Oh Wow. That was my initial reaction to the update released to the LearnDash LMS plugin for WordPress yesterday, one of the biggest updates to the core plugin that we have seen in some time. In this article I’m going to dive into the new features and discuss some of the creative possibilities that have now been opened up:
The biggest update to LearnDash included in yesterday’s announcement was that course membership levels are now included with the plugin for the first time.
Historically, memberships (to generate recurring revenue for continued course access) could only be created for courses or groups using additional third-party plugins to manage the user membership system such as WooCommerce Memberships or Paid Memberships Pro. LearnDash’s own system for setting up memberships already supports some of the most widely used payment gateway options, including PayPal and Stripe, but there’s also the option to create a membership as a Product within WooCommerce, meaning that the wide range of premium gateways open to WooCommerce are accessible to LearnDash Memberships.
Sub-Groups With Customisable Management Hierarchy
This is a feature that many of our clients have been crying out for, as it opens the door for overall better management of organisational group control and reporting for LearnDash course members who work within a large team or company.
Up to now we have supported our clients with the use of various top-level groups spread across large organisations. This does get quite messy and cluttered as more companies and teams join on to, for example, an independent training provider’s roster.
Now sub-groups can be cascaded under one top-level organisational group, each with their own set of assigned courses and group leaders for reporting purposes. Seemingly this will carry through to the very popular add-on for Group Management built by Uncanny Owl, as they announced a major update to their plugin prior to the release of LearnDash 3.2.
Protection of Pages or Posts Based On Group Membership
This is an excellent site-wide customisation option for LMS developers. Though options have existed for some time to allow for content to be tailored to either course users or group members based using LearnDash’s own shortcodes, this new ability goes even further by dictating access to specific posts or pages based on enrolment into a group itself. The option allows for a custom message to be displayed to any non-member user on said page or post, but I would imagine that a hook/filter exists to take the action even further by perhaps creating custom redirection rules.
Course editing features for Group Leaders
This is an interesting addition, and not one I see being widely used particularly by our clients.
The ability to grant access to ‘privileged role’ users to build courses on a LearnDash platform, for which they don’t specifically have admin rights to control, has been possible for some time with the Instructor Role For LearnDash plugin built and managed by Wisdmlabs. This third-party plugin offers far more options and additional features (commission tracking, reporting options etc) than what LearnDash have opened up today, as it seems the main thing that group leaders with this privileges can do is access the WordPress backend to edit the courses for which they have created. Seeing the backend is not something our clients typically like their customers to see in any capacity.