In the previous blog, we have seen the benefits and features of an LMS. We have also seen that organizations, depending on their size and complexity, have three LMS options before them. Among them, the first option is Word Press. Let us see about it, in detail.
Word Press Option
Basic LMS functions can be used by organizations that require simple implementations with limited numbers of users (less than 500 to 1,000) or limited numbers of courses (less than 25 to 50). The price of even an entry-level LMS can be several thousand dollars per year. This price can be prohibitive for small organizations.
The features and functions of an LMS, built using the WordPress website development software combined with Word Press plug-ins that are available, is a cost-effective way to implement a system for this limited usage. WordPress is free. The LMS plug-ins are very inexpensive. Building an LMS using this methodology is a viable alternative for an entry-level LMS.
There are a number of LMS plug-ins available. This document will compare Sensei, LearnDash and Namaste!. There are many options available, and it is assumed the number will continue to grow. So, the caveat is that this paper should be considered relevant as of first quarter 2015, and any organization considering this method of implementing an LMS should research further options when they decide to begin their project.
1. Sensi does not support SCORM, but it does allow for standard WordPress import and export functions. So, course objects can be delivered through the system.
1. LearnDash supports the Experience API (Tin Can) which means that it has the latest functionality for integrating learning objects into an LMS.
1. Namaste! does not discuss SCORM or Tin Can compliance on its site, and so, we assume it is neither. This is a negative if you want to use courses developed by you outside of the Namaste! course development features.
2. Video content can be supported with the WordPress video player.
2. This also means that if you are creating courses using standard rapid development tools like Articulate and Storyline, you can launch them using LearnDash.
2. Exams are supported through another plug-in with various levels of complexity and features.
3. xAPI support is planned.
3. In this author’s mind, using standard tools is preferable to an integrated authoring tool. There are just more potential course authors who know how to build courses with the standard tools.
3. Namaste! supports student assignments and allows for feedback on assignments. This is a useful social feature.
4. Sensi includes a course authoring tool with a variety of course interface templates.
4. LearnDash includes social features such as allowing learners to provide feedback on courses.
4. Namaste! Is a free download. This makes it the least expensive of the options discussed herein.
5. Quiz creation is supported.
5. It has an e-commerce function. You can mass enroll users, upload videos and time lessons.
5. The Reports plug-in is a one-time $27 fee so not expensive.
6. An e-commerce plug-in is available for sale, although current WordPress users may have already implemented e-commerce with another plug-in of their choice.
6. Note that LearnDash has two price points: Basic and ProPanel. ProPanel provides extensive administrative dashboards and reports. Basic is priced at $79 and the version with ProPanel is $99. For the $20 difference, there is no reason not to buy the ProPanel version.
6. The Watu plug-in to support exams ranges from $47 to $137.
Click here for documentation on Sensi features and functions (including setup).
Click here to see all features.
General WordPress LMS Considerations
Many organizations desire to add social functions to their LMS including links to Face book, Twitter and LinkedIn. These are supported by WordPress itself.
WordPress also supports discussion forums. So, discussions between learners and instructors can be supported.
A consideration in adopting a plug-in is the potential longevity of the developer. A question that has come up on blogs is the viability of plug-ins that are completely free or only require a one-time fee. Paying an annual license fee will help support the developer and ensure you have ongoing support and software updates for your continued use of the plug-in.
As another alternative, Learning.net has integrated Trellis with WordPress for client implementations. The user interface is built in WordPress to allow easy updates by the client. Trellis manages the courses and users. Of course, Trellis is not an inexpensive plug-in.
In the next blog, let us see the second option i.e. Moodle. Do share your thoughts.