FAQs: Top 9 Things You Need to Know about LearnDash
New to LearnDash, or considering using it as your LMS? We’re here to clear up the top 9 misconceptions about LearnDash before you get started.
We get a lot of questions from new users and buyers who are considering our LMS for their online course. For many educators, this is their first experience putting together a website, let alone an online course. Others may have more experience with WordPress and its ecosystem of plugins, but may still be unsure how LearnDash fits into it all.
Well, we believe the best customer is an informed one. So we’ve rounded up some of the questions we hear most frequently from new or considering customers, and have done our best to answer them. If you’re thinking of using LearnDash as your LMS, here’s what you need to know.
1. Does LearnDash work with WordPress? Does it need to work with WordPress?
LearnDash is a WordPress plugin, which means that, yes, it does work with WordPress, and not on anything else. WordPress is the top Content Management System (CMS) in the world; LearnDash harnesses those capabilities, and expands them to encompass e-learning as well. If you’re already running your website on WordPress, then choosing LearnDash should be a no-brainer.
2. What about my wordpress.com site? Isn’t that the same as wordpress.org?
That said—some caveats! Many users don’t realize that the WordPress brand comprises two very different components: a for-profit company selling hosted websites at wordpress.com, and the non-profit wordpress.org branch run by the WordPress foundation. It’s confusing. We know.
We don’t recommend users try to run LearnDash on a wordpress.com site. While it may technically work if you have purchased the business plan that allows for premium plugins, it doesn’t run very smoothly.
Instead, our advice is to go the self-hosted route through wordpress.org, and install WordPress on your own domain with your own hosting where you have more control.
3. Will LearnDash take over my entire site? Can I use it with my current theme?
LearnDash is designed to integrate with most modern WordPress themes. This means that you should be able to safely install it on your site and begin using its features without compromising the current design of your site.
That said, there are a couple scenarios in which this might not work for you:
1) You’re using an outdated theme. If this is the case, we suggest you pick something newer, as older themes tend to fall behind best practices for usability and mobile-friendliness.
2) You’ve custom-coded something very particular into your current site. If this is the case, you can contact our support team to ask about your specific situation. That said, if you know enough to deploy custom coding on your site, you probably know enough to make it work with LearnDash.
If this is a major concern, you can also install LearnDash on a subdomain, which should resolve any potential conflicts with the theme on your main site.
4. Do I have to be a developer to use LearnDash?
You do not have to be a developer to use LearnDash. So long as you have a basic level of technical savvy, you should find the setup pretty straight-forward. We’ve built the plugin to have the lowest barrier-to-entry possible, even for those who don’t know how to code.
But, if you are a developer—or if you have access to developers—then LearnDash gives you more flexibility than any of the hosted LMS platforms could possibly offer. It really is the best of both worlds.
5. Do my learners need to sign in with their email address?
For most of our users, this isn’t an issue—after all, it’s rare to find an adult without an email address these days. But that’s just the point: it’s rare to find an adult…
If you’re creating a course for children, then it is more likely that your audience doesn’t have an email address. Unfortunately, learners do need one in order to sign in and take courses. Our advice is to work with parents and guardians, who will be able to provide an email address themselves, or sign up for a simple gmail account to use for the course.
Additionally, there are plugins available to help parents manage accounts for their children. We recommend reading our article, “Using LearnDash with Parents of K–12 Learners” for more info.
6. Will LearnDash help me maintain my website?
Unlike many of the hosted options on the market, LearnDash isn’t a Software as a Service (SaaS). This means you’re purchasing the plugin, as well as related technical supports and updates. However, you’re not paying extra for us to run your site for you. We see this as a huge benefit—as do most of our users.
If you need help maintaining your website, you’ll need to talk to a developer. A qualified developer can also help you with a lot of customizations as well, so that your course does everything you want it to.
7. Does LearnDash store my data?
We don’t do hosting, which means we don’t store your data. This is good on several fronts. First, you’re not paying us to store your data. Second, because we’re not storing your data, you don’t have to worry about us storing your data insecurely. And third, because we’re not storing your data, you don’t have to worry about us doing anything with it that you or your users wouldn’t approve of.
Also, because we’re not hosting any of your content, you don’t have to worry about losing access if you should choose to move to a different LMS.
8. How many sites can I use my LearnDash license on?
Domains and subdomains are counted as separate licenses. In other words:
are all different installations of LearnDash, and each will use up one of your licenses. The number of licenses you have depends on your package. The Basic package comes with 1 license, Plus comes with 10, and Pro comes with 25.
9. What’s the best way to add to my course?
Finally, we often have users who launch a course, but then want to add more lessons and topics to it as they go. Unfortunately, this can cause problems in the way a learner’s progress through the course is calculated. Currently, course progression is recalculated after each lesson is completed, so if more lessons are added or removed while a learner is mid-course, their course progression may shift unexpectedly.
This can cause confusion to the learner, and disrupt their learning experience. More importantly, because progress is calculated when a learner completes a lesson, if the instructor removes lessons such that the learner’s last completed lesson becomes the last lesson of the course, the usual trigger to recalculate course progression never happens. Future updates will remove this glitch, but instructors still risk confusing learners if they add or remove lessons and topics while learners are mid-progress.
Because of this, if you need to add more modules, it’s better to release a new edition of your course, so that course progression for new learners remains intact. On the other hand, so long as you aren’t adding new lessons and topics, it is good practice to keep your courses up to date with the current information.
Do your research so you know you’re making the best choice for your program.
There are many excellent reasons to choose LearnDash for your LMS. However, even we will acknowledge that we’re not the right choice for everyone. We welcome questions, because it means our customers are doing their research and choosing the platform that fits their needs.
If you have any more questions about LearnDash, drop them in the comments below, and we’ll do our best to answer them.