LearnDash is a learning management system that is used by many universities and other educational institutions to create professional and user-friendly online courses. If you have built a structured course and would like to find a way to get it online, with a step by step process, that is locked behind paywalls etc. Then you should definitely be looking into using an LMS to take care of it. LearnDash allows you to create multi-tiered courses on any WordPress website using a premium plugin. LearnDash works with the majority of themes on WordPress and can be used on multiple site networks.
Before we go any further into how LearnDash works, I’ll go ahead and talk about the pricing.
Now this LMS isn’t cheap, but the service that it provides will allow you to make more money in the long run if your course content is valuable. There are 3 pricing options to choose from, coming in at $159 for the basic package, $189 for the plus package and $329 for the pro. This is a one time purchase but one thing to bare in mind is that you only receive 1 year of support and updates from the date of purchase. You can read all about what the support licence provides you with here. The main differences between the packages are the number of sites that you can use the plugin on at once and an add-on called “ProPanel”. This gives you access to a dashboard that shows you real-time activity on your courses and provides lots of different tracking data, to help you understand how your courses are performing.
After you’ve purchased LearnDash you will need to login into your Learndash support account to get your plugin. Follow these steps to add the plugin to your site:
- Login to LearnDash Support and head to “My Account”.
2. Open up the My Downloads drop-down menu and download the plugin.
3. Head to your WordPress site and go plugins –> add new
4. Click “Upload Plugin” at the top of the page and choose the file that you have downloaded.
5. Click ” Install Now” which will begin the installation.
6. Activate the plugin.
Once you’ve installed the plugin, it’s time to activate your support license. To do this you first need to head back into LMS Support and get your license key which is found in the “My Account” section. Copy this key and head back to your website and to the settings area of the Learndash Plugin.
Once you’re in here, head to the “LMS License” tab. This is where you will enter the email address that you used to sign into your LearnDash support and the license key that you copied earlier. Once these are entered click on the “update license” Button.
When you see a little message pop up telling you that your license is valid you’re ready to start using Learndash.(If you chose a package that came with ProPanel the process is the exact same with this download as well)
First I’ll tell you a bit about each of the features:
- Courses – This is the highest level in the courses tiered structure. In here is where you would put the name of the course and write a short introduction as to what it’s about.
- Lessons – The lessons section is just under the courses section on the tiered scale. If for example, your course was about “how to bake a cake” then your lessons may be the type of cakes that your baking “chocolate truffle” and “strawberry cheesecake”.
- Topics – This is the last tier on Learndash that are related to each lesson. If we are following the previous an allergy then your topics would be things like “equipment need” and “ingredients”.
- Quizzes – The quizzes section of Learndash is where you can test those who are taking your course by asking them questions about the topics they are learning about to both help them notice how they’re progressing and allows you to understand their progress.
- Certificates – If you want to provide those who are taking your course with a certificate at for quizzes or at the end, you can do it in this section.
- Assignments – You can ask people to perform tasks and upload them as assignments that will appear in this section.
- Groups – You can assign your courses and users to different groups, making it easier to control the access to your courses
- Group Administration – The leaders of groups have extra benefits, such as checking users performance etc. that can be accessed from this section.
- Reports – You can see reports based on users that have taken your courses.
- Settings – The settings tab is where you set up payment methods and set preferences etc
How to link your courses, lessons and topics.
Learndash’s tiered system is a great way to map out your courses, making it very easy for the user to navigate through everything your course has to offer and can be used to help introduce mini topics into your course.
First, you need to create a course. This is just like adding a page or post to WordPress. Write a brief description of what your course is going to entail and then publish the page.
Course Materials – If your course has any external materials that the users might need for your course.
Course Price Type – You can choose what kind of pricing system you are using with the course. You can choose between Open, closed, free, buy now, and recurring. I would suggest setting this to closed when you first start adding your lessons and topics so no one can gain access during the building process.
Course Access List – This will fill up automatically with the user ID’s of the people you have given access to the course.
Sort Lesson By – You can sort the lessons by title, date and menu order. I would suggest menu order so you can choose whichever order you’d like.
Sort Lesson Direction – Choose whether your lessons are in ascending or descending order.
Course Prerequisites – You can enable this option if you want people to complete other courses before they can move onto this one.
Course Prerequisites Compare – You can choose whether the users have to complete just one of the prerequisites or all of them before taking this course.
Course Points – You have the option of adding a point system to your courses. With points, you can select how many you get for completing this course and how much you need to begin taking it. This allows you to implement your own point scoring system.
Disable Lesson Progression – This will disable the lesson order feature allowing the user to open any lesson they’d like
Expire Access – If your planning on the course expiring at some point then this is how you’d set a date for it.
Hide Course Content Table – If you don’t want those without access to your courses to be able to see the list of lessons that are involved, then you would use this option to hide it.
Associated Certificate – You can link one of your certificates to the course, which the user can view after completing your course.
Next, you will want to add a lesson. Again this is just like adding a post but here you will want to go into detail about what this lesson and now for the linking part.
The areas highlighted above are the key points you need to pay attention to. First of all is the associated course tab, whenever you create a lesson you should scroll down to the bottom of the page and assign it to one of your courses. Now when a user opens up your course they will see a clickable lesson at the bottom of it. Next is the “post attributes” order option. If you are going to add multiple lessons to one course then you will want to order which comes first and which comes last. This starts from the number “0” but I would suggest using “1” as a starting point to make things easier for you.
The other settings here allow you to add little extra elements to your lessons:
Forced Lesson Timer – You can set a minimum time that people have to spend on a lesson before they can mark it as complete.
Upload Assignment – If you want to set people assignments for your courses then you can set up an upload button for the user to add their work. You can then further change the settings to automatically approve the assignments and automatically assign points.
Sample lesson – If you want this lesson to be made freely available to everyone then you can check this box.
Make Lesson Visible after X amount of days – This is quite helpful if you don’t want someone to have access to everything in the course the moment they sign up, here you can drip feed the lessons to the users.
Make Lesson Visible On specific date – You can also choose to set a specific date that your lesson goes live which again this is a way to drip feed your content.
Next up is your topics. These are very similar to your lessons set up, add all of your topics content and scroll down to the bottom to see it’s settings.
First you will want to choose the course that your topic is associated with, then choose the lesson that it’ll be linked to and don’t forget to choose the post order. What I suggest we do now is carry the fought onwards. You have a forced topic timer just like on the lessons settings and you can enable assignment uploading.
Now you have created your course, lessons and topics you can also add a quiz. The quizzes section is definitely the most complicated part of LearnDash but once you get a grip of how to set these up, the possibilities are endless.
To start with, you need to create your first quiz and publish it, before you can make the questions. However, I would suggest that you have a look at the basic quiz settings which I’ll explain below:
Repeats – You can set the number of times that the user can retake the quiz. If left blank then there is no limit.
Certificate Threshold – This is the minimum score that you’d have to get to be awarded a certificate for your course (This is between 0.1 to 1 with 1 being 100%).
Passing Percentage – This is the percentage that a user needs to hit to pass your quiz.
The associating tabs are exactly same as those on the lessons and topics pages. This gives you the freedom to add a quiz anywhere within your courses.
Next up is the advanced quiz options which are further below.
All of these settings are mainly preference based, it is a good idea to just work your way through all of these and make sure you’re happy with each. Once you’ve finished with these it’s time to publish your Quiz and start creating your questions.
Now that your Quiz is published, you should see a new row of tabs showing at the top of the page. These settings are all specific to the work of this quiz, it doesn’t have anything to do with any of your other quizzes.
First up, is your questions. These are going to be the main substance of your quiz, there are a lot of options you can choose from here.
Once you go to add your questions you’ll be taking to the settings just like the screenshot above. I’ll go through and explain each of the sections:
Title – This is the title of your quiz, you may have chosen to hide this back in the advanced settings which is why this setting is optional.
Points – The points section is where you choose how many points are awarded per question, the user will get receive points for each right answer they provide.
Category – You have the option create categories for your questions, this is a good way to group certain question topics.
Questions – This is where you write out your question, this is written in a simple text box. On top of this, you can add a correct and incorrect answer message for the user to see.
Answers – The answers section is the area where you select what type of question you’ll be using. There is plenty of options to choose from which includes an upload option for users.
The certificates section is where you can give the student a reward for completing your course. This is a completely optional part of any course that you create so if you don’t plan on providing a passing certificate you don’t have to.
The group’s section is where you can group users to certain courses. It is a good way to keep track of what people have access to what courses. There is also an option to make some users group leaders and admins. What this means is they will have access to the results of the other user within the course, this is helpful if you want to delegate tasks such as checking and marking work to other people.
The reports section allows you to export all of the user’s course and quiz data. This is good if you want to collect everyone’s results on a spreadsheet for example. You can also view your course sales in this section by clicking on the “transaction” tab.
The settings section is pretty straight forward. This is the area where you enter your license key for your product. There is also a few other bits and pieces you can change here such as including admin results within the reports etc. Here is however is where you would set up your PayPal account to receive payments for your courses which are quite an important part of your setup process. You can also change the default labels that are given to each of the titles. For example, you can change the “courses” title or the “lessons” title to anything you’d like.
LearnDash is one of the best tools on the market for selling your online courses. It’s extremely user-friendly interface makes it great for both you and the user that are setting up the courses. With the addition of quizzing options and the ability to give out certificates, this becomes an ultimate course creating system.