A Learning Management System (LMS) is a great way to create and manage courses and instructional material because of the great virtual learning environment that lets students choose their preferred courses, attempt quizzes, and submit assignments.
In the case of a WordPress-powered virtual learning platform, the effectiveness of the LMS is highly dependent upon the WordPress LMS plugin that powers the solution. The plugin adds the LMS-related functionalities to the WordPress website so that you can create and manage courses directly from the WordPress dashboard.
In this article, I will take you through the best WordPress LMS plugins that you can use to create your own virtual classrooms and e-learning platforms.
- Pros and Cons of Using A WordPress LMS
- Features to Look For a WordPress LMS Plugin
- How Much Does It Cost to Build a WordPress LMS Site
- WordPress LMS and Performance
- What Are the Best LMS Plugins for WordPress?
- Final Words!
Pros and Cons of Using A WordPress LMS Plugin
How easy is it to manage an LMS site built on WordPress? Well, the best way to determine that is to compare WordPress with a native CMS, such as Moodle. Here is a table that summarises the comparison, so you can make a better decision for your LMS site before you start using a WordPress LMS plugin.
|Ease of Use|
Ease of Use
One reason behind WordPress’s popularity is its simplicity. Even the most basic of beginners can use it to launch their sites with ease and speed. For an LMS site, you don’t have to do much except for installing an LMS plugin like LifterLMS. This will handle everything involved in running a successful learning management system. It does have a learning curve, but that too can be dealt with through a multitude of online resources such as WordPress blogs and tutorials.
While WordPress is free, launching an LMS site on WordPress is not free of all costs. But the fact that WordPress is open-source makes it extremely convenient for users to build their LMS sites from scratch with minimal cost. The free plugins available on the WordPress repository are particularly great if you are just starting your LMS site. Apart from that, a number of providers offer affordable plugins for various integrations such as emails, social media, and bots, which further helps reduce the cost of running your LMS site.
WordPress’s classic editor was extremely popular with users because it was easy to use and required very little coding. Since the latest updates, the classic editor has been replaced with the even simpler Gutenberg editor, which uses block editing that is very similar to the page builders’ experience.
Today, there are more than 40,000 free plugins in the WordPress repository and a million more on marketplaces such as Envato and CodeCanyon. From emails to social media, these plugins cover almost any integration that you need on your LMS store. The open-source nature of the CMS allows third-party developers to create cheaper and more effective solutions that are readily available.
If you gaze across the WordPress user base, you will find a small-time blogger on one end and a multimillion-dollar corporate site that caters to thousands of visitors every day on the other. This shows how WordPress allows you to start small and helps you grow 10x and even more.
WordPress is the target of multiple cyber attacks on an annual basis. But that doesn’t stop people from choosing it to build extremely data-sensitive websites. This is because WordPress is one of the most secure platforms around, using security plugins such as Malcare, Sucuri, and more. Apart from that, managed hosting providers like Cloudways offer multiple layers of firewalls that protect the LMS application and the server.
WordPress doesn’t have much in the way of “out of the box” features, but it does have multiple integration tools and plugins that allow users to install analytics on their LMS site, like Google Analytics. Other CMSes and platforms offer their own analytics, but this is often limited and requires you to buy a premium to unlock deeper insights for your LMS site.
Features to Look For a WordPress LMS Plugin
Before I dive into the collection of LMS plugins, let’s take a look at the factors you need to consider before you finally choose one for your project. While almost all LMS plugins offer a similar feature set, every good WordPress LMS plugin comes with the following key features.
The LMS plugin must enable you to create courses easily and structure them the way you want. It’s even better if the plugin comes with pre-made course templates that do much of the work for you and let you take them live within hours.
It is important that you restrict courses for students so they don’t progress to the next milestone without completing the prerequisites. A good WordPress LMS plugin simplifies content restriction according to several conditions.
Speaking of restricting content, quizzes, and assignments is a great way to restrict students from moving forward to the next course milestone. LMS plugins let you create quizzes and set passing criteria for each quiz.
It is essential for educators to track the progress of individual students to see where they need help or where they are performing better than the others.
Assignments are a great way to gauge whether students understood the course material. An ideal WordPress LMS plugin has streamlined assignment submission options along with a proper deadline setting.
LMS plugins also let you send out test results and assignments grades through automated emails. This saves a lot of time if you have several batches going on at the same time.
You must ensure that the LMS plugin you choose can integrate the payment gateways you are most comfortable with.
Students are motivated by rewards. Your LMS should have rewarding capabilities that allow you to send out badges and certificates to your students.
Provide your students with a space to discuss lectures, exams, and solutions to engage them in a productive manner.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a WordPress LMS Site?
Building a WordPress LMS site has the potential to cost you thousands of dollars. However, it also depends on what your objectives are. For example, if you intend to run your LMS site as a full-fledged business, then it only makes sense for you to invest in better tools that may cost more.
Here are a few factors that you need to invest in to build a better WordPress LMS Site:
- Managed Cloud – Starts from $12/month
Managed LMS WordPress Hosting Starting from $10/month.
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- LifterLMS – Starts from $120/Year
- LaunchPad – $120/year
- SEO – $89/ year
- Social Media – $20
- Backup – $42/ year
- Cache – Breeze Cache Plugin comes free with Cloudways
WordPress LMS and Performance
One of the most important factors that make a successful WordPress LMS site is its performance, which includes load times and uptime. At any given time, multiple users will try to access your courses or videos, which means concurrent users are higher than normal sites.
Your hosting provider is arguably the single most important factor in determining your LMS site’s performance. There are three most common server types that you will come across when deciding which hosting to go for; shared, dedicated, and cloud.
With a shared server, your server resources will be divided among other applications. A dedicated server is a complete opposite, meaning that your resources are not divided. Cloud servers are dedicated resources assigned to your application from a virtual server.
Shared servers might save you money but they’re not suitable for growth. As your LMS site grows, your concurrent users will grow as well. A shared environment is not secure enough nor is it able to handle huge requests.
Dedicated servers, on the other hand, are powerful servers but will cost you at least 10 times more. They are difficult to manage, and there is a high chance that you will be paying for resources that you are not utilizing since you can’t scale them up or down.
Cloud servers are affordable and yet are dedicated. They are scalable which means you can increase server resources when you need them, and then revert back to your original resources once the traffic spike is over. Cloud servers are designed for performance, which means they have high uptime. And because they are spread over a virtual network, they provide optimum performance for your LMS store.
What Are the Best LMS Plugins for WordPress?
Now that you know what to look for in a WordPress LMS plugin, let’s go through our list of the LMS plugins that you can use to set up virtual classrooms.
1. LearnDash – Starts from $199/Year
LearnDash is one of the best WordPress LMS plugins around that comes with a host of features enabling you to smoothly run your virtual classrooms. The plugin is used by a number of reputed educational institutes and popular bloggers such as WP Elevation that offer free and paid courses regularly.
This WordPress LMS plugin comes with its very own “Focus Mode” which is a distraction-free learning environment for helping students focus on the content and absorb key takeaways.
Key Plugin Features
LearnDash retains the top spot because of industry-standard features including:
- Powerful Course Builder
LearnDash comes with a drag-and-drop course builder that makes it super easy for instructors to create online courses. You can also reuse existing content and spin a course within hours rather than days.
The plugin enables you to create quizzes for your courses where you can choose eight different question types including multiple-choice, single answer, and fill-in blanks. You can also set a timer for the questions included in the quizzes.
- Drip Feed Content
With LearnDash, you have the choice of either releasing all the course content at once or scheduling the release of individual chapters. You can also set the time duration within which these chapters would be available to the students.
- Grade Books
You can create grade books for the students that sync automatically with all the quizzes and assignments. This means you won’t have to feed data manually and automate the grading process.
Once your students have completed a course, you can reward them with certificates created within the plugin. You can design and upload the design of your certificates and fill them with dynamic data.
Also Read: LearnDash WordPress LMS Plugin Review
2. LifterLMS – Starts from $99/year
LifterLMS is another popular WordPress LMS plugin that is highly intuitive and comes with a long list of amazing features. The plugin is ideal for beginners who are looking to create online courses or membership websites with private (or behind-a paywall) training videos.
LifterLMS caters to various industries including training and fitness, marketing and leadership, tech enthusiasts and coders, arts and musicians, and many more. Just like LearnDash, LifterLMS is also used by many big names in the industry including WP101 and Nick Usborne.
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Key Plugin Features:
As mentioned earlier, LifterLMS comes with powerful features such as:
- Course Builder
Just like LearnDash, LifterLMS comes with a drag and drop course builder that simplifies course creation. This feature is great for all users as they can speed up course creation and delivery without any major blockers.
- Student Dashboard
The dashboard allows both learners and teachers to track progress and stay organized and on track. The dashboard provides a simplified view of the grades, assignments, and deadlines.
- Lesson Downloads
You can offer downloadable content and extra reading material and worksheets related to your courses. Other than that, you can offer audio transcripts of your courses that students can easily download from your website.
- Discussion Areas
These dedicated areas allow students and teachers to discuss various key points of the lesson. You can create discussion areas in the comment section of a course or you can create a separate forum for students.
- Form Integrations
You can easily integrate forms on your website that will help you collect feedback on the courses. These forms will also help you collect assignments from your students.
Also Read: LifterLMS WordPress LMS Plugin Review
3. Good LMS – $32
Good LMS is a simple WordPress LMS plugin available on CodeCanyon for just $32, making it one of the more affordable options as compared to other premium plugins in this list. Being economical doesn’t mean that it compromises on features and functionalities.
The plugin comes with a great list of features that you will find useful when setting up your virtual classroom.
- Subsection and Sub Quizzes
You can create a subsection of a particular course that you want to offer and can even create a sub quiz of that section.
- Coupon Code
You can create coupon codes for your courses where you can offer discounts on your popular courses.
The plugin lets you create custom certificates for students that have completed a course.
- Commission Rate
Good LMS also enables you to set commission rates for different instructors that are teaching in your virtual classrooms.
- Course Rating
The rating feature lets learners rate your courses which you can later display on your website to gain the trust of new students.
Unlike the above two WordPress LMS plugins, LearnPress is completely free. The plugin is one of the simplest solutions to your LMS needs. The fact that it is free doesn’t mean it’s any less effective than other WordPress LMS plugins – in fact, it’s better than most.
Of course, there are premium add-ons that you would need to buy for additional features, but the basic ones are completely free. The plugin has over 80,000 active installs on the WordPress repository with a 4.5-star rating which makes it a highly trustable LMS plugin.
Key Plugin Features
- Seamless Integration
The plugin integrates with WooCommerce and other ecommerce extensions to let you easily sell your courses to the masses.
LearnPress also integrates with BuddyPress to let you communicate with your students through your forum.
- Create a Course
This free WordPress LMS plugin comes with an excellent course builder that provides a quick and easy way to develop courses with all the options you need.
- Students Wishlist
Students can create their wishlist on your website for the courses they wish to take in the future. This feature is a part of the free addon lists that you can download from the WordPress repo.
You can announce new courses or assignments deadlines through the announcement addon. This is a part of the premium add-ons that would need to purchase from the ThimPress website.
Also Read: LearnPress LMS WordPress Plugin Review
5. WP Courseware – Starts from $124.5/Year
WP Courseware is another great addition to this list of the best WordPress LMS plugins. The plugin is developed by Fly Plugins, the creators behind amazing products like S3 Media Maestro and Churnly for WP. WP Courseware may not be as popular as LearnDash or Lifter LMS but it is definitely as effective.
The plugin’s credibility can be judged by the fact that it is used by more than 21,000 customers. It is also one of the oldest LMS options in the market which makes them highly experienced in the field.
Here are some of its features:
WP Courseware integrates with several membership plugins and eCommerce plugins so you can sell courses to your members.
- Instructor Role
The plugin allows you to assign the “Instructor” role to any WordPress user you want. This feature is highly valuable for teams working from a single virtual classroom.
- Drip Content
This WordPress LMS plugin lets you release content gradually based on the timeline of the students.
- Video Content
The plugin is compatible with all video hosting solutions including YouTube, Wistia, and Vimeo.
Also Read: WP Courseware LMS WordPress Plugin Review
Sensei is not a separate WordPress LMS plugin but an extension of the WooCommerce plugin. If you have a WooCommerce store and want to sell courses on it as well, Sensei is the ideal plugin for you.
All you need to do is to install Sensei from the official WooCommerce website and activate it on your online store. Then, you can add courses, take quizzes simply from the WordPress dashboard.
Here are some of its amazing features:
- No Coding Required
Using this plugin, you can easily set up your LMS without the help of a developer. The plugin works with all WordPress themes seamlessly.
You can create quizzes and tests related to your courses using Sensei and can also set timers on each quiz.
You can track the number of students who have registered for a particular course and can even keep an eye on the grading and course completion.
- Developed By Automattic
Automattic is the company behind WordPress and WooCommerce and also behind Sensei which makes it a highly reliable LMS extension.
- Seamless Integration
Sensei integrates seamlessly with your WordPress website without any glitches or troubles. Just install the extension and you are good to go.
7. MasterStudy LMS
MasterStudy LMS is another free WordPress LMS plugin that comes with amazing features that makes it a sturdy competitor to any premium plugin out there. The plugin is developed by StyleMix Themes, a popular WordPress theme developer group.
The plugin is one of the new entrants in the market but it is growing at a rapid pace and already has more than 7000 active installs.
Here are its features:
- Easy to Install
The plugin is almost plug-and-play where you just download the plugin from the official WordPress repo, install it on your site and your LMS is ready.
The plugin integrates smoothly with PayPal and Stripe so you can receive payments for your courses easily.
You can set up different types of quizzes using this plugin and can also set timers to make them even more challenging.
- Message Board
Sensei allows you to set up a message board that lets students ask questions from their instructors related to different lectures.
8. Tutor LMS – Starts at $149/Year
Tutor LMS is made by the amazing team at Themeum, a renowned group of WordPress plugins and theme developers. The plugin claims to be the all-in-one solution for your learning management needs with features that are ideal for every type of user.
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This WordPress LMS plugin prides itself in its simple and easy-to-use interface which also makes it attractive for beginner and novice users.
Here are some of its features:
- Easy Learning Management
The plugin helps you keep track of your course and stay in charge of your virtual classroom through its easy learning management system.
- Reporting and Analytics
You can also check which course is performing better and which course is not so popular among learners. You can then make changes accordingly.
- Withdrawal Options
This WordPress LMS plugin helps you make withdrawals of all your earnings easily. You can set a minimum withdrawal amount and also enable bank transfer.
- Tutor Certificates
You can award customized certificates to high-performing students through this plugin. This feature comes as a paid addon.
- Drag & Drop Corse Builder
The plugin offers unlimited customization to your course with a user-friendly interface that makes it easier to create courses from scratch.
Also Read: Tutor LMS WordPress Plugin Review
9. Namaste! LMS
Namaste LMS is not a popular WordPress LMS plugin but that does not mean that you should not consider it for your LMS projects. It comes with an amazing feature set that is making it gain steady traction in the WordPress community.
The plugin also comes with a pro version with added features and functionalities and starts from just $67/year.
Here are some of its amazing features:
The plugin integrates with different extensions like WatuPro for quizzes and WooCommerce for selling courses.
- Unlimited number of courses
The free version comes with an unlimited number of courses which means you can create and upload as many courses as you want.
- Ease of Use
Creating and uploading a course is as easy as creating a post on WordPress. The plugin lets you use a similar interface as that of the classic editor.
- Badges and Certificates
The plugin comes with the badges functionality where you can reward your students with custom-made awards.
- Content Restriction
You can restrict content on your website for students who haven’t yet cleared the prerequisites.
The article covered the top nine WordPress LMS plugins along with their features and their pricing. It is evident that some are better than others but that doesn’t mean that you go for the best plugin without checking out the rest. You must carefully evaluate your requirements before finally choosing the WordPress LMS plugin for your online courses.
If you have used any other WordPress LMS plugin that isn’t mentioned in this list, feel free to let me know in the comments section.
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Passionate about technology, entrepreneurship, and marketing, Mansoor Ahmed Khan is in computing since he knows how to type on a keyboard. His daily life is rocked by his family, projects, and his screen. Probably in this order, he likes to be convinced at least. You can reach out to him at [email protected]