The exponential growth in the e-learning industry continues to provide plenty of opportunities to schools, universities, corporations, and entrepreneurs.
However, the advent of learning management system (LMS) platforms has made it possible for schools, corporations, and small-time creators like us to create and sell unlimited courses online.
Because 43% of the web is built on WordPress, many of these LMSs are built to integrate well with your existing WordPress website.
This article will cover the most popular WordPress LMS plugins and their unique use cases so you can easily decide which one to use for your online courses.
How to Choose a WordPress LMS Plugin
Choosing the best online course platform or learning management system for your courses is not as easy as picking the least expensive or even one with the most reviews. Here are some of the essential features you should look out for in any LMS plugin.
With these essential features in mind, let’s look at our top picks for the best WordPress LMS plugins and their use cases.
Common Features Among LMS Plugins
In this section, we’ll look at a list of common features that are an inherent part of any LMS plugin worth its salt. These are essential for a good user experience and a better learning experience for students.
What are the Best WordPress LMS Plugins?
While we’ve selected these based on extensive testing and our own experience with them, the most important metric is your individual needs. Understanding what you need to achieve with an LMS plugin is half a battle won. Another half is knowing what these plugins offer, and that’s what we’re about to uncover:
As you create online courses, it is almost inevitable that you will soon realize that you’ll need more than one plugin to fit your needs. With some plugins, that realization comes early, while with others, like AccessAlly, you can create, grow and scale all within one solution.
AccessAlly’s strength lies in its depth of both LMS features and membership management features. At its core, AccessAlly is both an LMS and an all-in-one membership plugin, and it does that super well. However, AccessAlly goes beyond just creating online courses and comes with powerful ecommerce features for marketing and selling your products.
Who Uses AccessAlly?
If you’re looking for an LMS and own private membership site plugin that makes everything work seamlessly from one end to the other (payments, courses, and memberships) with as few plugins as possible, AccessAlly may be the ticket.
LearnDash is used by both fortune 500 companies and small-time creators alike. Its beauty lies in its simplicity and flexibility. It’s simple enough with its out-of-the-box features but also allows for integrations with other add-ons/plugins that unleash increased functionality.
Part of why LearnDash is so popular is because it doesn’t break the bank.
LearnDash is also scalable by virtue since it’s easy to marry with other plugins because of its popularity. Lastly, there are plenty of themes that are compatible with LearnDash.
Who Uses LearnDash?
LearnDash is popular among schools, corporations, universities, and other professional training organizations. Because it is so easy to use, LearnDash is popular among bloggers and other creators looking for a simple LMS solution to integrate with their existing WordPress site.
If you have an existing WordPress site, whether you’re a Fortune 500 company for employee training or an average Joe looking to monetize their blogs, LearnDash works so well for everyone on both ends of the spectrum and everyone else in between.
LearnDash is popular for a reason. Its out-of-the-box features are packed with everything you need to start your online courses. It doesn’t end there, however. LearnDash integrates beautifully with other plugins/add-ons for added capability when and if you need more. Yes, it will cost you an extra couple of hundred bucks, but considering how affordable LearnDash is, you’d probably still be better off than with other pricier alternatives.
Tutor LMS is one of the more recent competitors in this space. Their recent version, 2.0, is more polished and optimized for user interface with some powerful features, making it a worthy contender in this list.
If you’d like to create a course marketplace with multiple instructors, Tutor LMS may be the ticket for you. The level of detailed customization you can achieve without a theme or page builder, from their front-end course catalog page to certification builder, is impressive.
Who Uses Tutor LMS?
Tutor LMS has a free version packed with its core course creation features but lacks more advanced features, such as reporting and analytics, which are reserved for the premium version.
Want to create your own Khan Academy online school? Tutor LMS is ideal for a course marketplace where you can create a single or multiple-instructor course marketplace.
Tutor LMS has struck a nice balance between functionality and usability. Most student and instructor dashboards I have come across are bare-bones and boring. Unlike most of the plugins in this list, They have deliberately made an effort to create meaningful dashboards for both students and instructors.
Building an online school/training center with you as the sole instructor is much different from having multiple instructors. There are a host of additional features you’d want to have, and Tutor LMS is the only online learning platform in this list that emphasizes catering to multiple instructors and has strong features to back that.
LifterLMS is another powerful and scalable “all-in-one” LMS plugin. With LifterLMS, you can start out with their generous free plan and progressively grow with more powerful features over time as your business needs them.
LifterLMS’s core version is free and allows you to create online courses and memberships with student engagement features such as quizzes, completion certificates, automated emails, and email notifications. The downside of the free version is the absence of support for payment options. To accept online payments, you’d need a premium online payment gateway extension which costs $99 per year.
Who Uses LifterLMS?
LifterLMS can be the right solution for both developers and starters alike. You can download a free version and play around with it. If you like what you see, you can pair the free version with one of the premium payment gateways for $120 per year in order to accept online payments.
LifterLMS’ core plugin can be the cheapest option for the most basic online course but can also get expensive quickly as you need additional features and premium plugins.
Pricing for Sensei starts at $149/year, with their core plugin and a decent amount of features free.
Sensei LMS was created by the makers of Woocommerce, and as you can appreciate, it works flawlessly well with the Woocommerce shopping cart.
Who Uses Sensei LMS?
Sensei LMS is targeted at starters and advanced users; whether you want to share your knowledge or provide formal education, they have something for everyone. Sensei strikes a nice balance between functionality and simplicity.
If the above plugins seem a little expensive or intimidating, Sensei LMS is free and built to feel and look like your WordPress dashboard. Creating courses with a Sensei LMS website is not much different from creating pages and blog posts.
While Woocommerce and Sensei LMS’ core plugins are free, you’d still have to pay for a payment gateway subscription if you’re planning to accept online payment options, which most start at $99 per year.
WP Courseware (Free)
Pricing plans for WP Courseware start at $129/year for two-course websites, and their free demo is the closest thing to a free trial.
While not as popular as other LMS plugins in this list, WP Courseware has an impressive set of features and a far less complicated pricing structure.
Course creation in WP Courseware is robust and comes with tons of additional features to create large or small online courses with ease. When you combine their expansive course creation features with their student engagement tools, you’ve truly got a winner.
Who Uses WP Courseware?
WP Courseware counts, among 20,000+ other customers, some top universities and companies from around the world, such as Verizon and the University of Illinois.
WP Courseware is generally used by small-time creators and big universities. It’s also the most affordable out of the plugins in this list and, arguably, the most cost-effective considering the wide range of features packed into it.
For a nice balance between pricing and additional features, WP Courseware beats the most, if not all, plugins in this list.
Bonus: Membership Plugins
Are LMS and membership any different? While there are some overlaps, yes, there are some major differences.
One such difference is that LMS plugins offer more advanced learner assessment and engagement tools such as quizzes, assignments, tests, and gamification features. Separate membership plugins, on the other hand, often offer advanced access control features that don’t typically come with LMS plugins. In some cases, you find plugins like AccessAlly and LifterLMS cater well to both LMS and membership management needs.
In some situations, you might even want to pair them together. In others, you might actually need more member features than LMS ones.
So, here are some best WordPress membership plugins we recommend, which you can pair, if needed, with many of the LMS plugins in this list.
Memberpress is first a membership plugin, but they have recently added LMS features called Memberpress courses. Because it’s still in its early development, Memberpress courses are not as developed as other LMS plugins in this list.
Their course builder is built on top of the WordPress block editor, which makes it super easy to build your course modules.
Memberpress’ premium version offers membership features like none-other and advanced access to control multi-tier courses. It also integrates with LearnDash, WP Courseware, and TutorLMS.
Which of the WordPress LMS Plugins are Right for You?
Choosing the right LMS plugins begins with assessing your needs and ending with what essential features the plugins have to offer. Then, finally, make the most informed decision. As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of key features you can expect any of the plugins in this list to have. But it’s the unique features, useability, and pricing that make influence your final decision.
So here are some recommendations base on where you are in your journey or your individual use case.
So, there it is. You can’t go wrong with any of the WordPress LMS plugins on this list. Any number of them could be more than enough for your needs. Once you’ve honed down on the essential features you need, you can assess that against the key features these LMS plugins offer and then choose your best LMS plugin.
This content was originally published here.