No matter which training niche you’re in, you can shift it to online courses to align with the trend. For example, you can hold cooking, coding, or even website design classes online easily using your WordPress website.
Compared to “on-campus,” online learning benefits both students and your organization in many ways. It eliminates the distance barrier, saves them time and money, and brings more flexibility for students. From your side, there is no limitation on the number of students in each class or any worry about providing a fit schedule for all learners.
Fortunately, creating and running an online course on WordPress has never been easier, thanks to third-party plugins. Apart from LMS plugins to organize classes, you also need tools to support other parts such as forums, payment, or document protection.
Today, to help you separate the wheat from the chaff, I’ve reviewed the top 7 most popular plugins for your WordPress online course website. They vary in features, from LMS to content protection and forum plugins.
Before digging into the detailed review, let’s discuss who needs to build an online training website and the types of plugins for the best course.
- What to Look for in an Online Course Website
- WordPress LMS Plugins
- Content Protection Plugins to Secure Training Materials
- Forum Plugins to Build Training Communities
Get Ready with Your WordPress Online Course Website
Before creating a training site, you should have a clear idea of your goal and supportive tools to build the site quickly.
Who Needs an Online Training Website
You don’t have to be a teacher to hold an online course. Learning sites suit schools, universities, and for-profit organizations. If you’re a professional in your niche, you can allow people to sign up, take your course, and earn an income from it.
- Schools and universities
It’s recommended to hold an online course website to attract not only native but also international students. So they don’t have to worry about traveling to a new country, hiring accommodation, adapting to a new culture but still study abroad and earn a certificate.
Elearning also proves a great alternative solution when you cannot organize an offline class due to a pandemic, bad weather, or other reasons.
- For-profit organizations
An online class helps you teach customers how to complete a task or gain further knowledge on a topic.
Take WordPress experts as an example. Beginner guides available on the Internet are not enough to satisfy the thirst of WordPress users. Instead, you can provide them with useful courses about CSS tips and tricks, web design tutorials, or development techniques.
Tools for Online Course Sites
To get started with an e-learning course on your WordPress site, you need help from multiple types of plugins. Apart from LMS, you’re required to install other plugins to protect your training materials, allow student payment, and more.
- LMS plugins – LMS plugins give you a helping hand in managing course content, creating classes, running quizzes, sharing coursework, and accepting payments. But, of course, it depends on the plugins you choose that come with other specialized features.
- Content protection plugins – In some cases, you might want to reserve your hard-to-produce course materials to premium learners only. Still, course providers often spot learners sharing documents with their relatives and friends without your consent. As a result, you end up facing a huge loss in revenue. Content protection plugins let you guard off your training files and premium posts, preventing unpaid users from viewing and taking advantage of them.
- Community plugins – An online class works similarly to an online community. These plugins create an environment for course takers to sign up and become members to discuss the lesson, leave comments, give feedback, etc.
Set up Your WordPress Site
Before installing any plugin, you must have your site ready by going through the whole setup process.
You first sign up for a WordPress hosting account. Choosing the right hosting provider helps improve your site SEO and sales. There are many types of hosting for you to choose from, such as Free, Shared, VPS, or Dedicated. Some big names for hosting providers include SiteGround, Bluehost, DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostinger.
The next step comes to choosing a domain name. It refers to what users search for your site on the Internet. That’s why your domain should fit your brand and be catchy enough to attract learners.
Then, install WordPress on your site. Once done, you can get your site up and running immediately. After that, you can go to the main phase of installing the necessary plugins to build an online course website.
As we already mentioned above, you need several plugins to build a comprehensive e-learning site. The top 7 plugins for your WordPress online website are categorized into three groups: LMS plugins, Content Protection plugins, and Forum plugins.
WordPress LMS Plugins
A good LMS plugin must offer all the necessary features to build a course. They should enable you to upload videos and PDFs, inform students of their course progress, provide content dripping, test students via quizzes and tests, and assign homework.
#1 LearnDash Plugin
Appearing as one of the most popular and easy-to-use WordPress LMS plugins, LearnDash effectively assists you in creating and structuring your e-learning courses. It suits any training organization, from universities to professional training institutions.
The plugin’s drag-and-drop course builder lets you create multi-level and multi-tier courses. You can add lessons, assign exercises, and organize quizzes with ease. In addition, the drip content feature permits you to take lessons based on a schedule.
LearnDash gives you a great chance to engage learners. You can use its automatic notifications to email users based on their actions and behavior in a course. Plus, students will gain points whenever they finish a lesson, which makes them eligible to unlock the upcoming content.
Selling courses is made simple thanks to LearnDash’s marketing and sales tools. Besides one-time purchases, you can offer membership of course bundles to sell multiple courses at a time.
Other key features of LearnDash
- Support various content types such as videos, audio, images, Google doc, etc.
- Create user profiles and manage groups easily.
- Provide advanced quizzing with different question types, custom messages, and question banks
- Award students by badges and certificates when completing a course or performing well in a test
- Report student enrollment, progress, and performance quickly
- Integrate seamlessly with top payment gateway, forum, and membership plugins
Pricing: LearnDash doesn’t have the free version available. You have to pay at least $159 to explore its Basic premium package. You can also access the Plus, and Pro plans annually at $189 and $329.
#2 LifterLMS – WordPress LMS Plugin
Installed on over 10 thousand WordPress sites and receiving a 4.8/5-star review, LifterLMS empowers you to create, sell, and protect your online courses. You’ll find it simple to set up and get started with the plugin. It doesn’t matter if you’re a school owner, freelancer, agency, educator, or entrepreneur; LifterLMS can be your perfect e-learning solution.
The native drag-and-drop page builder lets you build gorgeous courses with multimedia lessons, including audio, video, image, and text-based content. You can also give homework, assign several teachers to a course, and set timers on quizzes.
Monetizing online courses from LifterLMS can be done in various ways. For example, you can either sell individual courses or a membership package for learners to take all of them at once. What’s more, trying the course bundle model will help you boost revenue.
Other key features of Lifter LMS
- Drip content based on learner progress or time
- Have a profile dashboard for students to track their activities
- Import courses from one to another site for migration and licensing
- Collect reviews and testimonials from learners
- Create many areas for students to discuss the courses, from lesson comments to forums, and private coaching areas
- Work well with any WordPress themes and page builders
Pricing: You’re able to download the LifterLMS core plugin for free on the WordPress repository. It comes with many add-ons for you to attract and manage affiliates, integrates with e-commerce plugins, and connects to your email marketing. The individual Add-ons cost you $120 to install on one site.
#3 Tutor LMS – eLearning and online course solution
Tutor LMS has received a lot of love from WordPress users. The number of 40K active installations and a 4.7/5-star review already prove that. The plugin offers all features that an LMS should have to create & sell courses online.
You can add countless elements to your course, from videos, attachments, excerpts, to additional data, summary, and announcements, to name a few. On top of that, the front-end course builder lets you view and experience how your course looks like. This feature is available in the Pro version only.
Once every student signs up on your e-learning system, they will be landed on a front-end dashboard letting them see information related to their courses and activities. For example, they will know which course they’ve joined, their status, progress, notifications, and more. Students are permitted to ask questions about courses from their profiles too.
The teacher profiles make it easy for you to approve instructors for each course. Then, depending on your settings, they can publish studies on themselves or submit them for review before having them live.
Other key features of Tutor LMS
- Create quizzes and add questions at the same time or use preset questions
- Enable 10 question types to vary your quizzes
- Attach multimedia lessons to engage students
- Automatically send emails to students and instructors
- Be compatible with WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads to sell courses
Pricing: Tutor LMS offers a free version for you to download. Pay for its Pro version to explore the Tutor Report, Certificates, Course Preview, Prerequisites, and other useful advanced features. You have three plans to choose from: Individuals, Freelancers, and Agencies which cost $74.5, $99.5, and $149.5 per year.
Content Protection Plugins to Secure Training Materials
Creating course content is essential, but securing them from unauthorized users becomes even more significant. They are either downloadable content or premium pages and posts. You can’t just leave your intellectual products there and put your trust in all students. That’s why you need the PDA Gold and PPWP Pro plugins.
#4 PDA Gold to Protect Training Files
Prevent Direct Access (PDA) Gold primarily protects your WordPress media files such as images, videos, audio, and PDFs from prying eyes. Once protected, unauthorized users won’t access your files via their original URLs. Instead, they will be redirected to a 404 not found page.
Thanks to this plugin and its LMS Integration, you can secure your ebooks and training documents from direct access with ease. This helps prevent file sharing out of your training community. Any permitted students will have the right to open and view your files.
The core plugin helps secure files uploaded to the media library only. If you add your documents to other folders outside the library or on Amazon S3 buckets, use the Access Restriction (AR) extension. It sheds a green light on restricting SCORM/Tin Can modules access to logged-in students.
Most online training classes provide videos to increase learner engagement. Rather than simply protecting them from direct access, it would be best if you prevented learners from downloading your videos.
The Protect Videos extension comes in handy in this situation. Course takers can view the private video without being able to download them. Of course, it applies to videos and audios hosted on Amazon S3 buckets too.
Other key features of PDA Gold and LMS Integration Extension
- Protect unlimited files of all types, including HTML files and videos
- Restrict specific students to accessing their courses only
- Block search engines from indexing your training files
Pricing: PDA free version is available on WordPress.org with main file protection features. To expand its capability in securing online courses, you need to pay $178.8 per year for PDA Gold. The LMS extensions cost you $49.9 additionally.
#5 PPWP Pro to Lock Premium Training Pages and Posts
You can give students private courses via password-protected pages and posts and sell them via WooCommerce. This training model best suits simple training websites. Learners need to purchase the course, receive a password, and unlock their learning pages.
PPWP Pro appears as an ideal assistant in hiding your WordPress content from unpaid users. You can secure a page or post with multiple passwords. Each student will receive a different password to open the training content.
You can set the password to expire after a specific time or entry. This feature benefits you in preventing students from reaccessing the materials once they finish the course.
The plugin integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce via its WooCommerce Integration extension, permitting you to sell your courses without any fuss.
Other key features of PPWP Pro
- Safeguard numerous custom post types
- Gather related training posts into a group and protect them with a password
- Create teaser content with partial content protection to engage students
- Work well with all themes, page builders, and caching plugins
Pricing: PPWP Lites doesn’t take you any bucks to download. Still, if you want to protect training post types, you have to install its Pro version, which starts at $178.8. The WooCommerce Integration extension costs you $69.9.
Forum Plugins to Build Training Communities
When talking about WordPress community plugins, it’ll be a huge miss if BuddyPress isn’t brought to the party. The plugin is currently the most common tool for WordPress site owners to build a community for their users to interact and share knowledge. And so do online course sellers.
This modern and robust plugin centers on building a flexible network for students to create their profiles, make private discussions, and connect with instructors and other students. Of course, they can leave comments and feedback under each course too.
Other key features of BuddyPress
- Come with 15 blocks to build a perfect community
- Create course-specific forums to boost engagement
bbPress helps simplify the process of creating a forum on WordPress sites. Originally brought into life in 2004 as a support forum for WordPress.org, the plugin still proves a lightweight and efficient solution for WordPress communities.
It lets you add a forum to your WordPress site allowing students to interact. You can easily accept subscriptions, create topic tags for learners to find their favorite topics, and enable reply threads.
Other key features of bbPress
- Customize forum templates for your classes
- Come with a user-friendly interface
- Support multi-site forums
WordPress Online Training Website Made Simple
Online course websites bring you a great chance to express and monetize your knowledge and expertise and make money. Thanks to supportive plugins, creating an e-learning site is no longer a complicated task.
We’ve walked you through the top 7 plugins for your online training courses grouped in three different categories. You can use LearnDash, LifterLMS, or Tutor LMS to build courses. PDA Gold and PPWP Pro help protect your valuable training files and content. BuddyPress and bbPress, on the other hand, support forum creation.
Each plugin comes with a set of useful features that benefits you in creating and selling your online course in the long run. So what are you waiting for? Start your first online course on WordPress now!