How to Choose the Right WordPress LMS

Online courses have become increasingly popular, particularly since COVID-19.And that’s no surprise — they’re an incredible opportunity to educate people around the world about your passion t. Plus, they’re a great way to earn extra income or even start a full-time business.

If you already have a WordPress website, plugins are the best way to add LMS functionality. Let’s take a deeper dive into online classes, along with the best WordPress LMS plugins you can use to offer them on your site.

What is an LMS?

LMS stands for “learning management system” and it’s a tool that provides all the functionality needed for teaching online. It enables course creators to deliver learning materials to students around the world either in real-time or with a self-paced model. 

An LMS tool can be used for a variety of applications, from training new employees to teaching students about music, cooking, finance, art, and more. And those courses can be available at no charge, as part of a membership program, or for a set price.

What to look for in a WordPress LMS

There are several WordPress LMS plugins to choose from, but the right fit will depend on your needs and budget. Here are a few indications of a quality LMS tool:

  • Has good reviews. Check the plugin’s reviews. Are they positive or negative? What complaints do existing users have?
  • Provides regular updates. Make sure that the plugin developers regularly update their software to match with the most current version of WordPress.
  • Integrates with existing tools on your site. Do you already use WooCommerce to sell products? BuddyPress for forums? Make sure that the plugin you choose works well with your existing system.
  • Has the capabilities you need. Think through any specific functionality you’re looking for, like the ability to monetize your courses or administer and grade quizzes. Then, make sure that the tool you choose can provide that functionality.
  • Offers the learning format you want to implement. Do you want to offer cohort-based (taught to students all at the same time) or self-paced (available to students to complete in their own timeframe) classes? Ensure the LMS you choose allows for this.
  • Is easy to use. Check that the LMS plugin you work with meets your level of technical skills so you can easily create courses and interact with students.

Four of the best WordPress LMS tools

Now that you know a bit more about learning management systems, let’s compare four great WordPress LMS plugins.

Note that you’ll need at least a Business plan with WordPress.com to enable and use plugins.

1. Sensei LMS

Sensei LMS is an excellent option that is built and supported by Automattic, the team behind WordPress.com. It provides everything you need to create successful online courses at no cost —  along with a premium version that lets you sell those courses, drip content to students, and more. It even integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce, so you can charge for your courses one time, or include them as part of a membership or subscription program.

Sensei LMS features:

  • Course creation capabilities
  • Quiz creation and auto-grading functionality, including quiz timers, customizable feedback, and advanced quiz question types 
  • The ability to add interactive content like videos, images, and downloads
  • Seamless integration with WooCommerce, allowing users to sell courses as standalone products or as part of subscriptions or memberships
  • A course hierarchy system, which includes modules and lessons to break up content
  • Course completion certificates
  • The ability to drip course content to students on a set schedule
  • A built-in communication system to message students and respond to questions

Ease of use:

Sensei LMS is a very intuitive platform, especially if you’re already using WordPress. You can add a course using the same dashboard you already use to create pages and posts. And if you use WooCommerce, you’ll find that selling courses is extremely similar to the steps you take to sell products. Everything is done with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop builder — no code required!

Price:

  • The free version of Sensei LMS allows users to publish an unlimited number of free courses, along with all the basic functionality. 
  • The Pro version enables users to sell their courses, schedule drip content, set expiration dates, and enable advanced quiz features for $149 per year. The Pro plan also includes priority support.

2. LearnDash

LearnDash is a comprehensive LMS plugin built for WordPress. It offers everything users need to create courses, monetize them, provide student feedback, and market them to potential customers. It provides all of the materials that new users need to get started, from in-depth guides and video tutorials to live webinars and a Facebook community. There is no free version, however, so it may not be the best option for those just starting out or who aren’t interested in monetizing their classes. 

LearnDash features:

  • Course creation capabilities 
  • Advanced quiz features, like question banks, time limits, hints, and essay reviews
  • Dynamic content delivery, including drip feeds
  • Course prerequisite settings
  • Gamification options, like awarding course points and showing a leadership board
  • Discussion forums
  • The ability to sell your courses as standalone products or as part of subscriptions or memberships
  • Marketing capabilities like Mailchimp integration and engagement triggers

Ease of use:

LearnDash is relatively easy to use, utilizing a drag-and-drop builder for course creation, and doesn’t require any code. However, there may be a slight learning curve simply due to the number of features available, many of which you may not need or utilize.

Price:

  • The Basic plan includes one website, along with the vast majority of features for $159 a year.
  • The Plus plan includes ten websites and adds an activity reporting dashboard for $189 a year.
  • The Pro plan includes 25 websites for $329 a year.

3. LifterLMS

LifterLMS is a learning management plugin that goes beyond the basics by enabling users to package courses as degree programs or create a multi-instructor course system. Or they can use the plugin to sell one-off classes, engage with their students, and market to new customers. However, while there’s a free version of the plugin available, it’s not very robust. Premium features use a rather complicated add-on system, and piecing together a custom plan can get quite expensive.

LifterLMS features:

  • The ability to create multimedia lessons with video, audio, images, and more
  • Quiz creation capabilities
  • Marketing tools, like content dripping and review collection
  • Prerequisites for course enrollment
  • The ability to create entire degree programs from multiple courses
  • A student dashboard that allows users to track their progress
  • The ability to create a multi-instructor platform
  • Forums and discussion areas
  • The ability to sell courses as one-time products, subscriptions, or memberships
  • Student engagement tools, like achievement badges, text messaging, and social learning
  • Student management features, including detailed reporting and gradebooks

Ease of use:

LifterLMS is pretty straightforward to use, and the setup and course creation process is very similar to other WordPress tasks. However, the number of options can become overwhelming for beginners.

Price:

  • With the free version, you can create simple courses, along with quizzes, but cannot charge for them.
  • All other functionality comes in the form of add-ons. For example, if you want to accept PayPal payments for your courses, you’ll need one add-on. If you want to integrate with Mailchimp, you’ll need another. And if you want to create assignments, you’d need yet another. Each add-on starts at $120 per year, though some are much more expensive. 
  • There are add-on bundles available. The Universe Bundle includes a set of add-ons for $360 per year. The Infinity Bundle includes all add-ons for $1200 per year.

4. LearnPress

LearnPress is a simple, straightforward LMS plugin with the majority of functionality available at no cost. However, there are paid add-ons available for additional features that you can use to build your own plan. This plugin does provide basic course functionality, but keep in mind that it’s not a full-scale solution, nor does it provide the same level of support as premium choices.

LearnPress features:

  • Course creation capabilities
  • Integration with WooCommerce, PayPal, and more for selling courses
  • Integration with BuddyPress for student communication via forums
  • Prerequisite settings for courses
  • Premium add-ons that include features like WooCommerce integration, assignments, certificates, and multiple instructors 

Ease of use:

While LearnPress is relatively straightforward, there’s no setup wizard available and getting started can be a bit tricky for beginners.

Price:

  • LearnPress is a free plugin, with most features included at no cost.
  • Add-ons are available at varying prices, most around $29.99.

Find online course success with the right WordPress tools

Online courses are an incredible opportunity — make the most of them by choosing the right LMS plugin for your site. The best fit for you will depend on your specific needs and budget, but if you’re looking for one created by the same people behind WordPress.com, Sensei LMS is an ideal choice. The premium version is more affordable than some of the other plugins we discussed and it includes excellent support and most of the advanced features you’ll ever need. 

Get started with Sensei LMS.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The WordPress.com Team

At WordPress.com, our mission is to democratize publishing one website at a time. Create a free website or build a blog with ease on WordPress.com. Dozens of free, customizable, mobile-ready designs and themes.

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