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Providing E-Learning on the WordPress Platform

LMS-When companies need to deploy training on a regular basis, they begin looking for a Learning Management System. So the research begins and where do you start? Google of course!! Then when you search google, you get about 107,000,000 results. YES, that is one hundred and seven million results!! We will look at an affordable and flexible option using the WordPress platform. However, there is no single option that works for everyone.

Where Do You Start?

As you can see, there are plenty of options to choose from. But your boss wants some recommendations at next weeks staff meeting (if not sooner). Where do you start? Fortunately there has been plenty of research already done to give you a starting point. The first starting point is research and reviews by Capterra. In their first article, “Top LMS Software“, they have a long list of choices that will help you review and compare. Just click the options you want to compare. At the bottom of the page, your selections will be visible. Click the compare button and you will be presented with an informative listing on target market, pricing, product details, available support and  product training. They also have a listing of LMS research.

Another good starting point is from Software Insider. They offer a similar compare feature to Capterra but will add a “sponsored” product to the compare list. All three sites will give you a good starting point.

Why Use a WordPress LMS Option?

WP-WhyWordPress is the number one content management system on the web and now accounts for 26% of all sites across the web.  There are about 50,000 WordPress sites being added daily. You might be surprised to learn that WordPress is being used by several notable Fortune 500 companies. There is a good possibility that your company or organization is already using WordPress.

The WordPress platform is open source (which means free) and is easy to use. This is probably the major reason for it’s popularity. Most major web hosting services like BlueHost or GatorHost (there are many more) make it easy to select your domain name then do a one-click install of WordPress.

So what are the WordPress LMS Options? A little over four years ago when I first started looking at WordPress options, there was not much to choose from. Some very basic options that didn’t meet my needs. Now there are several other options available. This is a list of six WordPress LMS solutions intended for the end-user to install and set-up.

  1. LearnDash– A plugin for WordPress that has a featured-packed LMS without all of the clunky set-up. Easily create and sell courses, deliver quizzes, award certificates, and download user reports.
  2. WPCourseware– A plugin for WordPress that allows you to create a course, a module, a course unit with course content, and perhaps a quiz or survey. It offers drag and drop features to arrange the course and create a course outline using shortcodes or widgets.
  3. LearnPress– A free plugin from the WordPress repository. It does offer premium add-on plugins to expand the capabilities. But do your math, the premium plugins add-up. Many of the premium plugins are basic features of LearnDash or WPCourseware. The free version is probably ideal for a small club or business.
  4. Lifter LMS A free plugin that offers premium add-on plugin features. It will work with any modern theme but they also offer their own theme, LaunchPad, specifically designed for Lifter LMS.
  5. Sensi– With the Sensei free plugin you can create courses, write lessons, and add quizzes. Set lesson and course pre-requisites, allow user registration and even charge for your course content if you want. Sensi was developed by the team at WooCommerce.
  6. WPLMS– Is an e-Learning WordPress theme for course management, instructor and student management.WPLMS is a Social Learning management system built on BuddyPress (developers of WordPress) which provides an easy way to create and sell courses online.

In my opinion, the top two choices are LearnDash and WPCourseware. In a recent article by Chris Lema , he does a good job by comparing the pro’s and con’s of LearnDash and WPCourseware. Chris Lima points out that WPCourseware developers “are plugin guys first, eLearning second, and WordPress guys third.” LearnDash developers are “eLearning first, plugin second, and WordPress third. And that will have an impact on how you see, experience and value what they’ve done.” Like anything, it depends on your needs, preferences and budget.

Our Recommendation

LearnDash-Official-Logo1There are plenty of good features and options with the WordPress LMS options discussed above, but our preference is LearnDash. But why? Well my journey began about 5 years ago when I saw the abilities of WordPress and had the desire to go from Moodle and have an LMS solution that was easily customized and an all-in-one solution. I wanted customers and clients to have a seamless transition from the website to the LMS with identical branding. Additionally, only having one platform to know and maintain. I kept searching because I knew that I couldn’t be the only person wanting this ability.

Then I found LearnDash on the web and began using their first public release. I experimented with my college students offering classes with Moodle and LearnDash. Hands down, my students preferred LearnDash. As additional updates and features were rapidly released , I began using LearnDash as an LMS solution for clients (including myself).

Although I have never met the LearnDash developer, Justin Ferriman, I feel like I have known him for years. This is because of the excellent customer support he has provided. Problems and issues were quickly resolved and he responded personally. LearnDash has a great support site with a well documented knowledge base, support forums and video tutorials. From a distance, I have watched a good product become great. As stated earlier in a review by Chris Lima, LearnDash developers are “eLearning first, plugin second, and WordPress third. And that will have an impact on how you see, experience and value what they’ve done.” I couldn’t agree more. As an educator and instructional designer, it’s important and obvious that LearnDash is focused strictly on their product and how it helps or benefits the learning community. LearnDash is planning several other key updates and features in the Fourth Quarter of 2016. LearDash CEO Justin Ferriman states “As we enter into Q4 of 2016 I am pleased to say that we have a handful of exciting new developments that are nearing completion. The most highly anticipated of these is ProPanel 2.0, which is going through the final phases.

Whatever you decide for your learning management system, a WordPress platform will allow you to provide professional learning courses without breaking a budget. Assuming you already have a hosted domain name, each of the above options can be up and running from no cost to under $200. At Infinity Training Solutions, we believe the goal is quality training that improves a desired performance measure not spending thousands of dollars on a fancy LMS with a lot of bling. A WordPress LMS solution can meet the goal of learning to improve performance measures.

 

 

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Jeff Slapp

Jeff Slapp is the founder and CEO of Infinity Training Solutions and the National Academy of Criminal Justice. Both companies are focused on his passion for delivering quality training. Jeff is a retired Sheriff's Captain with 31 years of law enforcement experience and also serves as an adjunct university professor teaching criminal justice courses. Jeff received his Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University of South Florida. Go Bulls!!


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