6 of the Best WordPress LMS Plugins for eCourse Websites

Posted on June 2, 2017 by in Resources | 38 comments

6 of the Best WordPress LMS Plugins for eCourse Websites

WordPress is a powerful platform, but out of the box it’s not set up for creating a Learning Management System (LMS) for your educational establishment. However, there are plenty of plugins available that can transform your site into an online classroom.

In this article, we’ll firstly tell you about what LMS plugins can offer you, then we’ll introduce you to six of the best options you can choose from, delving into what each one can offer you. Class is now in session!

An Introduction to Learning Management System (LMS) Plugins

In short, an LMS is a platform that enables you to manage a kind of online classroom. Depending on the tool you’re using, you’ll be able to create classes, enroll students, set up tests, and much more.

An example of an online educational website.

Naturally, not every website needs these features, so LMSs are kind of a niche product. However, they can be incredibly handy if you’re creating a school website or setting up an educational service. Plus, some WordPress LMS plugins will even enable you to charge for your classes, which means you can use them as a way to generate income.

The only downside to using these kinds of tools in our opinion is that (for the most part) they aren’t compatible with each other. It means if you decide to switch to a different system, you’ll probably need to start from scratch – so choose carefully!

The 6 Best WordPress LMS Plugins for eCourse Websites

There are plenty of WordPress LMS plugins to choose from, but we’ve narrowed our choice down to these six based on their overall user experience, how often they’re updated, and their popularity with users. Plus, they should pose no problems to Divi users since they just add new functionality to your site instead of overhauling its style.

1. CoursePress Pro

The CoursePress Pro plugin.

CoursePress Pro is one of many plugins included with a subscription to WPMU DEV, and it’s one of the most polished options on this list. This tool offers you nearly all of the features you’ll need to set up an online learning system, including custom courses, quizzes, and discussion boards.

Best of all, you can choose whether to automate the grading procedure or handle it manually. For example, quizzes can be entirely automated, which means you could handle a large number of students without breaking a sweat.

The only downside to this plugin is that a membership to WPMU DEV doesn’t come cheap. At $49 per month, we can only recommend it if you’re really committed to creating an online learning website.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to share multiple types of materials with your students, including audio, text, and custom courses.
  • Includes a discussion board feature.
  • Offers both free and paid courses.
  • Lets you create custom quizzes.
  • Provides over 13 payment gateways for course payments.

Price: $49 per month | More Information

2. LearnDash

The LearnDash plugin.

LearnDash is a premium LMS plugin that is used by multiple higher-learning institutions, such as the University of Florida and the University of Michigan. The plugin offers plenty of features to help you set up online courses, and it also enables you to offer certificates to your students.

What really sets LearnDash apart from other options is the sheer amount of payment options it offers. Many other LMS tools only support one-time payments or subscriptions for their courses, but LearnDash is much more flexible. For example, you can set up custom membership terms, specify discounts, and even create course bundles.

Key Features:

  • Create multiple types of courses including tiered classes, timed lessons, and so on.
  • Enables you to give out custom certificates to your students.
  • Lets you set up discussion boards for users to talk about their classes.
  • Gives you the ability to award course points and use them as prerequisites for more advanced lessons.
  • Enables you to monetize your courses using one-time payments and subscriptions, or bundle multiple classes to make them more attractive.

Price: $129 for a year-long license | More Information

3. Sensei

The Sensei extension.

Sensei isn’t a WordPress plugin per se (it’s a WooCommerce extension), but the process for using it is the same. The upside is that if you’re familiar with the e-commerce platform, you should feel right at home using this extension and managing course payments.

As far as learning is concerned, Sensei enables you to create custom lessons and quizzes for your students. You also get access to simple analytics to keep track of their performance, which should enable you to spot if any of your users are having problems with your courses.

Key Features:

  • Lets you create courses using custom post types called ‘lessons’.
  • Provides prerequisites for more advanced courses, so your users can keep track of their progress.
  • Includes analytics to keep track of your student’s performance.
  • Lets you grade quizzes either manually or automatically.
  • Enables you to charge for courses using WooCommerce’s payment features.

Price:  $129 for a year-long license | More Information

4. WP Courseware

The WP Courseware plugin.

WP Courseware is a unique LMS in the sense that it enables you to create courses using a simple drag-and-drop system. Each class can contain as many modules and quizzes as you want, and you can also re-order these too.

If you’re a fan of quizzes, WP Courseware will enable you to indulge in setting up complex tests using timers and a broad range of question types. In fact, you can even limit the number of times that students can re-take tests, so they won’t be able to force their way through without hitting the books.

The only downside to WP Courseware is its lack of payment processing out of the box. Instead, you’ll need to set up a separate solution. It’s not a deal-breaker per se, but it is disappointing – particularly for a premium LMS plugin.

Key Features:

  • Provides a simple drag-and-drop builder to create courses.
  • Lets you schedule your content so users can’t access it all at once.
  • Enables you to create custom quizzes using timers, multiple question types, and even limit the number of times a student can re-take them.
  • Provides a way to keep track of each student’s performance and reward them with certificates.
  • Gives you the ability to set up course prerequisites, so students will need to take specific classes before advancing to more complex ones.

Price: $99 for a one-year license valid for two sites | More Information

5. LearnPress

The LearnPress plugin.

So far we’ve focused entirely on premium WordPress LMS plugins, but they aren’t the only game in town. LearnPress, for example, is a free plugin that offers practically all of the functionality you’ll need to set up an online learning website.

As far as features go, LearnPress doesn’t stray much from our previous choices. It supports multiple courses, student enrollment, paid lessons, and it even comes with its own set of analytics tools.

LearnPress also integrates with BuddyPress, which is an ideal solution to foster discussion among your students. The only downside to this plugin is that some advanced features are only available as premium add-ons, such as scheduled lessons and integration with a few payment gateways.

Key Features:

  • Lets you create courses and enable students to enroll for them.
  • Enables you to offer your lessons either for free, or charge for enrollment using multiple payment gateways.
  • Gives you the ability to keep track of how many students each class contains and their performance averages.
  • Lets you integrate a BuddyPress-based board to stay in touch with your students.
  • Provides add-ons to extend the plugin’s functionalities.

Price: Free with premium add-ons | More Information

6. LifterLMS

The LifterLMS plugin.

Last but not least, we’ve got LifterLMS – another free plugin to balance things out. Similarly to LearnPress, this tool is right up there with its premium counterparts as far as features are concerned.

Using LifterLMS, you can create as many courses as you want, including classes with specific prerequisites. The plugin also enables you to reward your users with badges for custom achievements, and use forums to foster engagement.

As far as new features go, LifterLMS enables you to stay in touch with your students via email. For example, you can set periodic reminders for users that haven’t completed any work for a while, so they don’t forget about their courses. It’s the LMS equivalent of an abandoned cart follow-up, and a great unique touch.

Finally, it’s worth noting this plugin also offers several premium add-ons, most of which are integrations with payment gateways and email marketing services.

Key Features:

  • Lets you create as many courses as you want, including classes with prerequisites.
  • Enables you to reward your students with custom badges and certificates.
  • Includes an option to send reminder emails to students that haven’t completed any coursework for a while.
  • Lets you integrate a forum to keep students more engaged by fostering discussions.
  • Enables you to charge for your courses using multiple payment gateways.
  • Provides a number of add-ons to help extend the plugin’s functionality.

Price: Free with premium add-ons | More Information 

Conclusion

WordPress isn’t lacking in features out of the box, but running an online classroom requires very specific functionality, such as creating classes and tests. With the right plugin, you can add all of these features and even charge for your services, which can bring in money to improve your courses.

In this piece, we’ve outlined six of the best WordPress LMS plugins available. Let’s recap them:

  1. CoursePress Pro: A highly-polished option that supports automatic grading.
  2. LearnDash: This premium plugin offers a broad range of payment options for your students.
  3. Sensei: The best WooCommerce-based LMS available.
  4. WP Courseware: This plugin offers a lot of features to customize your quizzes.
  5. LearnPress: A free LMS plugin that integrates with BuddyPress.
  6. LifterLMS: This free tool enables you to stay in touch with your students using follow-up emails.

Do any of these WordPress LMS plugins meet your needs, and if so why? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

Article image thumbnail by Elegant Solution / shutterstock.com

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38 Comments

  1. Wonderful summary of choices – would be great for a follow up series on how to style the plugins to look better with Divi. I’ve used WPCourseWare (love it) and LearnDash (love it too) but out of the box styling for both with Divi looks a bit boring 🙂

    If ET is looking for ideas – Styling for popular plugins like BuddyPress/BBPress, Forms, etc. would be appreciated.

    • John Hughes

      Thanks! If you want to share your ideas for future versions of Divi, feel free to drop us a line in the forums (https://www.elegantthemes.com/forum/). 🙂

  2. Learndash now has the ability to implement H5P within lessons too.

    • LearnDash can only run H5P when you install either the Grasblade LRS with the GrassBlade xAPI Companion plugin, or install the Tin-Canny plugin. All three are for purchase.

      LifterLMS, with LifterLMS xAPI, also implements H5P into courses, lessons, quizzes and questions – along with any xAPI e-learning courses (uploaded or linked).
      LifterLMS can also report xAPI records for e-learning courses that were not published for an LMS (i.e. published for web only).

      LifterLMS links competencies to courses, lessons, quizzes, questions and uploaded or linked e-learning.
      xAPI reporting and Competency Management are able to be turned on or off for every item.
      No other WordPress LMS provides Competency Management, lets you select xAPI reporting at the page level or adds xAPI features to non LMS published e-learning, in-fact most commercial LMS’s don’t provide these premium features.

      Regarding LearnDash, I have a great appreciation for it as well, but I’m not sure where you got your information. Assigning courses to a group does not make it a membership plugin.
      Beyond this ability, LearnDash does not come with any Membership features at all and would need a membership plugin to be used. It does come with Groups management which is, in itself, a great powerful LearnDash feature, but groups are not memberships.

      • Dennis,
        I have used both LearnDash and LifterLMS for clients. I totally agree with your comments. LearnDash needs a membership plugin (wishlist member, memberpress, paid membership pro etc) to provide membership features. LifterLMS offers enough membership features that an additional plugin is not necessary for some of my clients.

        All of these plugins (LMS and Membership) offer different feature profiles and do a great job. I feel it is important to dig deep into the features and use the plugin suite that are best for you (or your client’s) needs. I have had success with all the plugins I have mentioned, but I can tell you that there is not “one perfect combination to rule them all”.

        The other thing that I have found essential is the user community. There plugins are very deep and feature rich. Without a great community to offer support it can take a long time to really get what you want. I would look for a community that is as helpful and welcoming as the Divi groups.

    • Wow! Really? +1!

  3. Really nice summary you have here John!

    I like how you have included a succinct list of ‘key features’ for each one – I think people will really appreciate that (as well as the quick recap at the end).

    I must say that Divi & LearnDash make a great combination for attractive course experience. It goes without saying that WordPress has really forced the entire learning management industry to “up” their game. 🙂

    Kindly,
    Justin

    • Thanks Justin for maintaining LearnDash. Sincerely I used it once on Divi and it was great and features-rich. But I discovered that if I need to have a membership setup where I can add my student privately to the courses without the public knowing would take additional plugins and advance tweaking by WP developer. But got wind of another nifty LMS with promise for membership, now I’m at the cross road…

    • John Hughes

      Thanks, Justin! We appreciate your insights. 🙂

  4. does it compatible with divi theme?

    • Which LMS are you asking about?

      If an LMS is a theme, the answer will (most-likey) be no, since Divi is a theme and the LMS would be a theme (like WPLMS), 2 themes cannot be loaded at the same time.

      The LMS must be a plugin to work with other themes (like Divi)

    • John Hughes

      If you have any questions about Divi’s compatibility with a specific LMS plugin, you can contact us directly (https://www.elegantthemes.com/contact/) and we’ll do our best to help you out. 🙂

  5. Don’t forget WPLMS! We use it with most of our clients and it’s got a ton of features.

    • John Hughes

      Hi Lawrence, thanks for the suggestion! 🙂

    • WPLMS is a theme. It cannot be loaded with Divi because you cannot load 2 themes at the same time.

  6. I stay with LearnDash, I’ve seen their evolution, I’m sure they still have not reached their maximum expression, they have a super team led by Justin F. that is outstanding. Greetings people from ET.

    • John Hughes

      Thanks for your comment, Alex. 🙂

  7. Thanks John. I and my team are about to launch Divi into schools and been the operations guy, I know at some point we might need LMS to automate and streamline the courses. Actually I’ve used CoursePro and LearnDash in the past. I love CoursePro course creation ui/ux but the downside is that doesn’t work smoothly with Divi theme out of the box because she got her own template shipped in. Though this doesn’t affect creating good courses but it limit designing your course page the way you want. Also, the currency symbol doesn’t give room for other currency to be easily swapped. For LearnDash, I bought LD in-lieu of WPCourseware and I really do have a nice time tinkering through all the titanic features and was able to create courses, lessons and quizzes for a medical institution that need this features. However, there was no grid at that time so was limited to just one list view. Have not used the present one now course I’m considering LifterLMS for the membership option shipped in.

    • John Hughes

      You’re welcome! And thanks for your input. 🙂

  8. Thanks John, great contribution!

    It would be great if you can mention which one has the best integration with Divi. That would be extremely helpful and cool!

    • John Hughes

      You’re welcome, Daniel! If you’re wondering how a specific plugin integrates with Divi, feel free to drop a note in the forums (https://www.elegantthemes.com/forum/) to see if other users have any insights.

  9. No mention of WPLMS? Is by far the best LMS I have developed on WordPress for clients

    • WPLMS is a theme and Divi is a theme. You cannot load 2 themes at one time, that is why it is not mentioned (I assume).

    • John Hughes

      Hi James, Dennis is correct. Our goal in this article was to focus on plugins that could be integrated with any WordPress theme (including Divi!) 🙂

  10. Well, Sensei is the best for me

    • John Hughes

      Thanks for your input. 🙂

  11. First of all, great list John 🙂

    I have used LearnDash, it’s one of the best LMS plugin for any course related website and also Thanks for sharing info about other amazing plugins in this post.

    • John Hughes

      You’re welcome! Thanks for the suggestion. 🙂

  12. Thanks for including CoursePress Pro in this round-up!

    Just wanted to mention that we use this plugin to power The Academy, our online school for learning about WordPress at WPMU DEV. We’ve got hundreds of students enrolled in our courses, so CoursePress Pro is ready to handle anything!

    • John Hughes

      You’re welcome, Raelene! Thanks for sharing your experience with that plugin. 🙂

      • Yeh, awe3some mention, thankyou 🙂

        Also, you can get it (and keep it) entirely for free with our 30 day free trial!

        https://premium.wpmudev.org/#pricing

        So you only really have to pay the $49/m if you like our other services ‘n plugins ‘n stuff (or upgrades down the line)

  13. Perhaps Elegant Themes should design one? I would love to have something that I can trust for clients. I am seeing a large amount of small businesses like yoga teachers and coaches wanting an online paid classroom. I am sending them to Sensei or Namastream because they can’t afford the cost of LMS designed website and frequent updates.

    • John Hughes

      We’d suggest trying out a couple of the suggestions mentioned in the article. Both LifterLMS and LearnPress are excellent free options, for example. If you’re still struggling to find the right solution, ask around in our forums (https://www.elegantthemes.com/forum/) to see if other users have additional ideas. 🙂

  14. Does anyone know how to use the Divi builder in LearnPress? When I create lessons, I can’t activate the builder as I normally would in a regular post (e.g. the big purple button.)

    Am I missing something?

  15. Hello and thank you for all of this information. We are looking for an online platform that will accept video course instruction lessons ranging between 10-15 minutes per segment. We also desire quiz and written final exam options. Our quickbooks does not incorporate well with woo commerce so we are working on another payment gateway. Any suggestions? We desire to feed one course lesson per day and then give students access to all lessons after completion of each course.

    Thank you in advance for your help!

  16. Hi John,

    LearnPress and LifterLMS are seems to be free. I am planning to start one of them for my upcoming LMS website.

    However I am not able to find any wordpress plugin for curation of links. Please let me know if you know any such plugin.

    Regards,

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