While programs like Blackboard, Moodle and CourseWork are serving the needs of universities to be able to deliver online course material, we’re finding that professors, business organizations and non-profits alike are looking for something customizable that integrates with a Content Management System (CMS). WordPress is a popular CMS being used to run about 20% of the internet these days. And that percentage keeps growing.
LearnDash by Justin Ferriman
Biggest marketplace advantage: This plugin has more features than its competitors mentioned in this article. It is also built by a person who has a background in the e-learning space, which explains why it is so feature-rich and suitable for a wide variety of educational needs.
This plugin also integrates the most seamlessly with any theme because it mostly uses Custom Post Types to display content.
It also has an extensive list of integrations it offers, all of which are free. These range from e-commerce to membership plugins, badge features and other developer tools such as those that help with Tin-Can API reporting.
Summary: Though it launched later than WP Courseware and Sensei, this plugin seems to have advanced its list of features and functionality. I was amazed when I first saw how much it could do. However, with more functionality comes the very difficult task of designing the user interface and learnability of a software, which is where this plugin’s weak point lies (but Justin told me, they’re working on it).
Structure, Controls and Interface:
In LearnDash you have 4 separate Custom Post Types: Courses, Lessons, Quizzes and Certificates.
In addition to the above, you also have an “Advanced Quiz” area, which is separated from its plugin counterparts and shown at the bottom of the WordPress dashboard.
Since the plugin uses Custom Post Types, the editing area for entering Course and Lesson content looks exactly like the regular WordPress editing screen, with almost all the same controls, including Featured Image.
Lessons can have timers, or the option to be visible a certain number of days after a user signs up. They can also accept assignment uploads.
This plugin allows a Lesson to be set as a “sample” so people can try a few before committing to buy the entire Course.
Lessons can be forced to be taken in a certain order, or be taken randomly.
Courses can have prerequisites, can be free or paid and can be based on recurring or one-time payments. (Paypal integration is automatically set up with this plugin to allow for payment options with Courses).
Courses have a “Course Materials” field to enter items that users will need to take the course (such as pre-purchased books, computer or software requirements, and so on).
Courses and Lessons can have “Associations,” or regular categories and tags for organization. This is very confusing at first because Course titles automatically become Course Associations and the purpose of the additional Associations taxonomy is not that clear. However, as Justin, the creator explained to me, using Associations will make sure a Lesson is part of a particular Course (or more than one Course), and likewise with Quizzes. The categories and tags are for helping you organize the display of the Course listings on the front end of your website, much like using Post categories and tags.
Shortcodes can be used to display Course categories or tags. Shortcodes can also be used to show a list of quizzes, payment buttons, groups, or ‘visitor’ content for those not yet enrolled in the course, plus more.
Users can be manually added or removed from a course using the regular WordPress Users menu, since all students are basically ‘Subscribers’ with LearnDash. They can also be part of a “Group,” for which there is a custom user role called Group Leader. This user role allows a teacher to review the scores and progress of students in their Group.
You can bulk add or remove users to a Course.
Quizzes and marking:
There are two types of Quizzes in LearnDash: the ‘simple’ Quiz, or the Advanced Quiz. Both are separate menu items. Learning the difference between the two, or the reason why two of them exist is very confusing.
The Advanced Quiz has a lot of functionality and settings options. However it is very difficult to intuitively figure out how to create and use an Advanced Quiz, get it to display on the front end of WordPress, or connect it to a Course or Lesson. However, a little nudging through the interface will get you through the hurdles soon enough, and when it does, you’ll have lots of options.
In general, here are Quiz capabilities with LearnDash:
Quiz questions use an editing box that is similar to the Post and Page editor, where you can enter formatted text, links, images and other files.
Questions in Quizzes can require the following types of answers: Single choice, Multiple choice, “Free” choice, Sorting choice, Matrix Sorting choice, Cloze or Assessment. Although they have confusing names and are even more confusing to set up, they are actually common question types that we are used to. For example “Cloze” questions are basically fill-in-the-blank questions (except explained in a more complicated way). The most unique question offering in this plugin is the sorting option, which asks users to match up words or pictures, or put them in the correct order.
Quizzes can have intro text (such as instructions) as well text to be displayed after results are shown.
You can set the number of times a Quiz can be repeated. Advanced Quizzes can opt to have a “Restart” link and or be set to only allow one take.
Quizzes have knowledge levels, which rate a user on a scale of 1 to 5 (such as being able to say they are an “Expert” level learner, though this is not part of the passing mark.
Questions and answers within questions can be moved up or down to change their order using simple buttons or a drag and drop feature in the Advanced Quiz area.
Advanced Quiz questions can have categories, which work with random question sorting. As Justin explains, “From a teacher stand point, categories allow them to see if there is a specific category where a student struggled most and can spend more time on that topic.”
Advanced Quizzes can have time limits and can start automatically when a page loads.
Advanced Quizzes can have overview areas that show a user how many questions they’ve seen, answered and have left to go. It also allows skipping a question and coming back to it later.
Quizzes can have both random questions and random answers. This means the correct answer can be option “B” in one user’s Quiz, while being option “A” in another user’s Quiz. In addition, the Quiz can show only a certain number of random questions from a set, to help randomize Quizzes for each user even more.
Questions can have a number of points assigned to them. This is great for teachers who want to assign more weight to one question over another. Not only that, each answer can have different points assigned to it, so with multiple choice, the ‘best’ answer can have more points, but a ‘good’ answer can have less, still allowing credit for effort.
There are options to either show or not show a user if they got a question correct, or show the correct answer. You can also opt to either show or not show a user how they did overall. You can give a user a message or explanation after getting an answer correct or incorrect.
Questions can have “hints” which use a regular WordPress-type editor with all formatting capabilities.
Advanced Quizzes can optionally have e-mails sent automatically to users with results.
You can show statistics and average marks to users.
There is a Leaderboard option where students can publicly display their scores. The back end Statistics and Leaderboard area can sort through users to see their performance on a Quiz.
There are options to require users fill in a form with information before beginning a quiz (this is useful for entering things like student ID numbers at universities, or allowing the teacher to see the phone number, name and e-mail address right on the Quiz at a glance, like on traditional tests).
Advanced Quizzes and Questions can be templated for easy reproduction (see above screenshot).
Questions can be copied from other Quizzes.
Advanced Quizzes can be inserted into any Page or Post using a shortcode or by using a dropdown option in the “Quizzes” Custom Post Type.
Each Course can have different certificates designed for it. A Quiz can be associated with a specific Certificate.
The way Certificates are added is through the Featured Image function in WordPress. From there you can enter text into the text editor, where the Featured Image is shown as a background. This can get tricky for ensuring proper alignment.
Justin explains that, “the certificate creation can take on many user meta data, which is only generated for the user to see and admin to access.”
Certificates are available for download after completing a Quiz, or in a user’s profile page.
You can set a passing mark for a user to get a Certificate. You can then have a separate “Passing Percentage.”
There are very little development needs with this plugin when it comes to displaying content on the front end of an existing WordPress website. The way it’s set up makes it extremely easy to fit into any theme, because its contents are contained within the theme’s ‘regular’ templates by using Custom Post Types.
In some cases it is useful to know how to use shortcodes, or how to customize CSS to override default styles the plugin uses. The plugin has an extensive list of shortcode options and variations to control the display of customized content very easily.
There is no way for a user to upload a file as part of a Quiz question. This can be problematic for accepting essays or other types of long-form answers.
Creating some types of questions in the Advanced Quiz area can be difficult if you are not used to coding or logic (see above screenshots).
Sometimes there are so many features it is overwhelming to go through the set up of a Quiz. However, this is mainly a user interface problem that can be solved, since a difficult learning curve only needs to happen once.
At present, Post categories and tags automatically become Course categories and tags, which can make it difficult to differentiate your blog content from your Course content, or at least keep them separate for organizational purposes (see above screenshot).
The Certificates function is a bit awkward to work with (see above).
As mentioned above, the user interface and learning curve is the hardest part to deal with when using this plugin.
Sensei by WooThemes. You may know WooThemes for their popular WordPress template designs and their e-commerce plugin, WooCommerce. Well now that amazing team is working on an LMS plugin for WordPress as well. We tested their latest release of the plugin and also interviewed the lead developer on the project, Dan Johnson. Below are our findings, which we hope will help you chose the right option for your e-learning needs!
Sensei by WooThemes
Biggest marketplace advantage: This plugin’s core strength is that it integrates with a well-known and widely used theme marketplace (WooThemes) and e-commerce plugin (WooCommerce), for selling courses online. It also has the most ‘plug-and-play’ qualities with its back end user interface, meaning it is the easiest plugin to learn how to use.
Summary: Being one of the newest learning management systems, this plugin is slowly growing its feature set and is backed by a ‘big name’ brand in the premium WordPress space. This is an indicator that you can expect good support and future growth. However, at present, it is not as extensive as competing products.
Tom wrote about Sensei on the ManageWP blog last year. Sensei has extensions allowing you expand its possibilities. Albeit, there are only three right now. However, they are important to know about because when you compare the plugin to its competitors, these extensions ‘fill the gap’ with features you may be looking for: certificates, media attachments and modules.
Note: you can click on the screenshots below to enlarge them.
Structure, Controls and Interface
There are Courses and Lessons in Sensei. Lessons go inside Courses but you will mainly be working with Lessons, which is why it’s the most dominant menu item (“Courses” is a sub-menu item under “Lessons,” which makes the order confusing).
Each Course has a custom field for embedding a YouTube or Vimeo video. The Course video would theoretically be used to advertise the Course publicly or provide a sample lesson.
Each Lesson (which goes inside a Course – remember that) has a custom field allowing you to embed a video. Lesson videos would contain private instruction (see screenshot below).
If you want Lesson videos to be private, and not something someone can grab freely on the web, you need to use a paid service like Vimeo Plus, which allows specified rules for where videos can show on the web. Alternatively, you can self-host videos by clicking the WordPress “Add Media” button in a Lesson editor (though there are caveats with self-hosting video).
Courses can be “Featured.” A shortcode can be used to display “Featured” videos on a Page or Post in WordPress.
Courses can have one pre-requisite each, which is selected through a drop-down menu on a Course editing screen. This editing screen is much like the ‘regular’ WordPress Page or Post editor.
Lessons can also have one pre-requisite each (another pre-created Lesson). The way you make sure someone has taken a Course as a pre-requisite is by making sure the Lesson pre-requisite is not in any other Course (which it can be).
Lessons have an option to enter length and complexity. This info can be helpful for students who want to know what their time and ‘brain power’ investment will be. For example, I may not want to start a “Hard” course that is 2 hours long shortly before going out to dinner, or entering a meeting. But (if Lessons don’t have pre-requisites), I can move on to a 20-minute, “Easy” rated session, coming back to the more difficult one later.
Courses can have categories, Lessons can have tags, but not visa versa.
Courses and Lessons have a “duplicate” option in WordPress, for easy re-creations.
Lessons can enable comments, which can allow for class discussion. But after the semester is over you’ll either have to delete the comments or replicate the course and all its lessons to ‘clean up’ the comments area. (Personally I think you shouldn’t use the comments feature for class discussion because it will be hard to organize topics. Rather, opt for a forum plugin like BuddyPress or bbPress. The Sensei team has notified me they are looking into an integration of this type because of its popularity on their idea board.)
Lessons can have an order number (this is key if you don’t want them ordered by date created).
CSV exports are available for Learner, Course and Lesson information on your WordPress install (see link on “Analysis” page screenshot above).
Learner profiles can be switched to private or be made public.
Quizzes and Marking
Lessons can have complex quizzes allowing for combinations of question types containing everything from multiple choice, true or false, fill in the gap, short answers, long answers or uploading a file. This is a major improvement in Sensei’s latest release, and well done too, since it was one of its weakest points brought up in reviews around the web.
Quiz questions can now also have media attached to them, as with WP Courseware.
Quiz questions can have a randomized order, which helps prevent cheating.
Quizzes now have a drag and drop re-ordering feature (see above screenshot).
Quizzes can have a minimum passing percentage assigned to them, to automate grading and save teachers time. Automatic grading can also be turned off to allow for manual grading.
Quizzes can be re-taken if you check the box to allow this under “Settings.”
An “Analysis” (see above) and “Grading” area shows stats about Courses and Learners including average grades, and the number of completed Courses.
Plugin-wide settings in Sensei allow Courses to be marked “Complete” either when a user actually finishes all the Lessons, or when they achieve a passing mark on the Course.
The usage of Certificates requires downloading an extension to Sensei. Currently this is free.
Certificates can use custom templates or a default template that comes with the extension.
You can assign a different certificate design to different Courses.
Certificate awarding can be controlled so that a student only gets the Certificate if they’ve passed, not just completed a course. A plugin-wide setting controls this (see screenshot above).
Certificates are sent automatically and can’t be manually re-sent by a teacher. However, they are always available in the My Courses area of the plugin, where users manage their Courses.
(Note: Certificates did not work on my installation while doing testing, so we couldn’t get you our own screenshots, however we did not pursue extensive troubleshooting for lack of time. Note that you would get support when buying a WooThemes product to solve issues you may have around this.)
Sensei can be customized with templates (requiring coding skills) and some dashboard settings (mainly to determine image widths), but works best out of the box with select WooThemes. In other words, if you plan to use a non-Woo theme, you’ll need to be prepared for some coding work to get it to look right in some cases, even on the TwentyFourteen ‘default’ theme that comes with all WordPress installations.
Here are some screenshots of what the plugin pages look like on TwentyFourteen (also see those above). Notice how the default sidebar does not show on these pages (they don’t integrate with your ‘regular’ theme pages or templates) and how the meta data wording bunches up against each other, not to mention the margin and padding issues:
Here is an example of some image settings to control display with Sensei:
Other general settings that allow you to control where CSS is pulled from:
According to Dan Johnson, who heads up the Sensei team at WooThemes,
For other non-Woo themes, it’s usually just a case of adding some code to the wrapper files as described [here]. Unfortunately, there simply isn’t a way to make Sensei work seamlessly with every theme automatically.
As explained above, if you’re not a developer, and don’t want to use WooThemes, it may be hard for you to get Sensei looking pretty. In June of 2013 (before their latest release), one blogger wrote about the development weaknesses surrounding Sensei integration with other themes.
There is no option to add or remove Learners from a course, no way to bulk import Learners, and no way to select current users on the WordPress install to be part of a Course unless you are integrating the plugin with WooCommerce (which will allow you to do so by manually creating an ‘Order’). However, there is a button that says, “Start taking this course,” on the front end of a Sensei page, which allows any user to start a course. Whether the course is paid or free, once they click on that button, that user is automatically added to the “Analysis” area, which can filter the users in each course. But they can’t be removed, unless, as Dan explains, you use a “function to add/remove users from courses, but it requires adding a small snippet of code to one of your theme files.”
It’s the perfect solution for selling educational services from a blog, or providing employee or subscriber training. It is not, however, designed for large-scale usage by educational institutions.
WP Courseware Features:
Structure, Controls and Interface:
With WP Courseware you have Courses, Units and Modules. Units go inside Modules and Modules go inside Courses.
Quizzes go inside Units, but Quizzes are created separately from a different menu. When you work on a Unit, you select from a drop down list what Quiz to add to it. Alternatively you can use their drag and drop interface, which is much easier, but takes a bit of clicking around to find (hint: it’s under “Training Courses” > “Modules, Units & Quiz Ordering”).
Units have a “duplicate” option for easy re-creation. This would be useful if you wanted the contents of a Unit to be available in more than one Course or Module.
Units are a Custom Post Type. In other words, they ‘look’ just like the Post and Page editor in the WordPress back end, except there are no categories, tags, ordering options or featured images. This is a very simplified editor without custom fields, author boxes, or much other than the basics. The only major option you’ll have here is to choose a template based on a file that you previously coded (techno-phobes need not apply).
When using media to display course lessons, the company developed a way to serve “protected” video content using AmazonS3 cloud storage files. This requires another plugin installation. However, the advantage here is that you won’t have to self-host video content for it to be available to members only.
You can optionally block users from seeing future Units if they haven’t passed previous ones. This is how to create a pre-requisite functionality.
Notifications can be customized, such as those that appear when Units are completed.
Existing WordPress users can be individually added to a Course or be revoked from a Course. Users can be individually or collectively set back to the beginning of a Course, Module or Unit. These functions are added to the “Users” menu of WordPress.
You can export or import Courses, but importing requires the XML file to have been created by the WP Courseware Export function. This is mainly for site migrations.
Quizzes and Marking
WP Courseware sends e-mails to students and teachers when milestones are reached (such as completing a course or passing a quiz). E-mails can contain quiz grades, cumulative course grades and links to download a certificate of completion, among others. These are controlled by “E-mail Template Tags” easily accessible in the Course Settings.
Options for Quizzes are extensive. For example, they can be in “Survey Mode” where there are no correct answers. They can require a minimum passing mark to progress to the next Unit, they can show correct answers before progression, show what was inputted, and explain the answer. They can also be viewed later. These are options, so you can turn them off to prevent class cheating.
Quizzes can include manual grading, such as for essays or other types of files (like coding files, Excel sheets with formulas in them, or designs made into PDFs, for example). You can limit what types of files may be uploaded, for added security.
Quizzes support media files, so you can have a question that references an image or other file, where the student answers based on what they see or download.
Avoiding the send-out of Quiz results can be done on a per-Module basis, which is useful for final exams.
If a student fails a quiz, they are automatically asked to re-take it until they pass, if the Quiz is set to “blocking.” They can’t progress to the next Unit until they pass. Or, a teacher can set a Quiz to “non-blocking” so a user only gets one chance to either pass or fail.
There is a shortcode that can be used to display progress and cumulative grades on a page or post.
Each course has a “Grade Book” area where teachers can see users enrolled in specific courses. This screen shows students’ progress, grades, quizzes taken, and whether or not they have received their marks. This page also allows for mass e-mailing of final grades to students so long as they have completed the course (this is mainly applicable to quizzes with open ended questions or essays that can’t automate the sending of a final score in the system). The Grade Book can also be exported as a CSV in case teachers need to input information into another school system.
Certificates can use a custom background, include your logo and have a text or image-based signature. Certificates are delivered based on the following logic, according to Nate Johnson, co-founder of the WP Courseware plugin:
If a course is set to deliver a certificate, it will do so only after the final unit is marked as complete. If the final unit does not include a quiz, the certificate will be generated when the unit is marked as complete. If the final unit includes a ‘non-blocking quiz,’ meaning progress is not restricted to a passing score, the certificate will be generated when the unit is marked as complete (regardless of quiz score). If the final unit includes a ‘blocking quiz’, meaning a passing score is required, the unit will not be marked as complete until that passing score is achieved and therefore the certificate will not become available until the passing score is achieved.
This plugin uses shortcodes to display much of its content. This means pages displaying an ‘archive’ of Courses, Modules or Units is not available by default. A user will need to learn how to manually create these, using the “Documentation” menu (this may not be easy for non-developers).
This shortcode usage can come in handy because it allows course information to be displayed within a pre-defined div (such as the ‘regular’ content area of a WordPress Page). This can mean less coding work with theming and templating.
Tables created by the plugin (which contain a lot of its content) may need work to be responsive.
There is currently no way to make course content public. Even if you wanted your courses to be free, a user would have to register to access it. If selling courses, this can be troublesome if you wanted to offer sample lessons or previews of a course to potential buyers.
There is currently no way to give only a portion of WordPress users access to a Course, or revoke (i.e. un-enroll) access. This can be done one-by-one, however.
Courses and Modules don’t have a “duplicate” option, but there is not much to duplicate in those areas anyway. The Units, where most content is entered, does have this.
Certificates can only be turned on or off when a user “completes” a course. For Courses with no pre-requisites (i.e. ‘non-blocking’) this means that if users complete a course but fail, they can still download a certificate.
At present Quizzes cannot display a randomized order of questions to help prevent cheating.
- wenig Konkurrenz
- noch nicht vorhandenes Thema
- muss wert fuer Student bringen
WordPress kann man für vielerlei Sachen verwenden, wie zum Beispiel als Wiki, Bookmarkdienst und vieles, vieles mehr. Heute soll es darum gehen, WordPress auch als Videoportal zu nutzen.
Vorbereitung und Überlegung
Merkmale eines Videoportals sind natürlich eine Kommentarfunktion, eine Video bewerten Funktion und natürlich eine Suchfunktion. Dabei ist es natürlich verständlich, dass man mit WordPress nicht ein so umfangreiches Videoportal wie YouTube oder MyVideo erstellen kann, aber für eigene Videos völlig ausreichend. Zudem besteht der Vorteil dieses Videoportals, dass man die Videos lediglich per Einbetten Funktion in WordPress integrieren kann.
Natürlich kann man mit WordTube auch selber die Videos hochladen und abspielen. Somit kommt man einem eigenen Videportal sehr viel näher. Zudem besteht der Vorteil bei WordTube, dass man Werbung einbauen kann, welche man selber festlegen kann. Über Dienste wie CaptainAd ist dies aber auch für Videos möglich, die man von YouTube oder anderen Diensten hol, bloß kann man die Werbung nicht selber festlegen.
Wie mache ich aus WordPress ein Videoportal?
Dies ist mehr als einfach, da es zahlreiche Video Themes für WordPress gibt, die ich im nachfolgenden auflisten möchte:
- Elegant Themes: eVid – Ein ansprechendes und umfangreiches Videotheme bekommt man mit eVid. Es beinhaltet alle Funktionen, die ich eingangs aufgezählt habe und als spezielles Feature kann man sogar den Hintergrund abdunkeln – Demo – Details
- Woothemes: WooTube – Nicht so viele Funktionen, dafür gibt es aber verschiedene Designfarben – Demo – Details
- Woothemes: Groovy Video – Sehr ähnlich von Funktionen wie WooTube, nur ganz anderer Aufbau. – Demo – Details
Ihr seht, wie einfach es ist WordPress als Videoportal aufzubauen. Vielleicht nutzt ja jemand WordPress für sein Videoportal.
I often work with people who are just getting ready to pursue their dreams. Whether it’s starting a company, just starting to take a hobby more seriously, dreaming about being on their own again, or being hip deep in a new tech start-up, I’m game to help if people want the advice and are willing to do the work. For the last few years I’ve been developing course material for a program I call “Leveraging Trust” and it’s all about finding the center of who you are, and your experience, so that you can develop products and services from the position of a trusted advisor.
Recently, I’ve started thinking about putting this program online at a cheaper rate, so that some people could walk thru the program on their own before meeting with me. And this is, in short, what an e-learning course would be. A simple way for people to:
- Sign Up
- Pay a fee
- Get access to the first module
- Watch videos and download handouts
- Mark that step as complete
- Get access to the next module
- Rinse and repeat
This should be easy….
Years ago, seriously in 1995, I built one of the first online educational systems at Berkeley Lab (and even demonstrated it to a group of guys that would later build Blackboard). So I’ve watched as learning management systems (LMS) have risen and sank on the promises of ease: ease of use & ease of development. From my perspective, nothing is easier than doing e-learning on WordPress. So I thought I’d give it a go and build this version of Leveraging Trust (coming soon!) in WordPress as an online course.
So here are my 20 steps.
Step One: Get a good & free Membership plugin
I’ve written about memberships a bit before, and so many great people write so much about them that I don’t really focus there. But here’s the main thing you should know. Other than Justin Tadlock’s version, most others are overly complex – even when (and maybe especially when) they’re free. But to satisfy the curious, let me make sure you know the ones I own and have tried:
- Wishlist Member – Great, not free, can’t see/edit code
- Members – Justin Tadlock
- WPMUDEV’s Membership – nice, not free, takes some config (less than Wishlist)
- S2Member – Free, with paid Pro version, but not fast or simple to pick up
- Premise – Not free, good for articles, not for what I’m doing
So we’re clear: I bought each of these (that had cost) and tested them all out. Just for you. Ok, back to the message….
And the last one and maybe only one you need:
Step Two: Create a Membership Level
You can see that with only 5 tabs, this must be the easiest membership plugin known to mankind. Most of them have 10-15 tabs, which can be daunting. And what’s nice here is that you can create a membership level that acts like a course. So each level can function as a course you are selling. Some plugins don’t work this way. This post isn’t about those other plugins, but let me just say, Paid Membership Pro works exactly as I hoped it would – letting me charge people to get access to my content. You see here that you can fill in some quick basics and then put down a price (note: this price is a sample – at 10% the normal cost of the program). It also lets you mark it as a subscription course if you like, and determine if it membership will expire.
Step Three: Hit Save
Did you like that? Sure, I could have said you had to create pages that would support your membership program, but that takes a lot of space and Paid Memberships Pro does it for you. I like this approach, so I just went to the bottom of the page and clicked “save”.
Step Four: Configure Payments
I know we’re only four steps in but have you noticed how each step is taking literally seconds? That’s why I’m positive that you can create this entire course in less than 20 minutes if you have your content ready.
Step Five: Configure Email
I’m not sure you even need a lot of words other than – fill in your name and email. I bet you can do it in 20 seconds!
Step Six: Configure Messages
Whenever someone doesn’t have access to the course, you’re going to want to tell them something. Here’s your chance. Edit the message if you like. For me, it was almost perfect. No time wasted at all. I did, however, decide to make sure that a non-member couldn’t see anything, not even an excerpt. That’s one of the drop downs below.
Step Seven: Configure Discount Codes
If you think you’re going to see my discount codes so you can get this program cheaper, you have another thing coming! For you, sure I’ll get you a code. Just sign up on the right, so you are getting my notices sent to your inbox and you’ll see when I do specials. Plus, I like you. I really really like you.
Notice that I didn’t mark anything or hit save. Alas, that is a fake code. But what I like is that Paid Memberships Pro auto-creates ones for you. Nice.
Step Eight: Buy WP Courseware
By now you’ve noticed that you’ve created an entire membership site on your site without spending a penny. So now it’s time to make you pay up. But here’s the thing, this plugin – WP Courseware – from Fly Plugins, is priced at $67 for a single site. That’s a deal for what you’re going to see.
Once you buy it, upload it to your site (Plugins > Add New) and activate it. That simple.
Step Nine: Create a Course
We’re finally getting to the good stuff. But guess what? This is as easy as the other steps you’ve taken already.
You’ll need a name for your course and a description. Now, I like the “Only Completed/Next Units Visible” because it means sequential delivery (of sorts). But you can pick either approach. Also, I mark “automatic” for all users to get access, since I don’t need this plugin to do access for me. Paid Memberships Pro will do that when we give the right user access to the right launch page.
Step Ten: Courses have Modules
If you were to break up your course into steps, phases or parts, this is what a module is. It’s a name and it has a course it belongs to. It’s also the container for your teaching units. Since Leveraging Trust has 9 parts, I started creating some of them.
Step Eleven: Add your Content
This is literally what you’ve been waiting for. Now is when you create a unit – don’t worry that you don’t see any way to connect it to your modules or courses. Just create your unit like you’d write a post.
I want to take a second to talk about how I use video in this program. I know YouTube does some great stuff. But to date, I’ve not been able to ensure that only certain people have access to my videos. Namely, I don’t want non-students to get my content because this represents years of work and I don’t want to give it away. So I use Vimeo. And what I love about Vimeo is that with a Pro account, I can determine which URLs (domains) my videos can be played from (or embedded). Since chrislema.com is on the list, if you were in this course you could watch it. But you can’t find it on Vimeo directly or via search. You can’t get it from my site. You can’t watch it any other way, than in this course, which is protected by Paid Memberships Pro.
Create all the units you want (or need).
Step Twelve: Connect Units to Modules & Courses
Now you’ll want to go back to the list of courses. When you do, you’ll see a button that offers you to edit units and modules. It’s a drag & drop screen that lets you maneuver the modules into any order you like, as well as assign units to the modules (by again, dragging & dropping them into the green containers).
Are you timing yourself. By my watch, we’re only 15 minutes into this (the longest being the time it took to go buy that plugin).
Step Thirteen: Create your Course Launch Page
This is the point in the 20 steps where you’ll connect Paid Memberships Pro with WP Courseware. It’s really simple. You start by creating a page, just like any other time. Only on this page, you’re going to want to drop a shortcode that automatically places your course curriculum on it. This page’s url is the one that you’d send out in the confirmation email from PMP for this membership level. It’s a page that you’ll also protect (look on the right and check the box so that WordPress knows this page needs to be protected). Seriously, e-learning on WordPress has never been this easy before.
Step Fourteen: Confirm that the Course Launch Page is Working
Smart people check their work. You’re smart. What can I say? But you likely haven’t added yourself to this membership group that you created, so here’s what you’ll see.
Step Fifteen: Add yourself to this Membership Level
Don’t you love testing. Now you know it’s working. So go to your user, and in the user details, you can add yourself to this membership level. Then go back to that page. Here’s what you should see.
Notice how only the first unit has a link. The rest aren’t linked up yet because of that setting that I marked to sequentially release the units. But you could change your setting if you want.
Additionally WP Courseware comes with a widget that lets you put course progress in the sidebar if you want.
Step Sixteen: Test Purchasing
So log back out, and go to the url. You’ll see that earlier screen from Step Fourteen. Click on the registration, and you’ll see the list of memberships (or course) that you can buy. Click on the “I want…” link for the next step.
Step Seventeen: Create a Member
Now that you’ve clicked on “I want…” you’ll get to the registration screen. You’ll be creating a new user, as well as giving them the membership role needed to get access to the course.
Step Eighteen: Pay
I love how you’re flying thru these steps. It takes me longer to write them and you to read them, than for you to do them. But let’s do this…(on your own site)…Fill in your payment details and sign up. If you’re using Stripe, it doesn’t take you off the page. I already wrote why I started using Stripe, so if you’re not using Stripe, go get yourself an account.
Step Nineteen: Enjoy Unit One
If you’ve done everything right, you should be able to see the confirmation link that takes you to the launch page that lets you see unit one that has a link that lets you in to see the special video content that can only be seen on this page. Say that fast without breathing. It makes you giddy. As it should!
Step Twenty: Monitor Progress
Assuming that you’ve finished your own unit one, and marked it complete, there’s one more cool thing to check out. That’s when you go to your user screen. Now you’ll see all the students and exactly where they are in the course journey.
Check your watch. Did it take you more than 20 minutes? If it did, try the steps again, now that you’re a bit more comfortable. I bet you can do it in less than 20 minutes. It did over here. But my point wasn’t just about time. It was to show you that e-learning on WordPress didn’t have to be complicated with a bunch of coding effort.
Could you do more? Absolutely. Both Gravity Forms and Formidable Pro let you create quizzes – though Gravity Forms hasn’t released theirs yet and FormidablePro doesn’t do as much as Gravity Forms. But WP Courseware is looking at adding even more to it’s plugin. So it’s an area to keep watching.
|Option||Platform||Pro s||Con s|
|free, customizable to needs|