LearnDash 4.0 has just been released — and as the UK’s leading LearnDash LMS development specialists, we were excited to delve into their new features and see what’s new!
We’ve been using LearnDash to build bespoke LMS systems for many years. As one of the first plugins to use WordPress as a foundation for learning, LearnDash broke the mould. The platform continues to enable customised learning management in a way that one-size-fits all LMS systems simply can’t. LearnDash has made it possible to build a personalised learning experience that’s genuinely centred around the learner.
LearnDash continues to be the highest value LMS platform on the market. It’s scalable, easy to use, and their developments are almost always innovative and invaluable to their users.
As a result, we were a little surprised to see that the new features in LearnDash 4.0 are somewhat limited, at least at first glance. Let’s dive in and analyse the key features in more depth.
LearnDash onboarding wizard
The new onboarding wizard makes it really easy for new LearnDash customers to set up their LMS. It configures plugins and groups to give you an out-of-the-box LMS that’s ready for users to add their course content.
The onboarding wizard is a welcome addition for accessibility. Uninitiated LearnDash users can find it tricky to transition from another LMS, especially if they’re unfamiliar with WordPress websites. As a result, the onboarding wizard is a great way to ensure all the required plugins are installed. It also makes it easy to register and organise your learners on the system.
The wizard will also enable LearnDash to highlight its extended features to new users. This has been a long time coming — many new LearnDash customers aren’t aware of how many great extensions are available for the plugin. Although the wizard is only likely to highlight plugins developed by LearnDash themselves, users can begin to see just how versatile and powerful the LMS platform can be. (And that’s before they discover the sheer range of LearnDash plugins developed by third parties like ourselves, Training Spark, and Uncanny Owl.)
The main downside to the onboarding wizard is that while it’s sure to be useful for new users, it doesn’t add much value for existing LearnDash customers.
Who will it work for?
- New users who are unfamiliar with LearnDash and/or WordPress for education
- Users looking to enhance their LearnDash experience with plugins and extensions
- Speeds up admin processes like creating groups and installing plugins
- Improves user experience for new users
- Has potential to highlight helpful extensions and future features
- Only valuable to new LearnDash users
- Only pushes LearnDash’s official extensions
Dynamic learning paths and challenge exams
Learning paths are designed to allow learners to skip past certain sections of a course if they’re already familiar with the content. By passing challenge exams, learners can bypass content if they can prove they already know their stuff. In theory, this stretches and challenges the learner, keeping them engaged and motivated.
Dynamic learning paths are the biggest and most intriguing of the features in LearnDash 4.0. Personalised learning is top of the priority list for many education providers, so allowing learners to skip to the most relevant and necessary content is definitely a step in the right direction.
That said, the feature in its current form is a little lacking in scope and ambition. At present, the dynamic learning paths feature only allows learners to skip past content in a preordained learning programme — it doesn’t personalise learning beyond this.
For example, learners can only bypass the content if they achieve 100% on their challenge exam. So if a learner passes with 85-90%, they will need to complete the whole section or module, rather than just accessing the 10-15% of content they’re unfamiliar with.
We’d love to see future developments that involve truly dynamic pathways. For example, it would be great to have the ability to enrol learners into certain courses or groups depending on their challenge exam results. In this way, the system would act more like an assessment tool, using exam results to determine the most appropriate learning pathway for each learner. This kind of tool would be incredibly useful for FE providers who deliver functional skills and other foundational programmes, where pre-assessment is an integral to the process of placing students on the best progression pathway.
At Discover eLearning, we’ve produced a number of systems that enable providers to offer self-diagnostic assessment through integrating Storyline with LearnDash. This video shows how LearnDash can be used to create diagnostic online assessments:
Who will it work for?
- Advanced learners
- Standardised long-form courses
- Good for advanced learners
- Lots of potential for future development
- Limited scope to develop adaptive learning pathways
- Not suitable for truly personalised learning
LearnDash 4.0: huge potential for WordPress LMS systems
We’re always excited to test and install new LearnDash developments for our clients. Community feedback is key in any development, so we’re looking forward to seeing how LearnDash uses customer feedback to shape and refine these features.
WordPress for education systems like LearnDash continue to deliver even greater learning experiences. While LearnDash 4.0 seems a little limited so far, it has piqued our curiosity for what’s coming next. There seems to be huge potential for further development in these features, so we’ll be watching with bated breath for LearnDash 4.1.