Do you want to create engaging online courses? Courses are a great way to share your expertise with others and potentially build a profitable business.
Many course creators choose to use a plugin because it allows them to create and manage online lessons and quizzes on their own WordPress website. Also, many of these tools make it easier to see how many students signed up for a course and track their progress through different interactive materials. Depending on the LMS (Learning Management System) plugin, more advanced features like marketing tools, messaging, and others might be available as well.
However, with so many options available, it can be hard to find the perfect LMS plugin that does everything you want – including the ability to sell courses easily. We’ve written this article so you can easily compare the best online course WordPress plugins for 2023 alongside their pros and cons.
Benefits of Using an LMS WordPress Plugin
There are a few different ways in which you can create, launch, and promote online courses. The one we personally recommend, because of its flexibility, is using an LMS plugin as part of your WordPress site.
One of the main advantages of using an LMS plugin is that it generally gives you full ownership of your content. Also, it will allow you to run everything directly from your website, which wouldn’t be the case if you used a third-party course host like Teachable or Udemy, as these are closed platforms.
Another important benefit of using a plugin is the fact that it will likely become cheaper to run your course in the long term, especially considering some platforms like Teachable will charge between 5-15% per transaction (not including processing fees).
WordPress, on the other hand, makes it very easy to customize the look of your site, add the appropriate branding to your courses, and keep all revenue without having to pay commission costs to external websites or course hosts. This is also why a WordPress LMS plugin is an accessible way of creating a course and the best choice for academies, schools, and businesses who want to use them to supplement their main products.
LMS Plugin Must-Have Features
Regardless of the LMS plugin you choose to create your online course, there are a few essential features you should definitely look for to make it easier to set up and manage your lessons. Below, you will find the top ones.
Being able to manage the content of your course is an essential feature any good LMS plugin should provide. This is essential because it will allow you to:
- Build online courses directly in the front end using your LMS.
- Edit all your course material easily, including adding and updating quizzes, assigning and reviewing homework, and more.
If you want your students to remain engaged in your content, you should consider using multimedia elements throughout the lessons. For instance:
- Offer some of your course materials via text, audio, and links.
- Take advantage of other media types, such as video and image hotspots, which allow you to add more learning material to image content.
Student Progress and Enrollment Data
It’s also ideal if your LMS plugin can help you understand everything about your students, for example:
- Enrollment rates, course progress, and performance.
- Revenue coming in from each of your courses.
- Data and analytics can help you gain insights and take action on ways to improve or even new courses you could offer.
Gathering statistics from an individual student or group of students will also be extremely useful for keeping track of how everyone’s doing and seeing if there are any opportunities for improvement or follow-up. For instance, you can:
- Keep track of individual and group progress, compare groups, and offer more personalized help.
- Get analytics and metrics to see the bigger picture and identify improvement gaps.
Content Drip and Access
If you use a content drip feature, you can make your content available according to the settings you want. This means you are able to:
- Provide students with content on determined days and schedule lessons.
- Choose, as a content creator, how long after enrollment the course content will be available. For example, students can access the first module the day after they sign up, a week later, a month from then, etc.
A good LMS plugin will let you plan and showcase quizzes to make your content more attractive. You can:
- Provide quizzes to your students and grade them with feedback.
- Offer a more personalized experience by allowing students to actively learn as they complete your course materials.
eCommerce Integration and Payment Gateways
The best LMS plugins will allow you to sell your online courses and support multiple modes of monetization. For instance:
- Integrate your plugin with WooCommerce.
- Support recurring subscriptions.
- Support specific payment options so your students have more options when paying for your courses.
Customer Support and Messaging
It’s also essential to be able to communicate with your students and participants directly so you can keep them engaged. With a good LMS plugin, you can:
- Offer personalized advice and/or request detailed feedback.
- Remind students about materials and important course milestones.
Other Important Features
Lastly, when picking LMS providers, you should also consider:
- The number of courses included in your chosen plan.
- The option to support unlimited courses if you’re limited to a single site.
- Advanced site tools and capabilities, such as timers, gamification, Elementor integration or integration with other page builders you may want to use, templates, easy digital downloads, plus an intuitive interface.
The Best WordPress LMS Plugins
If you want to create your own online course using a WordPress plugin, you’ll find there are a few good options to choose from. Let’s go through each of them and see how they compare in terms of the features we mentioned above…
1. Sensei LMS
Our first choice of LMS plugin is hands down Sensei LMS. Sensei LMS has native integration with WordPress, which is a major reason why course creators love to use it. For example, the plugin uses the Gutenberg block editor – which means the interface you use to create courses can be exactly the same one you would use to write a blog post!
Sensei LMS also has several package options, so you can choose the features you need. We recommend Sensei Pro for most course creators, as it integrates with WooCommerce so you can sell your courses as products. It also includes all the plugin’s premium features, which we explain in more depth below. With Sensei Pro, you get all Sensei Blocks, content drip and course access periods, and more!
This plugin supports several types of media and offers a course progress bar that can help students know where they are in the course. It even keeps them focused during the course with a Learning Mode that is compatible with any WordPress theme, so you can create a distraction-free environment for your lessons. A Full Site Editing feature was also released as part of WordPress 5.9. Learning Mode supports this feature, which means that you can customize the Learning Mode templates by adding, removing, or moving their blocks freely.
Other features you will find in Sensei LMS include:
- The ability to create branded certificates to give students on course completion, so you can provide some extra motivation for those in the process (with Sensei LMS, you can also set up specific rewards for completion milestones).
- Access to Sensei Blocks. You can use Sensei Blocks anywhere on your site to add interactive elements like videos, flashcards, image hotspots, etc., into your lessons. Another popular block is quizzes, which can help reinforce specific concepts and assess student understanding of a topic. Sensei Blocks can make your course more effective and engaging, and you can even use them to promote other things on your site.
- The chance to add downloadable media attachments to offer your students additional learning materials (and enrich your curious ones’ experience with bonus resources!).
- A content drip tool with a customizable start date for students that sign up for your courses. You can also set up your own access and expiration periods.
- An exclusive feature to create groups and cohorts to simulate an academic or group learning experience.
- A blog post to course creator feature that enables site owners to quickly turn any blog article into an online course swiftly — thus reducing the time it takes to create lessons.
- Deep integration with WooCommerce Payments, which allows you to sell your courses more easily.
2. Tutor LMS
Tutor LMS is a product made by Themeum to help you set up, manage, and sell eLearning courses. This WordPress course plugin allows users to create lessons (using content drip as well), quizzes with over ten question types, assignments, and provide certificates. Other features include:
- Customizable triggered emails you can send to your students and instructors for events happening on your course and course previews that can give them an idea of whether or not they want to purchase them.
- Multi-instructor support for creators that want to bring on additional teachers.
- Support for multiple types of content media, such as text-only content, audio, and videos. The plugin also includes integrations with Google Classroom for teaching support and Zoom for live classes.
- Student forums and Q&A pages to allow students to answer each other’s questions and facilitate support.
- An admin and instructor dashboard that can help you track and monitor earnings as well as give an overview of your LMS analytics, revenue, statements, and more.
- Tutor LMS is available in more than 27 languages, which makes it a good tool for building online courses for a global audience.
3. Lifter LMS
Lifter LMS is a popular and flexible WordPress plugin with a large community behind the product. Its comprehensive list of features help course creators share knowledge with a variety of audience types. Some of the most interesting ones include:
- Prerequisites you can use to, for example, prompt students to successfully complete a lesson before another can be unlocked. This is great for providing course certifications and keeping your attendees motivated, offering a more gamified experience.
- Course reviews and testimonials allow students to recommend your online courses to others.
- A course creation tool that is user-friendly and allows for some customization.
4. MasterStudy LMS
The MasterStudy LMS Plugin claims to be an all-in-one solution for course instructors, education centers, and course marketplaces. This WordPress plugin offers users the functionality of creating video lessons and adding slides, graphs, and more media. Other features include:
- The use of a WYSIWYG editor where you live-view any changes you make to your courses, so you can manage all content in real-time.
- A backend course builder and separate sections for each course to have announcements, FAQs, and more.
- Ratings, reviews, and difficulty levels for your lessons.
- A student management backend that includes progress reports.
- Lessons and quizzes that are customizable.
- A set of more advanced features when you upgrade to higher-priced packages.
LearnDash is an LMS plugin often used by companies and universities for training. The plugin can also be utilized to create and manage custom online courses, supporting most media types like videos, audio, images, Adobe Captivate files, and Google Docs. Other popular features offered by LearnDash include:
- Mobile-responsive layouts so students can access and view content on any device.
- The option to drip content and offer timed lessons to move students through classes more efficiently. There is also a grade book add-on that allows you to manage student grades and track their progress.
- The option for instructors to charge by one-time payment, subscription, membership, bundles, and licenses for online courses.
- Automated email notifications to remind students to return to their course and complete it, keeping them motivated for longer.
- Support for both students and instructors, who can also create their own courses on your site.
6. Good LMS
Good LMS is an LMS plugin made and maintained by GoodLayers that allows you to create and sell both online and onsite courses. The plugin focuses on producing a course marketplace where you can support multiple course creators and types. Some of its features include:
- A course design tool that works like a regular WordPress blog post (your content also becomes available on the WordPress dashboard).
- Progress meters to monitor student achievements.
- The ability to set commission rates for instructors, so you can manage your team more easily.
- Because it focuses more on being a marketplace, Good LMS also offers course ratings to help users determine which courses their students prefer.
- Keep in mind that if you only want to sell your own courses, the additional transaction and instructor backend on top of the admin one can be unnecessary.
7. WP Courseware
WP Courseware is an LMS plugin for WordPress that supports drag-and-drop lesson design and includes an unlimited number of courses and students. The tool also has its own community portal to allow course creators to communicate in a forum so you can get tips and understand FAQs faster. Other features of this plugin include:
- Design your online course visually and offer additional materials and multimedia learning using text and video.
- Schedule lessons using drip content.
- Include several quiz types and question tags for evaluating students more easily.
- Explore grade books to understand and manage student progress.
- WP Courseware integrates with a variety of eCommerce plugins and is compatible with any WordPress theme or page builder.
8. MemberPress Courses
MemberPress Courses is an add-on built into the popular MemberPress plugin for WordPress. With its additional MemberPress subscription and paywalling functionalities, the Courses LMS is a standout choice for educators and businesses looking to add online courses to the mix. Some of its most popular features include:
- Design your course with a drag-and-drop builder and built-in pagemaker that auto-creates branded, mobile-friendly pages.
- Offer payment versatility with support for dozens of payment methods.
- Create unlimited courses, students, quizzes, and certificates, along with MemberPress content protection functionality.
What’s the Best LMS Plugin for WordPress?
Of all the plugins we have covered in our list, the best choice is Sensei LMS. Unlike many of the other LMS plugins in our list, Sensei LMS has native integration with WordPress. This means you’ll use the Gutenberg block editor to create courses instead of having to get used to an unfamiliar interface. Sensei natively integrates with WooCommerce, and you can use WooCommerce Payments to sell courses, which gives you a wide range of payment gateways available.
Plus, you also get lots of great features. For example, Sensei Blocks allows you to add interactive blocks to your lessons, you can use course content dripping to control how students access your lessons, there is a distraction-free Learning Mode, and you can use all sorts of multimedia attachments and elements. All in all, it’s a complete LMS plugin!
If you’re an online course creator looking for an ideal package for WordPress that also handles your selling requirements, try Sensei Pro.
Don’t forget about WordPress Hosting
Remember, it’s crucial to recognize that the performance and stability of your LMS heavily rely on the quality of your managed WordPress hosting.
Investing in a reliable hosting provider ensures optimal speed, security, and scalability, enabling you to deliver a smooth and uninterrupted learning experience to your users. If you expect to have more than a few students learning at a time, Pressable is the ideal host for you.