you, and each other.
WordPress LMS Plugins
Once you have decided which features are most important to you in an LMS, it will be time to compare LMS plugin features. Here are a few suggestions.
This is a full-featured LMS plugin for every type of teaching activity you could wish to include, such as quizzes, grade books and certificates. You can drip-feed the content and have more than one instructor teaching courses through the interface. You can sell the courses easily through various payment gateways, and it integrates with any WordPress theme. This is a paid product with three pricing tiers.
Woo Sensei is brought to you by the same team that creates the popular Woo Commerce ecommerce plugins, so you know it will be easy to use and will be regularly updated every time there is a WordPress update. The cost of the plugin is higher than others, but integrates with the entire WooCommerce suite of plugins and offers a full range of student-and teacher-friendly features, including multiple quiz formats such as fill in the blanks, multiple choice, and so on.
LearnDash is the most sophisticated learning management system, with a price tag similar to Woo Sensei. It offers all the main features you would expect from an LMS, plus course bundling, awarding points to unlock different incentives, a grade book, forums for students, and more. It also offers various ways to get paid, including monthly membership fees, recurring billing, and even setting up your own online course marketplace like Udemy.