Today I want to talk about the best platform to create online courses.
In order to have your own online courses, you’ll need a great learning management system (LMS) platform. This can be a pretty overwhelming decision because there are quite a few options.
I have great news, especially for those with a WordPress website — you don’t need to be overwhelmed anymore!
LearnDash is one of the best LMS platforms out there and it has the awards to back it up. In fact, it was Capterra’s training software winner of 2020 — and the only WordPress LMS on their list.
LearnDash is also the platform of choice for heavy hitters like Tony Robbins, major universities, and Fortune 500 companies.
LearnDash & WordPress
LearnDash is a premium WordPress plugin that fully integrates with most current quality themes (like our favorite, Avada).
This means it works in conjunction with an existing WordPress website. If you already have a website, you’re ready to get started; if you don’t, this may or may not be the best option for you (see below for my input on this).
LearnDash easily facilitates managing and selling your online courses from your WordPress website, which is why it’s my first choice for those have an existing site.
What Does LearnDash Offer?
LearnDash has a lot to offer! It’s a powerful LMS that makes it easy for anyone to create and sell both subscriptions and individual courses.
After purchasing and installing the plugin, simply click on “Courses,” then “Add New,” and type in your course title and you’re on your way to creating a course! (If you’re already using Gutenberg in WordPress, the lesson editor will feel very familiar.)
You can add section headings or new lessons and then rearrange them easily through the drag-and-drop method. You can add as many materials, quizzes and topics as you want within one lesson.
Here are some of the specific benefits to LearnDash:
1. Enables you to self host your courses
Self-hosting means your course content lives in your WordPress database, not someone else’s offsite database.
Self-hosting your online courses has three major benefits:
You own and control your courses
There are no recurring monthly charges
The design matches your website
Owning your courses means they are totally in your control — no one can do anything to them, just like no one can do anything to your website (other than the people you provide access to!).
Once you purchase the LearnDash plugin, you’re done paying for your LMS! (Unless, of course, you pay someone else to build your school for you.)
One of the best aspects of LearnDash is that there are NO ongoing monthly fees, making it much less costly in the long-term than other online course platforms, such as Kajabi, Thinkific, and Teachable.
2. Seamless integration with more than 300 apps
LearnDash seamlessly integrates with over 300 apps directly from your WordPress site.
Some examples include:
Easy Digital Downloads
This means that if LearnDash doesn’t do exactly what you want it do, there a LearnDash or third-party app that will!
3. Downloadable class materials
LearnDash enables you to include a variety of class materials for students to download, including Word or Pages doc, PDFs, images and more.
4. Enables you to reuse course content
Do you create a lot of courses with similar subjects? Do you wish you could easily add a previous lesson to a new course?
Reusing course content is easy in LearnDash thanks to a time-saving feature that allows you to do this with ease.
Just locate the previous lesson through the “Document” panel, then hover your mouse over the lesson you want to add to your new course and click “Add.”
That’s it! The lesson is now part of the new course, thus saving you tons of time and hassle recreating something you already have.
LearnDash’s quiz builder lets you easily create a quiz that you can attach to a Course, Lesson or Topic.
You can also create a quiz by clicking on “Quizzes” and then “Add New.” Name the quiz, then add questions by clicking on the “Builder” and “New Question.”
The editor helps you by offering a variety of question types (even math equations!) and question settings. This is one of the things that makes LearnDash the best virtual classroom platform out there.
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6. Easily remove website distractions
You want your users to have a quality and distraction-free experience when they’re taking your courses.
LearnDash’s Focus Mode helps with that on the front-end.
Instead of distracting sidebar widgets that make your courses look like ordinary blog posts, Focus Mode gives you a professional and clean course presentation.
There’s no need to spend hours removing sidebar widgets manually — it’s as easy as clicking a few buttons. All you do is go to “Settings” and toggle the “Focus Mode” on, then click “Save.”
LearnDash extracts the on-screen distractions and leaves a clean interface. This helps students by eliminating confusion and on-screen temptations.
The course navigation becomes the sidebar and users can collapse and expand it as necessary.
The only buttons the student sees are “Complete” and “Next Lesson.” This keeps your online learner focused on course completion.
The progress bar also stays in place because it offers motivation through visual feedback. There’s no guessing about how much progress the student is making.
7. Includes a branded user profile
A user profile page is where your users can find valuable information, such as the courses to which they have access and any course expiration dates if you’ve set them.
Students can also see their progress, along with other useful information.
With LearnDash, you’ll get a beautiful branded user profile layout at the click of the “LearnDash Profile” block button.
8. Enables dripping of content
The ability to drip course content is a highly desired option by many instructors of online programs who don’t want all of the classes to be available to their students at once.
LearnDash enables you to feed, or “drip,” your students a little content at a time.
You can automate this through the Lesson Access Settings found in “Settings,” where you can set the lesson release schedule for each lesson.
Once you set it, you can forget it and let LearnDash do the work for you!
9. Built in shopping cart & payment options
Dealing with shopping carts and payment options is often a headache, but LearnDash makes this easy as well.
If you use PayPal or Stripe you’re set to go without the need for a third-party payment processing app or plugin. Other payment processors can be integrated using their proprietary plugins.
You may need a third-party app, such as WooCommerce or CartFlows, to set up vouchers, coupons, or discounts, although it’s very likely that LearnDash’s Group feature will enable you to do what you need without this extra step.
Since people are increasingly tied to their mobile phones, any content you create must be mobile-friendly.
LearnDash is definitely a mobile-friendly platform, so online learners can access their courses from wherever they are.
LearnDash: The Best Platform to Create Online Courses
I consider LearnDash to be the best platform to create online courses, especially if you already have an existing WordPress website.
It’s most cost effective in the long run, you retain total control of your online courses, your classroom will have the same branding as your website, and it’s extremely functional with many awesome features.
Don’t Have a WordPress Website?
If you don’t already have a WordPress website and your site’s primary purpose will be to host your courses, thinking about the long term will help you make the best decision.
Put some serious and honest thought into this question — are you just dipping your toe into teaching or are you in it for the long haul?
If you aren’t sure about the longevity of your online teaching career, then I recommend looking into Kajabi or Thinkific as you can create both a website and your courses within their solid LMS platform.
In the short-term, this is most likely more cost effective than creating a WordPress website and a LearnDash classroom.
If you know you’re a long-termer, it’s very likely to cost you less over time to go the WordPress + LearnDash route, since you bypass the ongoing monthly fees of the other platforms.
If I can answer a question that will help you make a decision, don’t hesitate to contact me for my two cents!
Get Started with LearnDash
Have you been procrastinating creating online courses for your WordPress site because you’re intimidated and overwhelmed?
It’s time to get started with LearnDash! It really is the best platform to create online courses because it’s easy and affordable.
Yes, you can probably do it yourself, but I always recommend hiring a specialist to help with major projects like this. We can do it in a fraction of the time and free up your time to do more of what you do best.
Building a LearnDash classroom on your WordPress website is an investment, but it’s a worthy one if you’re serious about teaching.
LearnDash sets the bar high in the world of e-learning and Scribaceous sets the bar high with WordPress websites, so it’s a win-win combo!
Time if of the essence — click below to contact me today to learn more.
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Janet Doré is the CEO (Chief Everything Officer) of Scribaceous, Inc., and has been passionately supporting her clients since 2013. Learn more about her here and connect with her on Linkedin and Facebook!