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

Sven Scheuerle Last updated 12.04.2021
9 Min.
Last updated 12.04.2021

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" stands for "learning management system". Basically, an LMS is 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. 

Functions to watch 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 allow 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 compared

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. To create certificates, surveys or quizzes, for example. 

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

So you can earn money with your course, PayPal is already integrated in the free version of LearnPress. A paid add-on is also required to use other payment methods such as Stripe or credit card.

If you want 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 features at a glance: 

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

In the LearnPress plugin settings you can change the configuration of your course pages and, of course, the individual lessons. You also determine what's displayed on the profiles and set up your payment method and your automated emails here too.

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. Professional training can be conducted with the plugin and the progress of individual participants can be tracked. 

LearnDash also offers a number of additional functions, such as focus mode. This helps participants work through the course lessons in an even more concentrated way without distractions. Moreover, LearnDash can be wonderfully combined with the forum plugin bbPress or membership plugins like MemberPress.

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 looks like, watch the video from the creators below:

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PGlmcmFtZSBsb2FkaW5nPSJsYXp5IiBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LnlvdXR1YmUtbm9jb29raWUuY29tL2VtYmVkLzl6a1owcVpuR1IwIiBhbGxvdz0iYWNjZWxlcm9tZXRlcjsgYXV0b3BsYXk7IGVuY3J5cHRlZC1tZWRpYTsgZ3lyb3Njb3BlOyBwaWN0dXJlLWluLXBpY3R1cmUiIGFsbG93ZnVsbHNjcmVlbj0iIiB3aWR0aD0iNTYwIiBoZWlnaHQ9IjMxNSIgZnJhbWVib3JkZXI9IjAiPjwvaWZyYW1lPg==

Courses can be purchased by participants individually or as a subscriber. The payment methods available include PayPal, Stripe and also 2Checkout. 

Main features at a glance: 

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

LearnDash is available for a fee and offers 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 site license, unlimited courses, unlimited users, certificates/awards
  2. PLUS PACKAGE: 10 site license, unlimited courses, unlimited users, certificates/awards
  3. PRO PACKAGE: 25 site license, unlimited courses, unlimited users, certificates/awards

Sensei

WordPress  LMS plugin "Sensei"

The LMS plugin Sensei is a very simple and free tool from Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce and many other WordPress plugins.   

The Sensei plugin offers all important functions you need to create 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, e.g. to manage individual participants' memberships or create certificates. So you're able to sell your course afterwards, you also have the option to integrate WooCommerce

In addition, Sensei can be easily used in any WordPress theme. The creator recommends particular themes, including Divi, Generate-Press or Flatsome

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

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

Main features at a glance: 

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

In the Sensei plugin settings you can define the lesson pages you've created and configure 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. Creating online courses is easily and uncomplicated. A flexible course builder with drag-and-drop function is available to help. Individual courses can be easily exported with this LMS plugin and imported into other projects as required. 

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

The plugin also allows you to create individual member areas. Course content is then 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 use WooCommerce to process your payment transactions. It's also possible to integrate MailChimp for sending mails or WPForms or 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 a paid tool and offers three different licenses. The licenses differ 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 site license, standard support, individual add-ons
  2. Universe Bundle: 5 site license, priority support, selected add-ons included (design, e-commerce, marketing, form).
  3. Infinity Bundle: Unlimited site license, priority support, all available add-ons included

Teachable

Learning management system "Teachable

Teachable is not a classic LMS plugin. I still wanted to include this all-in-one platform for creating and selling courses in the comparison, however, 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 creating the courses. Course materials can also be easily uploaded via PDF, Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive. Teachable also allows you to create quizzes, tests or certificates for your course participants. 

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

The main difference between the LMS plugins in this article and Teachable is that the latter 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 can integrate your course URL from Teachable via subdomain into your WordPress hosted website or to redirect it there. Unfortunately, a direct integration in WordPress is not possible. 

Would you like to take a look at a sample page that was created with Teachable? I recommend the course page from 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 features at a glance: 

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

Teachable offers 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 courses
Lessons
Testsno
Sell coursesonly with paid WooCommerce
extension
Certificates/ Badgespaidnopaid
Quiz questionspaidpaid
Theme independentis not a plugin
Add-onspaidfree & paidfree & paidpaid- –
Price ($)free$159 - 329free$99 - 999$39 - 299 (monthly)
$29 - 249 (annual)

Final thoughts

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

When you're just starting out with LMS plugins, I recommend trying a free plugin like Sensei. Because as already briefly mentioned above, Sensei is really focussed on the most important functions for course creation. The only disadvantage: if you want to sell your courses with Sensei, you have to use the paid WooCommerce extension. But even the price of the paid extension isn't too high either. 

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 about LMS plugins? Feel free to use the comment function. Do you want to hear the latest news about WordPress, online marketing and Co? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or sign up to 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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