3 Ways to Create Course Prerequisites in LearnDash

If you are using LearnDash and have more than one course offering then you may be interested in building a structured curriculum.

Predetermined learning paths are a proven way to engage learners and to teach them about a particular subject. It is how most educational institutions are structured, especially higher education.

Depending on the needs of your program you have a few options for how you can create your own course curriculum in LearnDash. There are three common configurations that we see most often to accomplish this setup.

Option 1: Linear Path

This method is perfect if you have a couple courses (such as “Part 1” and “Part 2”) that are closely related and it makes sense for learners to complete one before the other.

For example, if one course is an introduction to high-level concepts and the second course then takes those concepts and goes into them further.

What is nice about this approach is that you can effectively “baseline” your learners so that they have the same knowledge foundation before jumping into the advanced content. Universities all over the world do this when they require students to take 100-level courses prior to 200-level courses.

To do this in LearnDash all you need to do is select the prerequisite course from the list and ensure that the “ALL” option is selected.

Option 2: Open Path

While Option 1 is focused on creating small linear paths, Option 2 allows the learner have a little more freedom with the courses that they take as prerequisites.

For example, you can offer a bonus course to your learners but only if they complete at least one course from a predefined group of courses.

If we stick with the higher education example, this would be equivalent to offering an elective course but only after at least one of the 100 level courses has been complete. It doesn’t matter which one.

To do this in LearnDash you just have to select the group of courses and then choose the “ANY” option.

Option 3: Earned Path

This is similar to Option 2 but is different in that it allows for your learners to accumulate points in order to “unlock” access to courses or materials.

You could use this if you have a special bonus course that you want to make available to only those learners who have achieved certain status through passing your courses. You can even use this to create a bonus curriculum (multiple courses), which acts as an additional motivator for learners.

Order doesn’t matter with this approach, but you can make it a factor depending on how you allocate the number of earned points for your courses. In many ways this method can resemble both Option 1 and Option 2.

To use this option you just have to assign a point value to all the courses you have available. As you create your bonus course you then specify the minimum points a learner must have earned in order to take it.

Combining All Three

Having a mix of guided learning along with providing learners the freedom to choose their learning path is a great way to establish buy-in from your students. If they have a degree of control in what they learn then they are more likely to have a vested interest in completing it compared to simply being told what to do.

You can use each one of these options on their own or a combination of all three depending on the size of your curriculum and the subject of your courses.


Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Twitter | LinkedIn

4 Responses

  1. Hi Justin,

    Awesome article!

    May I know why Amazon S3 videos do not show up when put on the video text field when creating a course?

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