LearnDash Review 2022 – The Leading WordPress LMS Plugin

If you are into the LMS industry, the chances are, you’ve heard about LearnDash. It’s one of the most popular LMS plugins for WordPress. Many leading brands and individuals use LearnDash to create professional LMS websites. In this post, we are doing a LearnDash review for 2022.

If you are not familiar with the term LMS, then let me explain. LMS stands for Learning Management System. Using this technology, you can build an online course marketplace for individuals or multi-instructors. This software allows you to create and publish courses online. You can also monetize your courses with them.

Creating LMS websites was very complicated before. But now, because of WordPress and some amazing plugins like LearnDash, you can create an entire LMS website on your own. You also don’t need any prior coding knowledge.

In this review, we are going to take a deeper look at LearnDash. We wrote about LearnDash in some of our previous articles, but since then, LearnDash has received some amazing updates. And we reviewed some of the top LMS plugins. Therefore it’s only fair that we review LearnDash as well. So, let’s start the LearnDash review post!

Some quick words about LearnDash

When talking about LMS plugins, LearnDash is sure to come up. It makes sense as it is the first-ever LMS plugin for WordPress. LearnDash was built by experts in the eLearning industry. Many universities and educational institutions prefer it. The plugin was created to give everyone simplified solutions to the complex problems when building an LMS website.

If you haven’t used LearnDash yet, then I would like to state some of the features and functionalities of the plugin to get you started. This introduction will help you get up to speed. Although listing each and every single feature of an LMS plugin could take the whole day. For that reason, I want to include some of the most important features.

Since LearnDash has a massive feature list, let’s divide the features into 2 groups. The course creation and the course management.

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Course creation features

Creating courses with LearnDash is easy and fun. When you start creating a course, you’ll be surprised by how thorough the plugin is. The course builder gives you the following features:

  • Lessons and topics for your course
  • Video contents
  • Visual course builder
  • Quizzes with multiple categories
  • Assignments
  • Q&A form
  • Lesson timer
  • Content drip system
  • Course prerequisites
  • Certificate, badges, and also a certificate builder

All these features help you create an amazing course. It would be best if you plan out your course curriculum and quizzes. Then creating an entire course won’t take much time.

Course management features

You can create and publish rich courses using LearnDash, that’s all fine. But what about the management options? Well, LearnDash gives you settings, reports, and statistics options that you can use to observe your course progress. For course management, LearnDash gives you the following options:

  • Detailed reports
  • Course stats
  • Create groups and assign special users to manage each group
  • Automatic email notification that is triggered on user activities

If you connect Zapier with your LearnDash, you’ll get more automation functionalities. If you want better reports and analytics, you can purchase the LearnDash ProPanel plugin which gives you even more detailed reports. It generates better insights for your LearnDash activities and helps you manage your LMS site in a more efficient manner.

You can monetize your courses using native payment integrations with PayPal. You can also use third-party eCommerce tools or membership plugins to sell your courses.

Who uses LearnDash?

LearnDash is a well-known LMS plugin and because of its powerful LMS features, it is used by many universities and educational organizations. It’s also used by smaller websites and single instructors. The following universities/institutions use LearnDash for their eLearning website (including but not limited to):

  • The University of Florida
  • The University of Michigan
  • Infusionsoft
  • WP Elevation
  • Mindful Life

There are many organizations that prefer using LearnDash. And once you see how easy it is to create and sell courses online, you’ll love LearnDash. So we want to get some hands-on experiences on LearnDash and find out what are some of the features that make LearnDash so amazing to use. For our LearnDash review, we will also see what are some of the new features as well.

Exploring LearnDash

Of course, you can’t write a LearnDash review without actually using it. So now I will install LearnDash on my WordPress website and use it to create a course. We will also take a look at some of the other features like course builder, quiz builder, email notifications, advanced settings, etc.

However, do remember that this is not a tutorial but a LearnDash review. We will see how you can create a course, add topics and lessons to it, add quizzes, and discuss various features of LearnDash. The purpose of this review is to give you an idea of how LearnDash works and see some of its features in action.

It might be a good idea to compare LearnDash with another LMS plugin to actually see the special features of LearnDash. We did a piece on LearnDash vs Tutor LMS but since then, both of the plugins have received significant updates. So that might not give you the full idea right now. But that will give you an idea of how these 2 giants approach solving the LMS challenges.

LearnDash installation and the setup wizard

So if you’re using WordPress for a while you know the drill. You need to set up your WordPress website first. Get a domain & hosting or set it up on your local server, then install LearnDash. As soon as you install LearnDash you will be greeted with a welcome page followed by the setup wizard.

learndash setup wizard

You can skip the setup process but you have to go through the settings manually afterward. So, why not take the auto setup? Clicking on the “Get Started” button starts the setup process. The first thing you have to do is insert your email address and your license key.

learndash license validation

Once you insert your email address and license key, click on the “Validate” button. If everything is alright, then you’ll see a green text below the license input box saying that validation was successful.

learndash successful user validation

After that, the setup wizard asks you about what kind of courses you want to make. The first option lets you choose “Just One” or “Multiple”. If you just decide to sell one course, then you can select “Just One” or if you want to create a marketplace, select “Multiple”. 

Next, it gives you several options to choose from. Depending on what options you choose, LearnDash will install the appropriate plugins for you.

learndash setup wizard course information

Of course, we want to sell our courses online. You can either use Stripe or select WooCommerce. If you decide to go with Stripe, simply hit connect or if you want to go with WooCommerce, LearnDash will install the WooCommerce plugin for you.

learndash eCommerce plugin selection

If you’ve selected WooCommerce, the WooCommerce setup will launch after your LearnDash setup is complete. In the end, the setup wizard shows you a summary of the setup. If you want to change anything, you can go back and change it. Don’t worry about these settings, because you can manually access these as well.

So after the setup is complete, your LearnDash plugin will be ready to use on your WordPress dashboard.

learndash mini bootcamp

Right after you install LearnDash, you’ll see a message on the side guiding you to the mini-bootcamp. The bootcamp is LearnDash’s way of introducing to the plugin. You can go to the bootcamp page and watch the video tutorials to get a general overview of LearnDash.

There are 10 tutorials that teach you about course creation, adding content such as lessons & topics, creating quizzes, setting up and registration, and much more. These tutorials are also available on the relevant options. For example, if you click on courses, you’ll find the “Creating a course with LearnDash” tutorial from BootCamp.

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Let’s setup our theme

Ok, so what about themes and other integrations? We will use the Astra theme as it has good integration for LearnDash. In fact, if you look at the starter themes of LearnDash, you’ll see that Astra and Kadence themes are recommended by LearnDash.

learndash astra starter themes

You can also search for “LearnDash” when you are looking for themes, and there’ll be lots of LearnDash themes suggested to you. You can use any of those. But Astra offers 180+ starter templates and you can import any templates. You just have to install the importer plugin.

learndash astra theme

So, we imported LearnDash Academy, an LMS starter site based on LearnDash. There are so many LMS or education-based themes available. You can go ahead and pick one.

You can also check out our post on the best themes for LearnDash.

Creating a course with LearnDash

We have everything set up, now let’s create a course with LearnDash. For demonstration, we are going to develop a course for WordPress So, from your WordPress dashboard go to LearnDash > Courses.

learndash courses page

If you’ve imported a good theme, you might see some demo courses here. In our case, we have 3 demo courses. If you hover your mouse over these courses, you’ll see options to edit, view, delete, clone, build, etc. options. But we want to create our very own course. Se we are clicking on the “Add New” button on top which takes us to the course creation page.

As soon as you enter the course creation, you’ll see the course content area where you can put your course title and descriptions. It will be very familiar as this is the WordPress editor. There is a navigation tab on top where you can cycle between the course page, builder, and course settings. 

The course page mainly consists of the course description and overview. If you want to add lessons and topics, click on the builder. For adjusting the settings of the course, you can do that from the settings tab. We will look at each of these tabs starting from the settings tab.

Course settings

In the settings tab, you’ll have access to various course-related settings. The first option is the course access settings. It controls how users access your course. You can customize the following options here:

In the settings tab, you’ll have access to various course-related settings. The first option is the course access settings. It controls how users access your course. You can customize the following options here:

  • Access Mode: This option lets you decide if you want to make it a paid or free course. There are several payment settings for a paid course. You can choose “Buy now” and put in your course price and course enrollment URL.

You can also choose “Recurring” if you want to create a course that students must pay for on a monthly or weekly basis. You can set the billing cycle here. You can also sell a trial course that expires at your defined timeline.

learndash setting course price

Generally, this is the standard method if you want to make paid courses. However, make sure to setup your payment method. LearnDash has built-in PayPal and Stripe. You can also install WooCommerce to sell your courses. For that, you need an extra addon from LearnDash.

Since we want to sell a course, we are selecting the “Buy Now” option.

  • Course Prerequisites: This option lets you choose which courses the students must complete in order to enroll in this course. For our example course, we don’t want a prerequisite. So we are not going to enable this option.
learndash course prerequisites
  • Course points: You can create a point system for your LMS website. For completing certain actions like completing a course, you can award them with points. You can also set a required amount of points which they need in order to enroll in this course.

We want to create a simple course so we don’t want this feature. So we are not going to enable it.

  • Course Access Expiration: You can set a definite time period after which the course will expire and students can no longer access this course.

The next portion is the course display and content options. In this section, you get the following options:

  • Course Material: If you enable this option it will bring up a WordPress editor. Here you can write what materials will be included in this course. This looks great and we are going to include some text here and check out later how it looks.
  • Course Certificate: This is the dropdown box that lets you choose a certificate that you built. For now, it’s empty because we haven’t created any certificate. But LearnDash introduced a certificate builder in March 2020, that you can download for free. Using this builder you can create and customize certificates. However, this certificate builder is only compatible with LearnDash
  • Challenge exam show: This is a new feature that was introduced in LearnDash 4.0. It lets the user skip ahead of a course by answering a set of questions prior to the course. You can of course create multiple sets of questions from the “Challenge Exam” option on your WordPress dashboard.
LearnDash challenge exams

Then to add the challenge exam, you can do it from the settings option. This is a great new addition to LearnDash but we won’t use it right now.

  • Course Content: You may choose to view course contents from this option.
  • Custom Pagination: You may choose your own custom pagination system and select how many lessons and topics will be displayed per page.

The next settings option is the Course Navigation Settings where you can choose your course progression system. You may choose:

  • Linear: If you select this option then the user must go through a course sequentially.
  • Free form: If you select this option then the user can freely move through the course in any order they want. There is no sequence.

By default, Linear is selected and I prefer this option as well.

The final option is the course user.

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Course page

Now let’s get back to our course page and name our course. We are naming our course “WordPress Masterclass”. In the content section, you can also add some descriptions to your course.

course title and description

In the description, you can add details regarding what the course is about, what the students will be learning, who is this course for, etc. So we added our course title and description, now let’s move on to the course builder.

Builder

LearnDash course builder with no lessons and topics

Now, this is the important part where you can add topics and lessons to your course. Once you open the builder, you’ll see it is divided into 3 parts, lessons, topics, and quizzes. So you start by creating a lesson and then, add one or more topics to that lesson. Let’s see how this works.

learndash lessons

So we added multiple lessons to our course by simply clicking on the “New Lesson” button. You can also rearrange these lessons using the up & down arrows beside each lesson. It is also possible to drag and drop. You just need to click and hold the dots (𓃎) between the two arrows.

In this way, you can add as many lessons to your course as you want. Ok, so we have lessons now, what about topics? To add a topic, you need to click on the down arrow (˅) and you can see the option to add a topic and quiz. Click on the “New Topic” button and then give your topic a name.

how to create lessons and topics in learndash

In this way, you can add multiple topics to your lessons. Once you are done, expand another lesson in which you want to add more topics. Then following the same process keep adding topics. The number of topics in a lesson is indicated by a bracket at the end of the lesson name.

👉 How to Create a Course in LearnDash

Alternate way for adding lessons: From your WordPress dashboard go to the lesson option and click on “Add New”. This will open up the WordPress block editing screen that you’ve seen on the course creation page.

adding new lessons from lessons page

From here you can give your lesson a name, and add texts and images to your lesson. But after you’re done, click on “Publish” to save your lesson.

LearnDash lesson builder

Now go back to your builder and on the right side of your screen, we can see the lesson that we just created. If you’re wondering why only one lesson is here, then don’t worry. This section only has the lessons that aren’t added to this course. You can check to mark the lesson and click on the “Add” button to add it to a course. you can also drag and drop the lesson on the course list as well.

drag and drop lessons in course builder

We have all the topics and lessons but what about lesson contents? Topic contents are the main contents as students will be going through these topics in order to complete a lesson. 
You can edit your topics just like lessons. You can go to LearnDash > Topics from your WordPress dashboard and you’ll see all the topics that you created. You can hover your mouse over any of these topics and click on edit to add content to it. This will bring up the WordPress block editing screen.

editing topics in learndash

Alternatively, you can also access this screen from the builder. Besides the lesson, click on the Edit button on the right side to go to the topic editing screen.

learndash course editor

You can use any method you are comfortable with. So, after opening up the topic builder, you can give a title and description, but we want to add videos. To add a video, click on the “Settings” tab right next to “Topic Page”.

adding video in learndash topic settings

On this page, you’ll find various options:

  • Topic Materials: If you want to add materials to your topic such as PDF files, infographic images, etc. you just need to enable this button. Next, you can include your files using the WordPress block editor.
  • Video Progression: Here you can input the URL, iFrame, or shortcode for a video. It can be from YouTube, Vimeo, etc. You can also select one of the 2 display timings.
  • Autostart: If this option is enabled, the video will start automatically as soon as the page loads.
  • Video Control Display: Enable this option to make the controls of the video visible so the students can pause, forward, and rewind the video.
  • Video Paused on Windows Unfocused: If this option is enabled, the video will be paused when the user switches to another tab of their browser.
  • Video Resume: If you enable this option, the video resumes from the exact spot where the student left it last time. This uses cookies.
  • Assignment Uploads: Enabling this will allow your students to upload their assignment files to this particular topic. You can also enable assignments for a full lesson. To enable this option you must enable the Topic Timer option and the Video Progression option.
  • Topic Timer: Enabling this option activates a timer chosen by you. Until this timer expires, the topic cannot be marked as complete. However, since this option contradicts the video progression and assignment options, you cannot enable this while one or both of those options are enabled.

Of course, there are other options to explore, but we just want to add the URL of our YouTube video. You can also upload videos from your computer to your LearnDash topics. So using this setting we are going to add videos to our topics.
Now before adding quizzes we want to check how our course looks. So we are going to click on “Publish” and then take a look at our course.

learndash course demo

Astra has already added our course on the front page. Just click on it and you can see how the course looks. As you can see, the title of the course appears on the top followed by the description of the course. If you scroll down, you can also see the course lessons and the topics within them. This is displayed as a part of the course contents so that students can see what they’ll be learning. You can disable this option but we have kept it for demonstration purposes.

learndash course contents from frontend

Just click on the “Expand” button and you can see the topics we created.

expanding lessons to see topics

Let’s click on a topic and see how it looks.

learndash topic page

This is what the course overview looks like. However, if a student enrolls in a course, the course page will be different. You can try to enroll in a course and check out how it looks from a user’s perspective. 

You can also enable the “Focus Mode” that changes the design of the course page. It also hides the header and footer so that students can concentrate on the lessons more. Here is a screenshot from LearnDash’s documentation to give you an idea of what the focus mode really looks like.

learndash focus mode example

Adding Questions

Now let’s add quizzes to our course. To add questions, you can follow the same method as you did for topics and lessons. You can access questions from your WordPress dashboard and create quizzes from there. You can create quizzes for your topics or you can create quizzes for each lesson.

creating quizzes in LearnDash

Let’s create some quizzes for our lessons and topics. From the WordPress dashboard go to LearnDash > Quizzes and click on Add New which will take you to another page that looks similar to the course builder. From here, we are giving our quiz a title and a description, then we’re moving on to the builder.

From here we’re clicking on the “New Question” button to create our quiz. Once the question is created, a red warning mark appears letting us know that there are some issues with our question. Well obviously, since we haven’t written our quiz or selected our quiz category.

So let’s select our quiz category first. From the dropdown on the right, we can see that there are 8 quiz categories. These are

  • Single choice
  • Multiple choice
  • Free choice
  • “Sorting” choice
  • “Matrix sorting” choice
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Assessment
  • Essay/Open Answer

We are going to select a single choice because we want to create a simple quiz. So after selecting the category, write your quiz, and add some options to your single-choice quiz. You can drag and drop the quiz options to rearrange their order. 

After that, select the correct answer. You can also assign how many points will be awarded to the student upon answering the quiz.

learndash quiz builder

After you finish, you can click on publish, or you can click on the “Settings” tab and connect this quiz to your lesson or topic.

LearnDash quiz settings

Like this, you can create multiple quizzes and then connect those to your lessons or topics. Alternatively, you can just create multiple quizzes and then go to your quiz builder, and from there, drag and drop your quizzes to your relevant lessons or topics.

drag and drop in quiz builder

You can also create a group of questions and name those as topic final or course final quiz. Then add those in the “Final Quizzes” section to create a final quiz.

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Some cool features of LearnDash

While exploring LearnDash, we found some really cool features that are worth mentioning. While all the LMS plugins have a similar process of creating courses, managing those courses is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Visual Course Builder

As we were building our course, we saw the visual course builder and how helpful it is. It lets you see how many topics your course has and you can add lessons and quiz to your topics. You can also drag and drop these elements to re-organize them in any order you wish.

If you have your lessons and quizzes ready, you can simply come to the course builder and then easily connect all of these with the course.

Course create wizard

When talking about the cool features of LearnDash, it is essential to mention the Course create wizard. This is truly an innovative and unique feature of LearnDash. This feature allows you to enter a URL of a YouTube playlist, a Vimeo Showcase, or a Wista Project and create a course easily. To access this feature, simply go to LearnDash > Courses from your WordPress dashboard. Then click on the “Create from Video Playlist” button.

LearnDash course create wizard

Then you’ll find an input box to paste in your playlist URL. Just simply copy and paste your YouTube, Vimeo, or Wista playlist and click on the “Load the playlist data” button and watch the magic happen.

creating a course from a video playlist

Remember, you can only use the URL of:

  • A YouTube Playlist
  • A Vimeo showcase
  • A Wista Project

Just keep in mind that you need to put in the URL of the playlist and not an individual video from the playlist.

The Course create wizard automatically loads all the data of the playlist and creates the course lessons corresponding to each of the videos in the playlist. From there, you’ll be presented with the course access settings page that we’ve discussed before.

This is truly an amazing feature. Create your YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistra playlist and put in the URL in LearnDash to quickly create a course.

Course navigation settings

You can also choose how users can navigate through your course from the course settings page. You can choose Linear or Free Form. If you choose linear, users can progress through the course in the designated step sequence.

If you choose Free Form, users can navigate through the course without following the designated step sequence.

learndash course navigation settings

Video progression system

If you choose to add videos to your course contents, then LearnDash’s video progression system will allow you to add self-hosted or external videos (from YouTube, Vimeo, etc.). We discussed this feature when we were building our course.

learndash video progression system

You can also tweak the settings so that students must watch the whole video before they can mark the lesson as complete. You can attach a time limit, until that time limit is reached the video lesson cannot be completed. You can also use Presto Video alternatively. Although we haven’t discussed Presto as you can already see there are so many options to explore. You can go through each of these settings to get a better understanding of your course builder.

Unique Notification Triggers

LearnDash also has some cool email notification triggers that you can set. From your LearnDash settings, go to the Emails tab and you can set the triggers for your emails.

Learndash review email triggers

You can also click on manage to edit the emails that will be automatically sent to your users when the respective action is triggered.

Extra Addons

LearnDash has a large collection of extra add-ons that are available to the users. In general, LearnDash provides you with the optimum features and settings that are essential for creating an LMS website. But if you feel that it’s not enough, you can look for more addons from LearnDash > Add-ons.

LearnDash review addons

There are several add-ons to choose from. You can also use third-party addons as well because LearnDash has good compatibility with other plugins.

LearnDash ProPanel

Another amazing thing that we must discuss is LearnDash ProPanel. We mentioned in the beginning about the ProPanel plugin. It helps you get all the important data and statistics regarding your LMS website. It helps you manage and view your LearnDash activities from a new dashboard. 

LearnDash Pro panel

After you install and activate LearnDash ProPanel, go to your WordPress dashboard. You will find the ProPanel widget along with other WordPress notifications (if you have those enabled). 

Since we just created our LMS website for demonstration purposes, we don’t have much going on here, but once your site is live and running, you’ll see all the activities from this single panel. This helps you better organize and manage your LMS website.

Although to use ProPanel, you have to purchase it separately if you’ve purchased the Basic LearnDash package. But if you’ve purchased any of the other two packages, then ProPanel will be included. The cost of these packages is as follows:

  • PLUS Package – $189
  • PRO Package – $329

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Pricing

Finally, it all comes down to the price. This is the part where we can really think about how much value are we getting. Although LMS plugins are normally costly since these plugins are very feature-rich. Well, the good news is, that LearnDash is comparatively far cheaper than other SaaS alternatives.

There are 3 packages in total, the Basic, Plus, and the Pro package. The basic package is $159. It can be used for 1 site and won’t have ProPanel.

learndash pricing

You can go with the basic package if you are only aiming to build one website. But generally, the other two packages, the PLUS, and the PRO are great if you’re looking to build multiple LMS websites.

You can also check out our article on “How much does it cost to create an LMS website” to get a better idea of the cost of creating an LMS website.

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Conclusion

So that wraps up our LearnDash review 2022. LearnDash gives you many features at your fingertips so you can create the perfect LMS website you dream of. Although we haven’t used any extra plugins in our demonstration, you can use those extra plugins if you want. You can use Elementor, and other plugins as well.

Combining LearnDash with the right theme, you can create an amazing LMS website. So go ahead, give LearnDash a try, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. There’s a reason why LearnDash has been considered one of the top LMS plugins in the market and through our demonstration, we can see why. It’s easy to use and you can build engaging courses.

So what’s your thought on LearnDash and what do you think about our LearnDash review for 2022. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!


Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links and we may receive a small commission if you purchase something by following them. However, we recommend services/products that we believe good to serve your purpose.

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