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What is the best LMS Plugin to launch my online courses on WordPress?

Given the current scenario of work-from-home, online courses saw a surge in the market like never before. Users all across the world jumped right into learning new skills with online courses and certifications without spending too much money as compared to traditional methods. Online courses instigate a sense of authority and expertise for your brand if you are targeting a specific niche.

If you have a WordPress website and want to put your knowledge out there for your users, in the form of online courses, you will need to choose from the 5 best LMS plugins we are talking about today. 

What is LMS and why do you need it?

An LMS (or Learning Management System), helps you set up courses on a digital platform like WordPress. It enables you to create classes, share courses, enroll students, accept assignments, evaluate students with quizzes, and award certifications. (These features totally depend on the LMS plugin you choose.)

You’d want your students to be coming back for more without having to persuade them with email campaigns, and ads. You can gamify the experience for your students by awarding them points, badges and rewards for completing courses or taking a quiz. This builds up a unique and motivating student engagement experience. This also helps you retain students on your online courses site longer. 

You can also create a membership plan for your students that lets them purchase a bundle of courses. This would boost your revenue and ensure that you have stable traffic coming to your site. 

Basic features to consider before choosing an LMS plugin

Before you choose an LMS for your WordPress site, here are some basic features you should consider:

  • Easy of use: The plugin must have an easy course builder to save you some time and energy when creating your online courses in different formats such as text-only, audio, video, links, and much more. It should also be easy to use for your students when they need to access courses, take quizzes, check their course progress, submit assignments, etc. The key here is ‘an easy to use platform’ – this is always a big hit for instructors and students alike.
  • Student enrollment and management: This will show how many people are taking courses on your site and to collect payments for the paid courses.
  • Automated emails: Automatically triggered emails based on a student’s actions (for example, when they pass a test or quiz successfully) are a great way to boost their morale and keep them moving forward in the courses. These help you enhance incentives by keeping the students informed about their progress.
  • Content dripping: Ideally, you’d want to drip feed course material to students based on their progress. For example, a student must finish lesson 1 to gain access to lesson 2.
  • Course progress information: This would act as a progress dashboard for students to tell them how well they are doing. 
  • Payment gateway support: You’d always want more than one payment gateway option on your online courses site to add flexibility for payments. PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.Net are the most popular payment gateway options that most of the LMS plugins support these days.
  • Financial marketing tools: You can use affiliate programs, coupons, and commission systems to market your online courses and drive in more traffic to your site. 
  • Grading system: Quizzes and tests help you evaluate students and determine how much material they’ve absorbed. Most schools use tests and quizzes to determine the eligibility of students for a course. Based on quizzes and tests, you can schedule to drip-feed course content to students, or grant access to the course they are eligible for or reward them with badges and points as incentives which they can redeem later.
  • Gamification and certificates: These would act as incentives for your students whenever a certain course activity is completed such as passing a quiz or completing a course. Certificates, points, and badges are much better than email confirmations. Your students can flaunt them on their profiles for that ‘feel-good’ factor! 
  • BuddyPress & bbPress integrations: Integration with popular community plugins such as BuddyPress and bbPress can help you create a sense of community on your online courses site where students get social about their progress, form groups based on their interests and courses, exchange the knowledge they absorb, flaunt their earned incentives.

5 best LMS plugins for WordPress

The basic features we listed above can be chosen based on your brand’s need. The features listed can stretch your budget when opting for an LMS plugin, but you would not want to be lacking the set of right tools to launch your online courses on WordPress. Having said that, let’s see the 5 best LMS plugins for WordPress out there:

  1. LearnDash
  2. LifterLMS
  3. Thrive Apprentice
  4. Tutor LMS
  5. MemberPress Courses

Let’s dive into the key features of each LMS plugin.

1. LearnDash

LearnDash

LearnDash

The most popular and go-to LMS solution of the WordPress community. LearnDash is super easy to use with a simple drag-and-drop course builder, lets you create multi-layer courses with lessons, topics, quizzes, and categories. Also lets you drip-feed course content to your students. Offers many monetization options such as one-time purchase, subscriptions, memberships, and a shopping cart for your online courses. LearnDash supports multiple payment gateway options including PayPal, Stripe, and 2Checkout.

LearnDash integrates well with popular third-party plugins such as MemberPress, bbPress, WooCommerce, GamiPress and much more.

Key features:

  • Supports multi-tier courses
  • Tools for drip-feeding content to students
  • Shows a gradebook to your students along with course points
  • Supports gamification for rewards, points and badges with GamiPress 
  • Offers monetization tools such as memberships, shopping cart, subscriptions, one-time purchase, course bundles, and course licenses
  • Automated email notifications and detailed reporting
  • Built-in dynamic forums that let you create course-specific forums
  • Allows user-profiles and group management
  • Supports most media types such as audio, video, images, Adobe Captivate files, and Google docs
  • Supports multi-site
  • Allows you to set prerequisites for courses
  • Quiz and test management tools
  • Supports payment gateways including PayPal, Stripe, and 2Checkout
  • Allows users to create their own courses with the Front-end Course Creation add-on
  • Hassle-free integrations with GamiPress, bbPress, WooCommerce, MemberPress, and much more

Price: 

The basic plan starts at $199 for 1 site license with 1-year support and updates, the plus plan at $299 for 10 sites, and the pro package at $369 for 25 sites.

2. LifterLMS 

LifterLMS is another feature-rich WordPress LMS plugin. It supports multi-tier courses with training modules, categories, lessons, and more. LifterLMS is a flexible solution that lets you create smaller courses or full-fledged degree programs. It offers course pre-requisites, group memberships, and content dripping for greater control over how your online courses work. LifterLMS has over 20 add-ons for managing affiliates, email marketing; which you can purchase individually or as a bundle of all add-ons based on your requirements. Bunch of payment options to receive payments manually via check, accept credit cards, recurring or one-time payments, sell course bundles, offer coupons, etc.  

Key features:

  • Drag-and-drop course builder
  • Drip feed content to students
  • Supports all types of multimedia
  • Set pre-requisites for courses
  • 1:1 private coaching 
  • Allows group memberships
  • Gamify your student engagement with points, rewards, certificates and achievement badges
  • Option to install a demo course for first-time users
  • Allows you to import and export courses
  • Wide variety of monetization and marketing tools such as multiple gateways, recurring payments, unlimited pricing tables, and coupons
  • Sell courses individually or as bundles
  • Supports integration with popular page builder plugins such as Divi and Beaver Builder
  • Includes a graphics pack with backgrounds and other design elements
  • Unique integrations with MailChimp, WooCommerce and AffiliateWP
  • Includes a ‘social learning’ tool to unlock the power of Facebook likes that improves student interaction with the courses
  • Allows you to create discussion areas and social profiles for students and teachers

Price: 

Although the main plugin is free, you can buy add-ons for building a complex learning platform with the individual add-ons pack starting at $99 for 1 site license with 1-year support and updates, the universal bundle at $299 for 5 sites, and the infinity bundle at $999 for unlimited sites.

3. Thrive Apprentice 

Thrive Apprentice an WordPress LMS plugin by Thrive Themes. If you want to turn your website into an engaging online courses hub, Thrive Apprentice lets you quickly create classes and lessons without the knowledge of coding. It offers an intuitive drag-and-drop course builder which allows you to use any combination of images, text, video and design elements.

The deep integration with SendOwl lets you sell multiple, payment-protected courses. You can also use Thrive Apprentice with popular membership plugins such as WishList Member, MemberPress, and Member Mouse to sell courses based on membership plans for our students.

Thrive Apprentice – Membership plugins integration

Key features:

  • Visual course builder dashboard
  • Supports modules, chapters, and lessons
  • Restrict access to courses built-in WordPress user roles 
  • Supports integration with popular membership plugins such as WishList Member, MemberPress, and Member Mouse
  • Deep integration with the SendOwl sales platform
  • Customizable colours, fonts, sizes and default labels
  • Numerous widgets including lesson list, course menu, course author and progress bar

Price: 

The pricing starts at $67 for 1-site license with 1-year support and updates, $97 for 5 sites, and $127 for 15 sites.

4. Tutor LMS 

Tutor LMS is a creation by the team at Themeum. It is a scalable all-in-one solution designed for every type of user. It’s user-friendly interface yet powerful features, make creating an online courses site a breeze. The plugin offers a drag-and-drop course builder, advanced quizzes with images, classic quizzes including short answer, multiple-choice, true-false. Tutor LMS lets you generate reports that are filterable which would help you understand the needs of your students. Tutor LMS also bundles a built-in student forums feature to harness the power of social learning

  • Drag-and-drop course builder
  • Supports all types of course media content such as text-only, audio course, videos on demand, live classes (with Zoom integration)
  • 10+ question types in the quiz builder
  • Q/A and students forums for each course
  • Supports eCommerce plugins such as EDD, WooCommerce, Restrict Content Pro, and Paid Membership Pro
  • One-click migration tools to switch platforms to LearnDash and LearnPress
  • Instructor dashboard to track and monitor earning and withdrawal settings
  • Supports popular page builder plugins such as Oxygen and Elementor
  • Integrates with Google Classroom
  • Premium add-ons for Certificates, Course Previews, Multi-Instructor, and more

Price: 

The core plugin is free. The pro plans start at $149 for 1 site license with 1-year support and updates, $199 for 5 sites, and $299 for unlimited sites.

5. MemberPress Courses 

MemberPress is a leading membership management solution for WordPress. It has a built-in feature for creating an online courses site with its MemberPress Courses add-on. The Classroom mode of the add-on lets you quickly create courses in minutes with its WordPress block editor interface. You can add categories, lessons, topics, embed images, videos and much more. You can create free courses or setup paid courses based on membership levels. Use the advanced rules for membership levels selling course bundles and restrict access to certain courses.

MemberPress Courses – Course builder preview

MemberPress lets you drip-feed content. It integrates seamlessly with most of the payment gateways including Stripe, Authorize.Net, PayPal, and many more.

You can connect MemberPress with popular email marketing services such as ConvertKit, MailChimp, Drip, and more, to automate your marketing strategies for your online courses site.  

Key features:

  • WordPress block editor interface for course building
  • Add lessons, categories, topics, embed images, videos and more
  • Customizable content dripping
  • Flexible membership rules to control access to courses 
  • Sell course individually or as course bundles
  • Restrict content based on membership levels, and membership rules
  • Seamless integration with email marketing services such as ConvertKit, MailChimp, Drip, and more
  • Seamless integration with payment gateways including Stripe, Authorize.Net, PayPal, and many more
  • Customizable content 

You can use our step-by-step guide on how to set up a membership site with MemberPress to get started with your online courses site.

Price: 

MemberPress Courses is an add-on for MemberPress. You will need to buy MemberPress for the MemberPress Courses add-on. The basic plan starts at $249 for 1 site license with 1-year support and updates, the plus plan at $399 for 2 sites, and the pro plan at $549 for 5 sites.

No matter which of these best LMS plugins you choose, you can’t go wrong – they are the most popular amongst the WordPress community and are highly recommended! It all comes down to the features that suit your brand’s need the most. Tell us which one would you choose to launch your online courses on WordPress in the comments below.

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Francisco
Francisco is a WordPress Jedi, Digital Marketing Wizard and Growth Expert. He has been working with BuddyBoss for the last couple of years and contributing to their fantastic growth! His mission is to help businesses grow by using his expertise in digital marketing growth and content creation to develop strategies that will take your business to the next level!
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