Teaching online in 2021 is not only in high demand (thank you, all of 2020), but it’s actually becoming the preferred method of learning for students, both young and old.
The thing is: sometimes it can be highly overwhelming. Some LMS systems go over the top and make the process intimidating, and that’s not what learning should look like.
In this WP Courseware review, we’re going to explain why it’s probably the best way to incorporate learning into your WordPress site. Not only does it not overwhelm your students, but the way that it integrates into your WordPress site will have you installing it before you’re even done reading this guide.
What is WP Courseware?
WP Courseware is in a weird space, because while they appear to be an LMS, they’re also actually a plugin for WordPress.
This blended learning experience allows you to turn content on your WordPress website into courses.
Activate a paywall to receive compensation for access to your content, or turn your pre-existing content into a course by selecting a few options after plugging it in.
You can track student progress, get membership signups, and create quizzes to help track your students’ progress even further. It’s a complete learning management system built into your WOrdpress site.
Why Use WP Courseware?
Do you have pre-existing content that gets tons of traffic and engagement, but isn’t making you any more?
That’s basically 95% of the internet. If people find your content to be inspiring enough to stay on the page and read everything, then you’ve already made a course, you just don’t have it optimized yet.
What WP Courseware does is turn that content into a course, so you go from blog owner to top-tier educator in no time at all. You should use WP Courseware if you already have a library of content and you’re trying to monetize it properly.
WP Courseware is also good for corporations, companies, individuals and blog owners. It can be used to make instructional videos and text-based content more readily available to employees, but while also keeping it safe and away from the public eye.
You can use WP Courseware to build your course from scratch, but this is more meant to adopt a payment and membership site after it’s been established than building it from the ground up.
WP Courseware Ease of Use
WP Courseware has its picadillos, as we’ll point out in this review, but its strength resides in its ease of use.
Anyone can use WP Courseware, because the only real prerequisite to using this is being familiar and comfortable with WordPress. Still, there are some more in-depth aspects to its ease of use that we’d like to cover.
It’s a plugin, so installation is a breeze. If you’re just getting into WordPress for the first time, then you’re going to have a slightly longer wait time to figure it all out, but it will still take relatively no time at all.
While installation is simple, it may clash with some third-party apps you have. This is rare, and as such, you’ll have to find solutions on forums and Reddit, because WP Courseware doesn’t really include an FAQ or help section for this. Their customer support may be able to help, which we’ll talk about later on in the guide.
The WordPress interface was designed to help you build a blog, but third-party apps and plugins can change the game a bit.
Setting things up isn’t as easy as we would have liked, but it is doable. You have a lot of modules on the main page of your plugin to toy around with.
Once you’re familiar with the menus, you’ll be able to make your courses and assign your pre-existing content to courses through the menu.
There are a ton of options (sometimes more than is necessary) that clutters things up a little. Once you’re keen on where everything is and where it goes, setting up courses, adding content onto courses, or making entirely new ones will feel like second nature.
WP Courseware Pricing
This is where WP Courseware dropped the ball. You’ll notice that a lot of LMS and plugin reviews that we do here on EdWize include free or basic plans, then two tiers of paid plans with incremental value as you go up.
With WP Courseware, there is no free version, and there is no free trial. You have to do your research before purchasing it because once you do, you’re stuck with it.
The good news is that, provided you enjoy it, it’s only $99 per year. There are some LMS systems that run $300 per month, so while WP Courseware is limited, it serves its function well. Furthermore, you get a 30% discount on your second and subsequent years if you sign up for the annual plan. Just $69 per year, which is less than $6 per month.
How to Use WP Courseware
Everything is straightforward. While it can be clouded with options, you just have to click on the options under WP Courseware on the menu in WordPress, and click add new course to get started.
Here, you can add existing site content into your courses or make new ones. Everything is accessible from the menu on the left of your WordPress dashboard.
Once you click on the menu and add a course, you have the option to display all course modules and units at the same time to allow your students to freely navigate everything.
You also have the choice to force them to complete the course in succession, meaning they have to complete part one before they can view or interact with part two. You can create quizzes within the course building module fairly easily; the overall experience is pretty intuitive.
It’s a plugin, not an entirely different LMS with a separate UI, so content management can get a little clunky here.
It’s one of the reasons that people go with full service LMS systems instead. If you have a lot of content on your site, you have to navigate through the plugin to add it to your courses, which can take some time.
When it comes to managing content once it’s already in its place, everything is displayed in a linear fashion. Unless you have fifty courses, you’ll be able to navigate this fairly easily. A bit clunky, but in terms of plugins, it’s on-par with how a lot of other plugins do the job.
Course structure here is very basic, but then again, what course isn’t?
You design the module, choose whether it’s displayed all at once or in successive units, and add the content in. While there is no bandwidth cap for WP Courseware, there is for many WordPress sites through your host.
Courses are limited by the lack of embedded videos, or the fact that embedding videos costs a lot of bandwidth, which can be taxing on the student experience.
If your course takes off and garners a lot of students, you won’t want half of them enduring endless lag while trying to complete everything. Structuring courses is easy, but including video content in them (the ideal content for courses) is difficult.
There is no email integration. You have to use a third-party app or plugin to encompass this feature, but you can use WP Courseware to make an email list of your students through a collection technique. That helps out, but still falls short of a full LMS.
WP Courseware does not include a built-in forum feature. You would have to do this on your site through a different plugin or app.
What Makes WP Courseware Stand Out From the Competition?
WP Courseware has its success stories that try to set it apart from the competition, but as you know, your success isn’t measured by the tools you use, but what you do with them.
It’s a good tool, but the main reason they stick out is the insanely cheap cost on an annual basis. That cost includes ongoing support if you need it, so the value makes it feel like you’re performing highway robbery. If you get on that recurring annual plan, your operation costs decrease further.
Easy integration coupled with major savings makes this plugin stand out above all else. While the functions can be pretty basic, they get the job done and the plugin works as expected. Peace of mind comes wrapped up in that low price tag.
WP Courseware Analytics
WP Courseware does not offer any analytics, and in a data-driven world, it’s hard to justify that when you want to base your next move off of your previous successes. However, this task can be carried out by other third-party apps.
Pros and Cons of WP Courseware
Not everything can be sunshine and rainbows. WP Courseware is an excellent LMS for WordPress, but it’s not without its flaws. Let’s give credit where credit is due, and point out the hurdles you’ll face if you choose to go with WP Courseware.
- Extremely Simple Interface: You can learn this front, back, and center all within an afternoon. WP Courseware doesn’t have a crazy UI or tons of design elements to get in the way (on your end, it still looks good to students), making it simple to hit the ground running.
- Import Existing Content: Those high-performing blog posts can be put into a course-like structure, where you can offer a plan to let people gain access to, say, 100+ high-quality blog posts for a lifetime cost of a dollar. Whatever you want to do to monetize your content, WP Courseware helps you out with that.
- Third-Party App Integration: WP Courseware works well with a lot of third-party apps and other plugins, integrating well with your pre-existing lineup. Installing something like this only to hit roadblocks and integration issues would be a bad thing.
- Course Builder Ease of Use: If you want to make a brand new course from the ground up, it doesn’t take long at all. WP Courseware isn’t a design tool, it’s about function, and it carries that objective out exceptionally well. Anyone can use this, even if you wouldn’t call yourself proficient with WordPress.
- Course Customization: You’re able to customize your course beyond just setting up “bins” to put content in. Design welcome messages, completion messages, and communicative features within the course.
- No Memberships: You have to enlist memberships and paid-for content viewing from another app. WP Courseware helps you organize and optimize your content for online courses, but they don’t have a way to accept payments at all.
- Zero App Support: Your students are restricted. They can only go onto your website to access content. 50% or more of all internet use is mobile, so when you factor that in, you wonder if this really fits the business model.
- There’s No Forums: While it would be nice to have a place for your students to interact with one another and ask you questions, it doesn’t exist on WP Courseware. They have to email you separately or contact you through another means (perhaps a chatbot plugin for your WordPress site).
Is WP Courseware Worth it in the End?
WP Courseware has its ups and downs, but that’s just sort of the nature of plugins versus full and independent LMS systems.
Plugins still offer an insane amount of value, and their integration is great, it’s just not quite the same as a full LMS.
If you’re strictly running WordPress and you know what you’re doing, adding WP Courseware into your repertoire is going to feel like your WordPress site got a turbo boost. With working WordPress knowledge, this just might be the fastest plugin to learn.