Our Top 5 WordPress LMS Plugins to Create Your Own Online Course

Sven Scheuerle Last updated 10/23/2020
9 Min.
Last updated 10/23/2020

In this day and age, there's hardly a better way to make money online with your knowledge and experience than by creating and selling online courses or tutorials. Sven Scheuerle shows you his top five WordPress plugins you can use to create your own online course.

To build your own course area, you can choose from a variety of useful LMS plugins in WordPress. These plugins allow you to create any kind of course content in no time at all and make it accessible to your target group. I'll explain in this article what the term "LMS" means and which WordPress plugins you can use to build your courses. 

Caution! Plugin update required

On April 30, Threatpost, among others, reported security vulnerabilities in the LMS plugins LearnPress, LearnDash and LifterLMS. These security flaws have already been fixed. If you use one of these plugins, make sure to update it to the latest version as soon as possible!

What is an LMS plugin and what can you do with it? 

The acronym "LMS" generally stands for "learning management system". Basically, it's a system or a teaching environment designed for the provision of learning materials.

LMS plugins offer you exactly such a teaching environment in which you can create your course content for your users and make it available to them. (Behind a paywall if desired). In addition to individual courses and lessons, the plugins offer further functions such as surveys, quizzes, forums, certificates, tests and much more. 

The functions you should be watching out for

There are numerous good and comprehensive LMS plugins on the market. So it can be difficult to decide on the right learning management system. In the following list, I'd like to introduce you to the functions these plugins usually provide - or should provide, depending on your requirements:

  • Course creation:
    The be-all and end-all of an LMS plugin must of course be easy course creation. Besides a user-friendly editor, the plugin should allows you to upload videos or PDF files.
  • Tests/Assignments:
    With tests or assignments, you can check the knowledge of your users after each course or lesson. This way you can make sure that your content is comprehensible for all course participants.
  • Quiz/polls:
    A quiz function allows you to easily integrate quizzes within your courses. This way you can make your courses more fun for your participants. With polls, you can ask your participants for an evaluation after finishing the course. Of course, you can also include polls at any time during your courses.
  • Email notifications:
    Every modern LMS plugin should have a function for automatic email notifications (all plugins in this guide do). Course participants need to be informed about their registration for the course, receive corresponding access data if required and be regularly informed about their progress.
  • Certificates:
    You can award certificates to your participants once they've successfully completed your course.
  • Add-ons:
    Add-ons or extensions allow you to extend the functionality of your LMS plugins if required. Check carefully beforehand whether the corresponding add-ons are available and whether you need to pay for them.
  • Selling courses:
    If you create a course, you'll certainly want to sell it and earn money with it. When choosing an LMS plugin, you should therefore make sure you can connect appropriate payment providers to carry out purchase transactions. (All plugins in this guide offer this option).

WordPress LMS plugins in comparison

To give you a quick overview of the different LMS plugins for WordPress, I've compared five learning management systems for you and will present them in more detail below. 

LearnPress

WordPress  LMS plugin "LearnPress"

LearnPress is one of the most popular free WordPress LMS plugins on the market. It's a comprehensive and feature-rich learning management system that can be used to create courses, lessons, tests and much more. The available export and import function allows you to export individual courses and import them into other projects as needed.

If the functions in the free version of LearnPress are not enough, you can choose from numerous paid add-ons. For example, for the creation of certificates, surveys or quizzes. 

The WooCommerce add-on is particularly interesting because it allows you to process transactions directly via the payment methods of your WooCommcere account. In addition, LearnPress provides you with a WordPress frontend editor to edit your course pages directly in the frontend. 

So you can also earn money with your online course, Paypal is already integrated in the free version of LearnPress. You need to purchase an add-on if want to use other payment methods like Stripe or credit card.

If you'd like to get a first impression of the LMS plugin, I recommend the video below from the provider. The video shows you how the plugin looks in both the backend and the frontend.

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PGlmcmFtZSBsb2FkaW5nPSJsYXp5IiBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LnlvdXR1YmUtbm9jb29raWUuY29tL2VtYmVkLzNMRGE4dnRESUFrIiBhbGxvdz0iYWNjZWxlcm9tZXRlcjsgYXV0b3BsYXk7IGVuY3J5cHRlZC1tZWRpYTsgZ3lyb3Njb3BlOyBwaWN0dXJlLWluLXBpY3R1cmUiIGFsbG93ZnVsbHNjcmVlbj0iIiB3aWR0aD0iNTYwIiBoZWlnaHQ9IjMxNSIgZnJhbWVib3JkZXI9IjAiPjwvaWZyYW1lPg==

Main functions at a glance: 

  • Create courses
  • Lessons
  • Tests
  • Questions
  • Sell courses
Our Top 5 WordPress LMS Plugins to Create Your Own Online Course

In the Plugin settings of LearnPress you can define settings for the course pages and of course individual lessons. You determine what is displayed on the profiles and set up your payment method and your automated emails here.

LearnDash

WordPress  LMS plugin "LearnDash"

The LMS-Plugin LearnDash is ideally suited for entrepreneurs, universities and training organizations that want to sell their online courses over the Internet. With the help of Plugins professional trainings can be conducted and the progress of individual participants can be tracked. 

LearnDash also offers a number of additional functions, such as focus mode. This helps the participants to work through the course lessons even more concentrated and without distractions. Furthermore LearnDash can be wonderfully combined with the Forum-Plugin bbPress or Membership-Plugins like MemberPress integrate.

A drag-and-drop editor is also available for creating individual courses and lessons. For individual course groups you can even create forums where participants can exchange information with each other.

To get an idea of what a finished course in LearnDash can look like, take a look at the provider's demo video:

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PGlmcmFtZSBsb2FkaW5nPSJsYXp5IiBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LnlvdXR1YmUtbm9jb29raWUuY29tL2VtYmVkLzl6a1owcVpuR1IwIiBhbGxvdz0iYWNjZWxlcm9tZXRlcjsgYXV0b3BsYXk7IGVuY3J5cHRlZC1tZWRpYTsgZ3lyb3Njb3BlOyBwaWN0dXJlLWluLXBpY3R1cmUiIGFsbG93ZnVsbHNjcmVlbj0iIiB3aWR0aD0iNTYwIiBoZWlnaHQ9IjMxNSIgZnJhbWVib3JkZXI9IjAiPjwvaWZyYW1lPg==

Courses can be purchased by participants individually or as subscribers. Payment methods available include Paypal, Stripe and 2Checkout. 

Main functions at a glance: 

  • Create courses
  • Lessons
  • Tests
  • Quiz
  • Questions
  • Forums
  • Sell courses

LearnDash is available for a fee and is available in a total of three licenses. The licenses only differ in the number of pages. The range of functions is the same in all packages.  

Our Top 5 WordPress LMS Plugins to Create Your Own Online Course
  1. BASIC: 1 sites license, unlimited courses, unlimited users, certificates / awards
  2. PLUS PACKAGE: 10 sites license, unlimited courses, unlimited users, certificates / awards
  3. PRO PACKAGE: 25 sites license, unlimited courses, unlimited users, certificates / awards

Sensei

WordPress  LMS plugin "Sensei"

At Sensei is a very simple and free LMS-Plugin from Automattic, the company behind WordPress .comwhich is also known for WooCommerce and many other WordPress -Plugins .   

The Sensei-Plugin offers all important functions that you need for the creation of an online course including lessons. Some additional functions include a question area in the backend and the creation of quizzes.

Our Top 5 WordPress LMS Plugins to Create Your Own Online Course

Sensei also offers you some extensions, among others for the administration of memberships of individual participants or the creation of certificates. So that you can sell your course afterwards also liable to pay the costs, you have the possibility to WooCommerce to integrate. 

In addition, Sensei can be easily used in any WordPress -Theme . Recommended by the provider are especially Themes like Divi, Generate-Press or Flatsome

In the following example you can also see how Sensei looks like in the frontend once you have created a course page with corresponding lessons within WordPress . 

Our Top 5 WordPress LMS Plugins to Create Your Own Online Course

Main functions at a glance: 

  • Create courses
  • Lessons
  • Quiz
  • Questions
  • Sell courses
Our Top 5 WordPress LMS Plugins to Create Your Own Online Course

Within the settings of the Sensei-Plugins you can define your sites for the lessons you have created as well as the settings for the user profiles and email notifications.

LifterLMS

WordPress  LMS-Plugin "LifterLMS"

LifterLMS is an all-in-one solution for learning management systems, which is ideally suited for courses and training. Online courses and lessons can be created easily and uncomplicated. For this purpose, a flexible course builder with drag-and-drop function is available. Individual courses can be easily exported with this LMS-Plugin and imported into other projects if required. 

Our Top 5 WordPress LMS Plugins to Create Your Own Online Course

The plugin also allows you to create individual member areas. This means that course contents are only visible for certain users. It also has its own affiliate program that your partners can use to promote your courses. 

LifterLMS also offers you a variety of additional add-ons. Among other things you can WooCommerce to process your payment transactions. It is also possible to integrate MailChimp for sending mails or WPForms for creating forms. In addition, you can of course also implement certificates, coupons and much more with LifterLMS

The image below shows what a course page could look like for your students in the frontend. 

The main functions at a glance:

  • Create courses
  • Lessons
  • Questions
  • Quiz
  • Forum
  • Sell courses 
  • Affiliate program
Our Top 5 WordPress LMS Plugins to Create Your Own Online Course

In the WordPress backend you can change various settings. Among other things, you can define your course pages and email notifications as well as manage memberships, accounts and integrations. 

The LifterLMS-Plugin is chargeable and can be used in three different licenses. The licenses differ on the one hand in the number of usable sites , the support and the number of available add-ons. 

Our Top 5 WordPress LMS Plugins to Create Your Own Online Course
  1. Individual Add-Ons: 1 sites license, standard support, individual add-ons
  2. Universe Bundle: 5 sites license, priority support, selected add-ons (design, e-commerce, marketing, form) included
  3. Infinity Bundle: Unlimited sites license: Priority support, all available add-ons included

Teachable

Learning management system "Teachable

Teachable is not a classic LMS-Plugin. However, I would like to introduce you to this all-in-one platform for creating and selling courses in this comparison. Because Teachable is one of the most used providers when it comes to providing and selling knowledge and experience online. 

A page builder with drag-and-drop function is available for course creation. Course materials can also be easily uploaded via PDF, Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive. Teachable also offers you the possibility to create quizzes, tests or certificates for your course participants. 

Furthermore, the all-in-one platform offers an integrated email marketing system and an an affiliate program that you as as a tutor can use for yourself. You can also promote your courses with your own coupons. Paypal, Stripe, Visa and Mastercard are available as payment methods. 

The difference to the already presented LMS-Plugins is that Teachable cannot be installed "directly" as Plugin in WordPress . All course content is hosted on the platform itself and made available to users. For this purpose, you can choose between a free domain or use your own domain. 

However, you have the possibility to integrate your course URL from Teachable via subdomain into your WordPress hosted website or to redirect it there. A direct integration in WordPress is unfortunately possible. 

Would you like to take a look at a sample page that was created with Teachable? Then I recommend the course page of Jessica Spraque. Here you can see quite well how professionally such a site can be implemented with Teachable

Our Top 5 WordPress LMS Plugins to Create Your Own Online Course
Source : https://jessicasprague.teachable.com/

In the following YouTube tutorial by Chris Winter you can also see in detail how Teachable is structured in the backend, which functions are available and how easy you can create a course or lessons there. 

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Main functions at a glance: 

  • Create courses
  • Lessons
  • Tests
  • Questions
  • Quiz
  • Sell courses
  • affiliate program
  • Coupons

Teachable offers you a total of three different pricing models. The individual packages differ, among other things, in the transaction fee, user access, support and other individual customization options such as coupons, certificates and much more. 

Our Top 5 WordPress LMS Plugins to Create Your Own Online Course
  1. Basic: Unlimited students, 5 % transaction fee, 2 admin users, product support
  2. Professional: Unlimited students, 0% transaction fee, 5 admin users, priority product support
  3. Business: Unlimited students, 0% transaction fee, 20 admin users, priority product support

Feature comparison of all 5 LMS plugins

LearnPressLearnDashSenseiLifterLMSTeachable
Create course
Lessons
Testsno
Sell coursesOnly with chargeable WooCommerce
extension
Certificates/ Badgesfee requirednofee required
Quiz questionsfee requiredfee required
Theme independentno Plugin
Add-onsfee requiredfree & paidfree & paidfee required- –
Pricekostenlo159 – 329$free99 – 999$39 - 299§ (monthly)
29 - 249$ (yearly)

Final thoughts

LMS plugins offer you a great and easy way to create course content quickly and easily and earn money online. 

When starting out with LMS plugin, I really recommend trying a free one like Sensei. As discussed above, Sensei really "only" limits itself to the most important functions for course creation. The only disadvantage, if you want to sell your courses with Sensei, is that you have to use the paid WooCommerce extension. But even this is isn't very expensive. 

If you already have experience with LMS plugins or if you want to set up your course pages very professionally from the beginning, I can recommend an LMS plugin like LearnDash. This plugin isn't free but it does offer you everything you need for a professional course site. It's also the right plugin choice if your courses are going to be used by a large community. In other words, if you expect hundreds or thousands of users. 

If you're not a WordPress user or if you want to create and host your courses outside of WordPress, then I recommend using Teachable. With Teachable, you get an extremely comprehensive and very professional LMS system that you can use completely independently from other services. 

Your questions about LMS plugins

What questions do you have for Sven or for LMS-Plugins ? Feel free to use the comment function. You want to be informed about new articles on the topic WordPress , Online Marketing and Co. Then follow us on Twitter, Facebook or via our newsletter.

Sven Scheuerle - Independent freelancer and passionate affiliate marketer - has been working in online marketing for many years. He is also a blogger and regularly posts on his blog BLOGGiraffe.de about self-employment in online business.

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