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wordpress learning management system

No, you’re not really making an LMS

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I had a client call today with someone who was attempting to substitute several systems for a client. They wanted to use WooCommerce, but they needed to use features from at least three different platforms: Kajabi, Mighty Networks, and Shopify.

It wasn't a long conversation but, as we dug deeper into his client's needs, we found something important. He wasn't creating an to take the place of Kajabi and Mighty Networks. He was working on a solution for a few online courses at the time.

I've had this conversation so many times.

Do you really need a (LMS)?

Knowledge Anywhere released a “must-have” checklist for LMS solutions a few years back, and it's great. It's so nice that I'm going to connect to the entire article as well as quote their core list here.

This is their list of “Must Haves.”

The following training forms can be added, edited, and managed:

  • Online training- SCORM 1.2- and 2004-compliant courses
  • ILT Classroom training
  • Self-paced training

The ability to apply or enable the following details or characteristics of a course:

  • Course description – WYSIWYG HTML Editor
  • Course prerequisites
  • Course retake restrictions
  • Certificates of Completion
  • Course Levels –Required vs. Elective (Public)
  • Grading (If applicable)

The ability to add, edit and manage course catalogs, groupings or series by:

  • Assigning courses to course catalogs, groups or series based on predefined user roles
  • Share courses across catalogs and course series
  • Manage course catalog or series display date range
  • Make a course catalog or series public

The ability to add, edit and manage user groups, company divisions, business units and brands with:

  • Automated user enrollment or user import (Excel upload)
  • Automated user deactivation
  • Administration of registration codes for user enrollment
  • Creation or modification of user information/user profiles
  • Hierarchy for the training structure based on organizations, departments, user roles and location
  • Ability to mark a user complete
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The ability to manage user progress and performance with:

  • Course reports –Course completions, course enrollments, etc.
  • Classroom enrollment reports –Course completions, course enrollments, etc.
  • User reports- Active users, certification completion, compliance completion, user login activity, user transcripts

The ability to communicate with users and collect and manage user feedback with:

  • Course surveys
  • System announcements

The ability for learners to access the following from their learner dashboard:

  • Courses and learning plans
  • Course transcript/progress page
  • Course catalogue (for Public courses)
  • Profile/preference changes –Login information, language preferences, etc.
  • The ability to deploy the LMS on the cloud.

That's me when you see all those lines crossed out. When I speak with you, it's evidence that you're not even constructing an LMS. If one of those lines makes you think, “Wait, I need that,” then you may be working on an LMS.

More than 60% of the above list is reserved for extreme LMS solutions.

LifterLMS, LearnDash, and AccessAlly are all good choices if you're creating a serious LMS.

Most people, on the other hand, want to make some password-protected sites, add some videos and maybe a few PDF downloads, and then sell it. That isn't a learning management system. This is an online course (or a series of online courses).

Do you offer an online course for sale

What do you do if you know you're not really making an LMS? The person I talked with on today's clarification call was already using WooCommerce. As a result, I advised him that he needed the membership extension in order to protect sites. Then he wanted something else.

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WPComplete is the name of the plugin.

It does a lot of things extremely well. It holds the basics to a minimum.

  • On pages, it adds “complete” buttons (or posts).
  • It groups those pages together into “courses.”
  • It keeps track of who has finished which lessons in which courses.
  • It will demonstrate that progress as well as create lesson lists for the course.

Simply place the shortcode at the bottom of the page (or wherever you want it), and when the page is released, it will magically produce the completion button at the bottom of the video page.

To be clear, I made this in less than 120 seconds. I'm sure I could have improved the appearance of this, but that wasn't the point. The point was to demonstrate how simple it was to make this when I wasn't trying to construct a complete LMS.

Take a look at WPComplete. Since you might not be creating an LMS at all; instead, you might be creating an online course.

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