In this field report on using the LearnDash learning management system (LMS), I’d like to take you through some of the logic behind our choices as we set up a comprehensive piano chords e-learning course and hopefully inspire other media makers. (You can also check out April’s free piano lessons).
We chose to host our course on our own WordPress site and install the LearnDash plugin. The decision really comes down to the benefits of owning your own platform and the future opportunities to setting up affiliate channels. This is a real improvement and not having to rely on the likes Treehouse, Udemy or Teachable means you get to keep more of the profits. Some platforms could potentially change their policies in the future too. Having said that I’m sure there are plenty of instances where a these all in one solution with less moving parts, and potentially less of a learning curve may have advantages.
If you are simply looking to add some badges or add gamification elements to existing pages there are lots of other WordPress plugin solutions.
One gamification Plugin I am fond of which allows you to create unique games, quizzes and multimedia solutions, is from https://h5p.org/.
And here is what the finished product looks like
I downloaded their plugin and created this and other gamified elements for a recent post on ethics in gamification.
The plan is also to use badges to keep the levels of and engagement up. LearnDash come with its own system for accumulating points as you work through activities. The idea is to introduce the concept that points are in play early. Awarding points for signing on with an accompanying email will let users get involved. We are using Badge OS for LearnDash. Here is a video.
What is LearnDash for WordPress
LearnDash is an LMS (Learning Management System) that plugs into WordPress with a few clicks once you have purchased and downloaded a plugin file. You can then easily convert your site into a learning space much like many other brands, universities, and entrepreneurs have. You can then create interactive and engaging courses and lessons and add things like quizzes, lesson timers, sequencing and categories, depending on your preferences. You need to pay for at least your WordPress hosting Website and LearnDash yearly subscription to use it.
Making an online course using Learndash is not too difficult even for a relative newbie to some of the more obscure nuances of WordPress like myself. Whether you want to create a site for workplace training, a school or university, or an entrepreneurial enterprise like us LearnDash helps you host your course.
Choosing a Host
We are looking to create a quality cost-efficient means of hosting which meant we could deliver maximum value to the people who buy our courses.
My misguided idea that hosts don’t really matter if you don’t have a lot of traffic yet was shattered in this project. Skimping on hosting really started to have a dramatic effect as the number of pages on the site grew before prelaunch. Thankfully we were able to shift hosts to SiteGround which also affordable but quite a lot faster. Siteground was recommended by Learndash and a lot of the research we did offer supporting evidence that Siteground was indeed a good choice for us. Even though we are looking to save money where we can we don’t want to offer anything but speedy user experience and cheap hosts don’t cut it.
Video Hosting for LearnDash
We were all set up to go using Vimeo to host our videos thinking YouTube would not look professional enough. There are plenty of videos on YouTube talking about the different hosting options supported by LearnDash but in the end, we went for cheap. The idea of forking out an extra ongoing expense was a key consideration here for us But we are happy with the way YouTube integrates and you can change your settings in YouTube to a suite or remove ads. If we decide in the future that YouTube does not look professional enough we can always swap out the videos later.
A good feature of LearnDash is that it can tie completing a video to course progression.
We chose to use the Astra Learndash theme. It is a free theme and it is recommended by LeanDash along with another more costlier option.
Learndash comes integrated with E-commerce few solutions and way to buy courses including Paypal and Stripe. Stripe is a neat but simple way to simply pay by credit card and we prefer it over PayPal. Potentially the direction we will take from here is to integrate Cartflows with Woo Commerce from here because it will provide professional landing page and user experience on checkout.
But integrating the Woo Commerce extension could help us to sell other products in the future. We are not at this stage yet and our course is now getting finalised but this looks the likely course of action for us.
Over time I’ll attempt to provide updates on the progress of the course. If there are aspects you would like that I cover please drop a note in the form below.