LearnDash is a great LMS in and of itself. The course building, organizing, and managing software gives you plenty of robust options to work your way through the course creation process.
However, e-learning is a dynamic field. It does not do to remain static, content with only a handful of features. LearnDash opens new vistas in course building for you through its extensions, where every feature brings a plethora of options for you to utilize, whether course-related, student-related, or instructor-related.
LearnDash is built with WordPress and gives you plenty of independent plugins that can be used to increase the range of capabilities of your native course website. You have plugins like WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads that let you market your courses effectively, or bbPress, which lets you create forums for encouraging discussion amongst your students, and many more.
As a rule, the main functionalities we consider while setting up an e-learning course, include:
- Quick and easy course creation by cloning a skeletal course format and modifying it later as necessary
- eCommerce integration for effective selling of courses
- A social media connect to stimulate student sharing and marketing
- Forums and discussion groups to increase student-student and student-teacher interaction
- Course gamification for boosting learner engagement
- Setting up a membership system to protect your intellectual property
- Drip-feeding course material to your students
While these are all well and good, there are some offbeat features in LearnDash that can take your course up another notch. Here we focus on some novel e-learning hacks that help you leverage the power of your LearnDash course to the maximum extent possible!
Organize Events in real-time
Events have a way of creating bonds that outlast time and distance. Though online forum discussions often provide a viable alternative, organization of real-time events takes inter-class bonding to a whole new level.
LearnDash integrates with Event Espresso, the event management plugin for WordPress, to this end.
The LearnDash-Event Espresso integration lets course administrators can organize live events for students to participate in, both real and virtual. Regular webinars, panel discussions, and more are some examples of events that can be organized for your LearnDash course on your website.
Track student activity by creating groups
There is no better way to increase coordination and teamwork amongst students than by assigning a group activity. Besides, groups make it way easier for course authors to manage a large number of students handily. LearnDash realizes this and provides a solution for the same.
The Group Registration extension for LearnDash lets you assign students to a designated group and track their work as a member of that group. In addition, students themselves can enroll as a Group into your LearnDash course, with one of them acting as the group leader. This group leader then becomes your central point of contact, for all updates pertaining to their group.
Trigger action-based notifications to increase user engagement
One of the greatest worries of course authors is student retention. Even the most perfectly designed course can go only so far in keeping the attention of the students grounded, unless they are regularly nudged into coming back. Your LearnDash course helps you overcome this hurdle by giving you the power to send automatic notifications triggered by specific actions performed by the user on the website.
The LearnDash Notifications extension helps you design and queue email notifications whenever a user enrolls, completes a course, does not log in for a certain number of days, and other such triggers.
Protect the core website by restricting access
Though the Instructor user role solves your problem of restricting core website access to an extent, it still gives Instructors a direct way of approach to your back-end. What if you need to limit course authors strictly to the front-end, giving them absolutely no access to back-end functionalities?
The Instructor Role Plugin creates a new user role ‘Instructor’ to let them create and manage courses. The instructors can access student reports, communicate with them, and they can create courses in their own dashboard and manage students without any access to the backend. Also, if you want to share course creation responsibilities among instructors, you can assign multiple instructors to a course.
With this plugin, the instructors can offer a different design for their dashboard, giving it a unique and frontend-style look.
The Front End Course Creation extension for LearnDash limits user access to the front end. The author can create and conduct the course directly from the front end of the website, eliminating the chances of your website being damaged altogether.
Help your students learn better by enabling them to take in-session notes
LearnDash makes sure that eLearning does not fall short of the actual, real-time learning experience in any way, especially when it comes to note-taking. Remember the days when students had to scribble frantically into a notebook trying to absorb what the professor was explaining? LearnDash courses eliminated that with the audio-video transcripts provided with almost every lecture of the course.
However, that does not reduce the importance of taking notes during a session in the least. Notes are a great way of retaining your thoughts about and during the lesson, and they provide an additional study resource apart from the course material.
There is a slight catch though. It can be difficult for students to take notes during a lesson, as they need to keep switching between windows regularly. LearnDash eliminates this back-and-forth exercise by incorporating an inbuilt note-taking plugin, LearnDash Notes, which lets students jot down notes during the course. These notes can be exported for later perusal as well.
Avoid the Membership minefield by creating a pseudo-membership system
If managing a full-fledged membership system is not your cup of tea, you can opt for setting up simple access levels for your LearnDash course, that protect your content. The Course Access Manager extension for LearnDash lets you set multiple free, paid, levels that can be billed one-time or at recurring intervals.
This leads to effective management of course content, which can be drip fed to your students. The free level setup ensures that trial periods can be offered for a course.
Set up student review and feedback to keep revamping your course
Change is the only constant in e-learning. No course can be stagnant. As a course author, you cannot afford to simply create a course and run the same material time and again. Frequent updates, as per the changing times, are a necessity.
One of the ways of checking whether or not your course is up to the mark is by incorporating student feedback about the course.
The Ratings, Reviews, and Feedback plugin for LearnDash lets you integrate the trinity of improvement into your courses. Ratings and Reviews are an effective way of cementing the people’s confidence in the expertise and reliability of your course. Feedback, on the other hand, is an excellent way of finding out what is good and what needs to be improved in the course. The best part is, the extension allows only the students who have completed the course to register feedback, which ensures that it is genuinely helpful.
Create your own customized workflow by Zapping two plugins together
Zapier, as you might know, is a library of hundreds of apps that can be combined to create your own unique workflow. The platform lets you connect various apps in a systematic manner so that definite end-results are triggered when an action takes place on your website.
For instance, you can set up a workflow where you receive a Gmail notification whenever a student registers for a course, add the student details to an Excel sheet, and set up a Mailchimp account as a subscriber. There are infinite permutations and combinations, once you wrap your head around visualizing the best possible ways of creating a workflow.
LearnDash gives you this world of automated trigger-based-tasks by integrating the LearnDash course with Zapier, via their own integration plugin.
These were some e-learning hacks for LearnDash, used to extend the functionalities of the LMS and push the boundaries of e-learning. Have more such ideas? Let us know in the comments section below!