If you want to host your course on your own WordPress site instead of using an all-in-one platform, then an LMS is the way to go. LearnDash is one that’s available, but is it the best you could choose?
Is LearnDash the best WordPress LMS? Yes, LearnDash is definitely the most complete WordPress LMS plugin out there! It’s packed full of features that will give you everything you need when it comes to building, administering, and monetizing your online courses for a reasonable annual fee.
In this article, I’ll go over the features of LearnDash to see if it’s what you need, and whether the price fits into your budget.
In fact, it’s used by everyone from major universities and Fortune 500 companies all the way to individual entrepreneurs who want to publish online course content.
LearnDash lets you create lessons and full online courses right on your WordPress website. You can administer quizzes to test your student’s learning.
At the end, you can award certificates to users who successfully complete your course.
And all along the way, you can use the powerful reporting tools of LearnDash to see how your business is operating, and how your students are working through your course material.
LearnDash also allows you to use a large selection of add-ons. Both official ones and third-party options. Plus it integrates with many tools that you may already be using.
There are actually so many features available with this plugin that it may be a bit overwhelming at first for a beginner!
But LearnDash does a great job of being user-friendly and simple to navigate, while still giving you the power to create amazing courses.
In terms of price, LearnDash is fairly competitive with other LMS plugins out there like LifterLMS or WPCourseware.
The Basic plan costs $199 for 1 year of support and updates. It contains 1 site license and allows you to create an unlimited number of courses for an unlimited number of users.
Unlike most online course platforms, the pricing of LearnDash plans is mostly based on the number of site licenses, and there isn’t really any restrictions on features compared to the other plans.
No matter what plan you choose, you get all of the features like course content protection, drip-feed lessons, advanced quizzing, certificates and badges, course forums, free integrations, and more.
The one thing that you won’t get on the Basic plan that is included with the next two plans is called ProPanel.
ProPanel is a special Learndash tool that enhances your admin powers by bringing all of your reporting and assignment management together.
It lets you send course-specific communications and shows realtime activity of your courses. Basically, it really takes your dashboard to the next level.
The mid-tier plan LearnDash has available is the Plus Package, which costs $229 for a year of support and updates.
Like I mentioned, the only real difference from the Basic plan is that you can have up to 10 site licenses and it includes ProPanel.
The Pro package costs $369 for a year of support and updates, and it increases the number of site licenses that you can have to 25.
One thing that I love about LMS plugins like LearnDash is that they cost significantly less than all-in-one hosted platforms like
These platforms will often charge you $100 or more per month. So you can end up paying 12x or more what it would cost to use LearnDash instead.
While those platforms are convenient and handle a lot of hosting and update related tasks for you, I’m not sure that I value those added features enough to pay an extra $1,000 per year for them.
So if you’re familiar with running a WordPress website already, then using an LMS plugin like LearnDash can be a great way to get the features needed to run your course while also keeping costs as low as possible.
A big drawback of other online course platforms is the limits that they place on your ability to run your business.
LearnDash lets you host an unlimited number of courses and have an unlimited number of students.
And in terms of bandwidth or storage, the only limits you need to worry about are the ones that your website host already has in place.
Other platforms may limit you to as few as 3 courses or digital products that you can offer on some of their plans.
Some may limit how many emails you can send per month, or how many total contacts or members you’re allowed to have.
A few platforms even limit how much storage or bandwidth you’re allowed to use, which can make handling your video courses a bit of a nightmare.
LearnDash doesn’t have any of these restrictions. So your business can grow as much as you want, and you know that you’ll only pay a flat amount per year for support and updates to it.
Unlike many online course platforms, LearnDash also won’t charge you any transaction fees on your course sales. Some platforms are known to charge transaction fees as high as 10% on some of their plans!
But you’ll only pay the standard fee that Paypal or Stripe will charge, which is the same regardless of how you choose to host your courses.
LearnDash has a course builder that rivals most other platforms. It’s easy to organize your course content by dragging and dropping it how you want.
This makes it a breeze to structure your courses and get everything assembled quickly and efficiently.
It’s easy to move lessons and quizzes around, and the whole thing is more intuitive compared to the course builders of some other LMS platforms out there.
Which is nice, because by the time you’ve created all of your course content, you probably don’t want to spend ages assembling all of it too.
You get a lot of flexibility with LearnDash to present your course material to students exactly how you want to.
You can drip feed lesson content to them according to a schedule. This provides a more guided learning experience.
You can either set it so that courses unlock X days after enrollment per user, or at specific dates for everyone.
There’s even a free notifications add-on that will automatically notify your students once new course content is available for them.
You can also set course prerequisites with LearnDash. So you can decide which courses need to be taken before students can access others, and which order things need to be completed in.
Of course this is an optional way to provide more guidance for students, but you’re also free to let them choose whichever courses they’d like to take too.
One unique feature LearnDash has is the ability to award course points to students as they complete your courses.
Students can use these points to unlock new course content, and is a great way for allowing them to choose their own dynamic education path.
I think that some form of community is a must-have for your online courses. Most of the successful online courses I’ve seen offer some sense of community.
It creates a whole extra level of engagement and interaction between you and your students. It allows them to share information they’ve learned, ask questions, and network with each other.
LearnDash lets you create either public or private forums for your enrolled users. You can make one forum for everyone, or have course specific forums.
LearnDash forums are offered using bbPress, a very popular forum plugin with over 15 million downloads. It’s the same plugin that LearnDash uses themselves for their support.
LearnDash offers more quiz options than you’ll find on most other platforms. You can choose from up to 8 different question types when creating your quizzes, for a really varied experience.
Options that are currently supported include sorting, matching, single answer, multiple choice, fill in the blank, free text, survey, and essay questions.
LearnDash gives you the ability to use question banks, so you can have hundreds of randomized questions for each quiz to pull from.
You’re also given the option to use quiz timers to enforce how long students have to complete an assignment, and limit the number of attempts. And at the end, you can display custom messages based on their performance.
Both questions and answers can contain any kind of media, including video, audio, or images. This makes for much more meaningful quizzes for your students, instead of just feeling like they’re ticking the boxes.
If you want to be really nice, you can even provide text, video, or image hints to students as they work through a quiz.
You have full flexibility in how your questions are displayed. Students can see all the questions in a quiz at once, several on a page at once, one at a time, or even the option for students to skip questions if they want.
Quizzes can be used to block progression. So students aren’t able to move on to the next lesson until after they’ve successfully completed a quiz.
You can really take your testing to the next level by using LearnDash Gradebook.
This is a premium add-on that automatically syncs with quiz and assignment grades. It allows you to assign weighted grades to each task, and issue learner report cards.
Issue certificates or badges either after individual quizzes are completed, after completing a full course, or both.
Certificates are completely customizable and can include a student’s first and last name, the date, average score of all quizzes, the quiz or course name, and a lot more.
Selling online courses has never been easier than LearnDash makes it. You can set your price and payment schedule, and start taking orders right away.
You can accept payments using Paypal, Stripe, or 2Checkout. So whether your students want to pay using Paypal, a credit card, or even their bank account, you’re covered.
While LearnDash doesn’t have a built-in shopping cart, it lets you easily integrate with popular free choices like WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, or iThemes exchange.
When students purchase your course, an account automatically gets created for them and they get enrolled right away.
In addition to one-time purchases, you can also offer subscriptions and memberships.
I think that recurring payments are a great way to maximize revenue from your courses, as opposed to just earning a bunch of money at launch and then having it dwindle afterward.
If students fail to make a subscription payment, they’ll lose access right away. So you can be sure that they’ll only have course access if they continue to pay.
A nice aspect of memberships is that when someone joins, you can give them access to any course that you choose to include in that membership level.
LearnDash offers lots of flexibility in terms of creating course bundles too. It just takes a few clicks to bundle courses together, which is an awesome way to offer discounts and incentivize students to buy your courses in bulk.
If you’re looking to create a course marketplace more like Udemy, you can use the premium Group Registration add-on.
It allows you to allow organizations to buy course licenses in bulk and them offer them to their staff.
The group leader is given their own dashboard where they can track performance and progress of all the students below them.
If you only want to give access to a course for a set amount of time, you can check a box that will cause the course to expire, after which they’ll need to buy it again.
Creating your course content is just one part of being a great instructor. You also need the tools to manage your users and see how they’re interacting with your lessons.
LearnDash has lots of features that allow you to do that.
You can quickly and easily run reports with LearnDash to see statistics about user progress, enrollment, quiz performance, and more.
It also includes a graphical representation so you can see exactly how far learners have completed in a specific course.
When students submit assignments, you can have it so they automatically get approved, or you can get notified and manually approve them and award points.
You’re also able to leave private comments and feedback on assignments that only the student will see.
Users get their own front-end profiles where they can track their own progress and course activity too.
It lets them see what courses they can access, quiz performance, and lets them go back to print any certificates that they’ve earned so far.
The one downside of reporting with LearnDash is that many of the features are locked behind the ProPanel module.
This requires paying for one of the two higher licensing options to get access to it. So if you’re on the Basic plan, you will be a lot more limited in the kind of reporting that you can see.
You can set specific triggers in LearnDash that will result in sending out emails. This can be helpful in automating some parts of running your course.
Some reasons you might want to trigger an email is if access to a course is about to expire for a student, if they haven’t logged in for a certain number of days, or if new lesson are available.
You can connect these triggers to many popular email platforms like MailChimp, and sending out email notifications are a great way to increase engagement of your learners and keep them coming back to complete lessons.
LearnDash has a wealth of features to offer to you as an online course creator. You can easily get a course set up with the default settings.
Plus there are lots of settings and controls to customize everything exactly how you want it if you want too.
Using LearnDash as your LMS plugin gives you a course builder to put your content together into lessons and full courses.
It has extensive capabilities when it comes to quizzes, and lets you offer eight different types of questions.
You also get the ability to give students badges and certificates at various points throughout the course, or upon completion.
LearnDash doesn’t put a limit on the number of students or courses that you’re able to offer, like many other course platforms do.
So you won’t need to constantly worry about going over your limits or needing to upgrade to the next plan. You just pay one flat licensing fee that gives you support and updates for a year.
Other course platforms can charge you a similar fee every single month, so using LearnDash can also be a more cost-effective way of making your course content available to the world.
If you’re wanting to see what other options are out there for creating your membership online course, then check out my list of the Top 5 Best Membership Site Platforms.
Jacob has a background in finance and engineering. Outside of his day job, he is a lifelong learner, who enjoys reading, taking online courses, and writing about what he's learned.