Why LearnDash is the best WordPress LMS?
There are more than 800 Learning Management System (LMS) available. How would you choose the best LMS? In this post, we will explain what is an LMS and how it will benefit your business. Then we will look at the available LMS in the market and how to select the best LMS.
Our recommendation for anyone starting an Online School is LearnDash which is an application that works with WordPress. Although there are good SaaS (Software -As-A-Service) platforms such as LearnWorlds and Talent LMS, our recommendation for our clients is to build your Online School on WordPress platform as this gives you the greatest control and flexibility as you grow your business.
From our research and testings, we find LearnDash to be the most reliable, stable and feature-rich LMS. Together with WordPress, LearnDash enables non-techy people to build sophisticated, professional, commercial education platform without having to write a single line of code.
What is a LMS?
A learning management system (LMS) is a software application that organises your training contents (lessons, quizes, assignments, students interactions & discussion) in a systematic manner, allowing the students to be guided effectively by the software application throughout the entire online learning programme. Typically, it provides an easily accessible menu, allowing the students to know how much he has covered for the entire course. The LMS also enable instructors with a way to create and deliver content, monitor student participation and assess student performance.
What is the advantage of using a LMS?
If you are conducting your classes through e-learning, it does not mean you must use a LMS. You can design a website that is easy to navigate or leverage on Knowledge-based applications to guide the students through the e-learning programme. However, using a LMS is the most perfect solution as LMS is pre-designed to deliver the contents to the students in a clear and systematic manner. The following are the key advantages of using a LMS:
1. Creation of Learning Paths With an LMS, you can create a Learning Paths, i.e. multiple courses grouped together to enable your learners to progress systematically to achieve a learning objective. For example, if you can create a learning path to become a professional Digital Marketer. To reach the final goal of becoming a certified Digital Marketer, your students have to acquire multiple fields of knowledge–SEO, Website Analytics, Social Media Marketing, User Interface & Experience, Web Design and Ecommerce marketing. You can create courses for each of these fields and link them together as a single learning path to become a Digital Marketer. This helps your students to progress systematically.
2. Easy Self-Assessment and Grading Tools – Most LMS has inbuilt quiz creation and grading tools. This allows you to insert self assessment questions at specific milestones throughout your course to help your students self-assess their understanding before they proceed to the next lesson. With the assessment tools, you can even set the allowed duration for each question and provide a final result or feedback to allow your students to know where they have gone wrong and what they should re-learn.
3. Analytics Insights help you improve your course contents – A good LMS provides insights into your students’ interactions, the percentage of the lesson they complete, the number of enrolment, etc. This allows you to know the progress of your students. This is the most important reason why you should use a LMS. Without a LMS, you may build a website that is orderly and easy to navigate. However, you will not be able to know how your students are progressing and how you can enhance your courses to help them.
How to Choose a good LMS?
We have implemented several LMS over the past decade and what we are sharing here are the lessons that we have learned. We hope that through this, you will gain valuable insights and skip many years of unnecessary tasks as you set up your Online School.
1. Stability & Reliability of Software
This critical should be number one in your selection list. The reason is because in the building of a course, it takes many steps. Uploading your videos, linking your lessons and materials to specific modules, creation of your quiz questions, hints, messages for incorrect answers, etc. All LMS software are proprietary applications. You are unable to export your courses from one platform with just a few clicks and transfer all courses to another LMS. The very first LMS we installed was free LMS. After successfully running our Online School for about half a year, the company launched a new version and now anyone who make a purchase of the course could not automatically start the course. It took more than six months for that company to implement a software patch and it still did not fully solve the problem. During that period, we had to move our Online School to other LMS and that was really tedious.
Although it is common that software has bugs, the problem would be a lot minimized if a software company adopt a robust quality check process and has clean coding practice. It is because of this reason that we recommend LearnDash. Over the past years, the software has been very stable.
2. User Interface
The user interface and experience is extremely important. He helps your students to progress through your course easily. When you test a LMS, test the following
1. Registration & Course purchase – This is the first task that every of your students will have to go through. If the registration/ course purchase and auto-start process is complicated, you will end up having to put in a lot of customer support manpower to help your students. Test the purchasing of the courses with different payment gateways — stripe, paypal, etc. and make sure that your customers are led to auto start the course after a purchase. If that process flow is not smooth, you may even lost customers repeat purchases are less likely.
2. Course and Quiz Creation – Every LMS’ algorithm is designed differently as the developers thinking process is different. Check out what functionalities are made available. For example, in the case of LearnDash, you can create sections, lessons and topics. Drag and drop function allows you to re-arrange and make changes to course titles easily. LearnDash allows you to create lessons and topics within each lesson. You can enable materials to be accessible by the students within each lesson and within each topic. You can set duration to quizzes and link quizzes to specific lessons. You can also set the video to progress automatically from one lesson to another. This brings your LMS functionality to the level of industry leaders such as Udemy and Linkedin Learning. You can opt to have the students check the answer for each quiz question or only see the result after the entire test. All these has impact on your students’ experience.
3. Mobile Experience – Take note of how the lessons appear on desktops and mobile devises. Many students these days learn on the go and mobile experience is crucial. In the case of LearnDash, they have a “focus mode” that allows the students to close the site navigation and have a no-distraction learning. Some LMS even has dark mode selection, making reading a lot less glaring to the eyes.
3. Integration and Add-Ons
In line with item 1 on stability, we strongly recommend choosing a LMS companies that enable their API (Applications Programming Interface) to allow independent developers to build features add-ons for the LMS. This will enable that LMS to compete aggressively in the LMS industry. Having multiple developers building functionalities for them will always be faster than if they build all their features themselves. This ensures the survivability of the the LMS company in the long term.
In addition, if the LMS company is continously innovating and integrating with other products, it will bring a lot of value to the customers. It is for this reason why we stronglyr recommend LearnDash. LearnDash believe in building an ecosystem to allow their customers to add unlimited creativity.
LMS price range from free to thousands of dollars per year. Is it necessary for you to go for the top end of paying thousands of dollars per year just for the LMS?
Having tested many LMS, we believe that is unnecessary. For instance, LearnDash, which cost only $199 per annum (for one site) is so stable and feature rich. You can build an Udemy equivalent with LearnDash. Why then the need to go for the highly priced LMS?
5. Documentation & Customer Support
This is always an important factor in selecting any software application. You want to choose a LMS that has good documentation, video tutorials, learning community and prompt customer support.
Why we recommend LearnDash?
From the above paragraphs, we have mentioned quite a number of reasons why we recommend LearnDash, from stability & reliability, user interface, coruse creation functionalities to customer support. Over and above all these, there are 3 key reasons why we love LearnDash:
1. Easy Setup for Payment Gateway – LearnDash supports both Stripe and PayPal. You can set it up every easily, simply by entering your account emails for Stripe and PayPal respectively. This is extremely impressive.
If you have tested other LMS that do not have any payment gateway or they leverage on WooCommerce Payment gateways where you need to create a woocommerce product to link to your specific course, you will understand how tedious that is and you will really love LearnDash for this. For LearnDash, you can set for each course where is the specific page your customer will go to after purchasing. This is extremely awesome as you can write specific thank you page and instructions for your customers.
2. Sophisticated Marketing and Sales functionalities – LearnDash allows you to sell your courses on a one-time purchase for each course or sell them in bundles or by subscription, It also allows you to sell memberships instead of just courses. If you are already using other membership plugins, you can integrate it with LearnDash.
This is another excellent feature. You must recognise that although course creation is tough, it is even tougher to market courses amidst strong competition. The more flexibility your LMS allows, the more creative you can be in marketing your courses, and the higher your success rate.
3. Powerful Engagement and Management features- With LearnDash, you can place users into groups and sub-groups, then allow others to manage. You can drip courses, set mandatory assignments for students to submit, approve, comment, and award points on submitted assignments. You can easily run reports on enrollment, progress, and performance. You can automatically trigger e-mails based on actions learners take (or don’t take) in a course.
There are a lot more features that LearnDash has than what we have listed above. You can read up the full features here. If you are choosing WordPress as the platform to build your Online School, then LearnDash is the best LMS to use. The beauty about LearnDash is that it works with any WordPress theme and is well supported by Elegantthemes Divi.
LearnDash has a cloud solution where you can use much like a Website Builder or like LearnWorlds where you need not have to worry about hosting and other technical issues. LearnDash Cloud cost only $29 per month and you can get started with setting up your Online School with just the creation of an account.
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