Just a few days ago Woothemes announced a new plugin. And when Woothemes release a new product, it usually is big news.
Here’s what the Woothemes blog post told us:
“Sensei, previously code named LMS, helps you create online courses from within WordPress. Sensei aims to capture the core features of a learning management plugin, while not bloating it with features other existing plugins can handle. Sensei integrates perfectly with themes and plugins!
Headlined by our senior developer Jeff Pearce, with experience in building learning systems, Sensei has been through many iterations in ensuring code stability, load performance, extendability and backend usability.”
One of the eternal missing pieces in the WordPress plugin jigsaw was a good learning management plugin.
That might sound strange since WordPress is so widely used even in education establishments. The truth however is that it is quite hard to create a really solid plugin that is easy to use and has all the features you might need from a serious learning management and courses tool.
The good news is that there is that this vacant position has now been filled, as Woothemes have released their own LMS plugin called Sensei.
Lets take a quick tour of this plugin, I bet you’ll like it and find quite a few few use cases for it.
Sensei works with your current WordPress theme, and requires no modification to the theme’s files. Simply install the Sensei plugin and start creating course contents.
You can create lessons and embed content such as video, plus also create quizzes for your students, and require a pass mark for them to graduate from the course.
Of course, Sensei was designed to integrate natively with WooCommerce, the leading e-commerce plugin by WooThemes themselves, so connecting the two is absolutely painless. So now that you’ve created your courses, you can easily start charging money for them through the WooCommerce system.
Signing up for a course is an easy process, each user will have his own account dashboard, where he can manage all his courses and progress. The same goes for the site administrator. It’s so easy to monitor each student’s progress and also view general course statistics.
Sensei uses the WordPress oEmbed function to display embed codes. Another important thing to note is that Sensei has a built-in language localization system. So you can easily provide your courses in multiple languages, reaching even more learners.
Creating courses with Sensei is a real pleasure, the UI is consistent with WordPress standards so you can jump right in and start creating content, without having to learn another new way of doing things.
Using Sensei is as easy as creating posts or pages in WordPress. Course contents are created with standard WordPress editing tools.
Kudos to Woothemes for creating such a straightforward user interface with this plugin. I can see this being especially helpful since the people creating the courses might not be familiar with WordPress or websites, so it’s a good thing to keep things simple for them.
On the front end Sensei looks great out of the box, however you can also use Sensei’s templating system to achieve a custom look if you want to incorporate a different design.
The Sensei plugin is priced at $129 for a single site, for up to 5 sites you pay $179, and for the 25 sites licence you shell out $279. Nothing fancy about the price in my opinion, you pay a decent cost for a plugin that does its job brilliantly, its neither too cheap nor is it expensive by any means.
Support and Future Development
Mark Forrester, Woothemes co-founder, has highlighted Woo’s commitment to providing timely and efficient support. With the new Zendesk system beginning its third week as the firm’s support management software, most pending issues could be ironed out as soon as March of this year.
“We take product support very seriously at WooThemes and really plan to excel in the support of Sensei as we learn how our customers use this plugin and align it to their needs even closer in the coming weeks.
Similarly to WooCommerce, and dependant on it’s uptake, we plan to extend Sensei through extensions – with very competitive pricing and free additional modules for existing Sensei users,” Forrester said.
This bodes well for the future, I’m sure many developers will be rushing to develop new extensions that build on Sensei, and so the future looks very excited for all of us who have been waiting to publish our courses on WordPress.
This is clearly the best learning management system plugin out there for WordPress. It covers all the basic functions needed, and Woothemes have promised to release more extensions in the coming months.
User feedback will be very important, as extensions will be created based on what users demand. I’m really happy that WordPress now has a fantastic course management tool in Sensei, and plan on using it myself for my own sites and those of my clients.
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