WordPress is known for its ease-of-use. It allows users to build websites and manage content seamlessly making it the best open source CMS for web development.
Just recently, the market has shifted towards e-learning opportunities. Learning Management System plugins for WordPress have been on the rise to allow you to add e-learning capabilities to your website on par with the existing content management system.
When it comes to LearnDash vs Sensei, It is the matter of choosing between a customizable open-source LMS solution and a fully-fledged plugin.
Both of these plugins have been in development for several years. They have built up a portfolio of several great features to support learning management on your site. When selecting an LMS plugin for your website, it’s important to look into the following features. So today, we’ll be looking at the following features as essentials when comparing LearnDash against Sensei LMS.
Choosing between LearnDash and Sensei:
Before going into details of each plugin, let’s take glance at each in general.
LearnDash in a glance:
LearnDash is a premium LMS solution with management and quality-of-life features to make e-learning management less of a chore and more manageable.
LearnDash comes with a built-in set of cool features to add value to your site.
- Focus Mode is a LearnDash special feature that helps learners carry on through with course competition and improved content retention. Here, a virtual learning environment is simulated to highlight course content and focuses on learner attention.
- Drag-and-drop course editor interface for managing courses allows you to quickly create new course content and organize as needed.
- LearnDash comes with support from industry experts, including access to analytic information to help cater to your audiences through better engagement and interactive content designs.
- As learner complete courses they get more and more points accumulated. These points can be used to unlock more courses and allow learners to set new learning paths.
Sensei in a glance:
Sensei LMS is an open-source e-learning solution with a lot of customization options. That is, you can mix-match with various other plugins to incorporate new features into your e-learning site and use Sensei to fit your basic needs. Therefore, Sensei plugin itself, offers a limited set of features. It is geared towards developers who want to create a customized solutions and only offers a lot of the basics.
This is the customizability is the beauty of Sensei. It provides a developer-friendly solution with room for growth and customization.
To utilize the Sensei LMS to it’s full, you may need to add-on the following set of extensions. These are optional and you can choose other extensions to manage these as well.
- Sensei Certifications: Allow you to issue certificates to your learners for your courses.
- Sensei Media Attachments: An extension that allows you to embed attachments and downloads to your course content.
- Sensei Content Drip: A premium plugin giving users access to a customized feed for forums and other course content.
- Sensei Course Progress: Lets you track the course progress of your students.
- Sensei Share Your Grade: Allows your users to share their grades and achievements on social media.
- BuddyPress for Sensei: Adds social features to your LMS.
LearnDash is great if you are looking for an out-of-box plugin that handles all your LMS needs for your WordPress website.
Sensei is great if you are looking a highly customizable tool to give you a head-start in development of your custom WordPress LMS website.
LearnDash vs Sensei - Detailed Comparison
To fit the bill, these plugins need to handle some basic important features clearly, such as:
With LearnDash, downloading the plugin and enabling it on your site is all you have to worry about. The developers have thoroughly tested LearnDash with other popular WordPress plugins for compatibility. Therefore, you will have to spend virtually no time on configuration or worry about your site breaking once you add LearnDash to it. Hence, with a few clicks, you will be well on your way to creating your first course.
Sensei offers a different story in this regard. It is notorious for being incompatible with several themes outside of the WooThemes ecosystem and users have reported that Sensei LMS has broken their site. However, on the plus side, if you are using the WooThemes, you are good to go and will likely face no/less issues as Sensei has been developed to integrate well with WooThemes.
LearnDash is the winner here for its easier installation and configuration.
The defining features you’re looking for in an LMS plug-in is its course management features. Namely, the exact manner in which the course contents are organized for the course itself and other courses on the system.
This is where LearnDash shines though. LearnDash supports Courses, Lessons, and Topics. This opens up a lot of options in terms of organizing your courses for a more user-friendly experience where you can divide lessons into bite-sized topics allowing learners to learn in short bursts, which helps knowledge retention in many cases.
Tiers in LearnDash:
In the case of Sensei, the hierarchical structure is set up wherein you can create a Course, and that course can have Lessons. So, what this means is, if you want to create, let’s say a course on setting up a blog site using WordPress, you would have to design the course either with a large number of topics covering specific lessons such as hosting, installation, themes, and plugins. Or, have larger lessons covering multiple topics at once.
Tiers in Sensei:
Opt for LearnDash if you’re gearing up towards detailed courses where a lot of sub-sections in the form of topics will come in handy, you should .
Opt for Sensei if you are looking for an LMS with less-detailed content or without the need to manage large chunks of chapters at once. Sensei’s two-tier hierarchy will suffice.
Quizzes are yet another essential for an LMS. You need to be able to set your quizzes, pull data from a question bank, manage the question bank, grade your quizzes, and much more.
There are two main criteria to look at here, quiz management functions; and the interface as you should be able to functionally create and work on quizzes quickly. You should also have a decent interface to carry out your required actions without having to look up where things are.
The quizzing module in LearnDash is robust and packed with features. When creating a quiz, you can choose from up to eight different types to assess students differently on different topics. Moreover, you can pick questions from a larger pool of previously created questions and plug them into a new quiz with ease. In the case of visual aids, you can use images or videos and embed them into the quiz as well. Finally, there are several locks and tracking mechanisms in place to help evaluate students.
A complete list of quiz features provided by LearnDash is described below:
- Up to eight different types of questions including fill-in-the-blanks, multiple-choice, and free text questions.
- Questions banks to pool questions from. It allows for easy management and organization as well.
- Photos and videos can be embedded in the quiz for better visual aids. These can be used to answer questions as well, such as in matching questions.
- Dynamic questions page view allowing users to choose how they want to see the questions.
- Randomization for questions on different attempts for the quiz.
- Limited quiz attempts.
- Lock progressions if the quiz has not been completed.
- Track time-taken during quizzes and set time-limits.
- Provide visual and text aids for questions in the form of hints.
Sensei, however, offers only a subset of these features and limits some of the more complex add-ons. The features in Sensei are listed below:
- Several question types to choose from.
- Ability to create a question bank to pool questions from or create random quizzes.
- Simple settings interface.
While LearnDash supports survey and matrix-matching questions types, Sensei does not and could limit the type of questions you can use in your courses. Unlike LearnDash, hints are not supported by Sensei for questions within the quizzes. Finally, you cannot limit the number of times a student can attempt a quiz with Sensei, but doing so is possible with LearnDash and will let students take quizzes more seriously.
Choosing between Sensei and LearnDash comes to your functionality scopes.
LearnDash offers more in terms of features.
Sensei lets you get started quickly with fewer options and less complications.
In the case of LeanDash, you have a premium feature called GradeBook. This supports:
- Automatic report card generation
- Automatic or manual grading for assignments and quizzes
Sensei offers an easier grading system out of the box, with simpler settings and administration. Given that you do not have to pay an additional premium, users often consider this a win in favor of Sensei as all automated and manual grading features are supported by Sensei.
LearnDash and Sensei both offer easy-to-use grading tools to assess students based on their quizzes and assignment uploads.
LearnDash comes with course monetization baked into it with lots of options for you to play around with. First off, in terms of payment processing, LearnDash comes with PayPal, Striped, and 2CheckOut options to let users carry out course payments. In addition to this, you can configure different WooCommerce plugins and set up member-only shops.
In terms of selling options, LearnDash allows students to purchase bulk courses through the Course Bundle options, or pay in a rolling subscription with complete control over course enrollments if you want to ensure a recurring revenue stream. Finally, you get access to administrative actions where you can easily un-enroll inactive students or limit course purchases. The plugin comes with a built-in shopping cart as well to let users have seamless purchasing experience for course bundles and subscriptions.
The bottom line is, LearnDash comes with a lot of course monetization customization and configuration which lets you play around with a lot of things already built-in and structure your course monetization under the different methods available to you.
In the case of Sensei, however, monetization options are limited and you need to install the WooCommerce Paid Courses extension to monetize courses on your site, which comes with an annual fee of $129.
Winner is LearnDash for offering many out-of-box monetization options.
LearnDash comes with a variety of powerful administration interfaces that let you manage and handle user information. These include front-end user profiles, automated email notifications to automatically mail your users and detailed reporting and analytics to help you identify the performance of your courses such as user enrollment, progression, quizzing, and grading. Moreover, you can expire content access from a dashboard for users to a course to ensure re-enrollment for continuation.
In addition to these, you have groups and group leader assignments. This allows you to assign group leader and imbue mass-enrollments
Sensei only offers a subset of these features, letting you pick and choose other features through plugin installations in the WordPress store. For instance, rather than an admin panel aggregating all user data, in Sensei, such an interface does not exist and only learners can track course progressions and other user-data through their dashboards and logins.
Winner is LearnDash for offering many out-of-box administration options.
The certification system in LearnDash supports dynamic creation for certificates with information such as first and last names, course names and quiz names, completion timestamps, quiz scores, and average quiz scores with further customization available.
In Sensei, you will have to install the Certificates for Sensei plugin to start issuing certificates for your courses.
LearnDash for offers out-of-box feature for dynamic creation of certificates.
Sensei offers certificates through Sensei Certifications which is a great option and it is free.
Summing up all the features, we can conclude that:
Sensei is perfect for advanced users who want to customize their LMS to a personal specification.
LearnDash offers a premium solution with everything out of the box to let you get started quickly and grow.