Uncanny Groups 3.10: Easier classroom management

There’s one thing in our Uncanny Groups plugin that I felt had been a gap for some time, not just in our plugin but in WordPress in general: Why do users always need a valid email address to set up an account?

The answer is straightforward, of course, it’s an identifier and allows users to reset their passwords independently. But in many K-12 classrooms, manufacturing and industrial environments, students simply don’t have email addresses. This makes using LearnDash and our plugins exceedingly difficult.

We did offer a workaround for CSV imports; files can include a password column and this password would be set for new users, allowing administrators and Group Leaders to create users that didn’t actually need an email address. With this approach, account info (email and password) could be set up and given to students directly so that setting up a password by email confirmation wasn’t needed. Privacy concerns aside, this at least offered a path for students without an email address to use LearnDash and our plugins.

CSV files are hard to work with though and outside the technical abilities of many Group Leaders. Enter Uncanny Groups for LearnDash 3.10.

Password field in Add Users

New in the 3.10 release is the ability for Group Leaders and Administrators to set passwords for new users when they add them. This applies to adding users individually and adding multiple users at once. It sounds simple, but giving teachers, managers and instructors an easy way to set new student passwords means that a valid student email address is no longer required.

Instead, Group Leaders can simply set up a fake email address (e.g. [email protected]) along with a password and the student associated with that account can now sign in and take courses.

Student passwords for LearnDash Groups

There are some caveats:

  • Once set, students and Group Leaders cannot change passwords (don’t forget to store a record of the password!)
  • Students without a valid email address cannot receive notifications or announcements
  • Passwords can only be set for new users; if a password is set for an existing user it will be ignored

And there’s a bonus (also a huge security risk, use this cautiously): the #Password token in the new user notification email will include the password set by the Group Leader if it’s in the email template.

Improved WooCommerce order autocompletion

We made a few changes here to make it easier for orders of Uncanny Group products (specifically Group License and Group Course) to be autocompleted. Here’s what we changed:

  • The “Virtual” and “Downloadable” checkboxes on the edit product page are no longer hidden. This makes it easier to override settings for exceptional cases. New Group License and Group Course products default to “Virtual” (not Downloadable).
  • There’s a new setting under Uncanny Groups > Settings for “Autocomplete Uncanny Groups orders”. If this is checked, our plugin will automatically set the order status of orders that include Uncanny Groups (and other virtual products if included) to “Completed”. In some cases a third party plugin was needed to autocomplete orders, so this new setting eliminates the need for a plugin override.

Autocomplete LearnDash group orders

Better links between groups and orders

This might be primarily for our team, but we thought other users would also benefit from an easier way to move between a LearnDash Group and the associated WooCommerce order (if the group was created by our plugin from a WooCommerce purchase). In version 3.10, it’s now easy to see the order associated with a group and vice versa using new links added to the edit order and edit group pages in /wp-admin/. These details, including the purchase history, will make it a lot easier to audit the current status of a group.Uncanny Groups WooCommerce Orders


Fixes and updates

Our plugins aren’t fully compatible with PHP 8.0 yet, but we’re getting there, and this release adds some important compatibility fixes.

We also experienced a very unfortunate (and surprising!) conflict with the Yoast SEO 15.8 update and buying groups from the Buy Courses/Groups page that’s fixed in this release.

Additional details about the release are in the Uncanny Groups changelog.

Tin Canny 3.6: Microlearning for LearnDash xAPI & SCORM courses

It’s time for a new Tin Canny update! Version 3.6 adds support for microlearning using Single Page LearnDash courses, more flexible user details in reports, new column sorting options, a more visible X icon for modules in a lightbox and more.

Single page xAPI & SCORM LearnDash courses

Today’s Tin Canny 3.6 release adds support for something LearnDash and Tin Canny users have been wanting for years: the ability to build standalone courses with Articulate Storyline, iSpring, H5P and other module types without having to use LearnDash lessons and topics.

What does that mean? Well, with most (non-WordPress) LMS platforms, you can upload self-contained zip files and that uploaded module becomes the entire course. A user sees the course name, launches that uploaded course in a new window or lightbox, and that’s it — no digging into lessons or topics first, it’s just the course. LearnDash, however, normally requires that courses be structured into a hierarchy of WordPress posts that requires at least one “lesson” beneath a course. The SCORM or xAPI file would then be uploaded inside the lesson or topic, so students would have to click through a “course” level first that sometimes served no purpose.

LearnDash Single Page Course

Tin Canny 3.6 adds support for our Single Page Courses module in Toolkit Pro, allowing uploaded SCORM and xAPI files right to the course level while still allowing proper LearnDash tracking. Support is available for these content types:

  • Articulate Storyline
  • Articulate Rise
  • Adobe Captivate
  • iSpring
  • H5P
  • Lectora Inspire

The use of Single Page Courses for microlearning does require that the Toolkit Pro for LearnDash plugin be installed, active, and the module turned on.

Customizable user details in reports

We’ve seen an increase in tickets with users not wanting to use our default “Display Name” record when we show student names in reports. Many sites would rather use first name and last name, perhaps even hide email address for privacy reasons. Tin Canny 3.6 allows site admins to choose which values and/or columns should be displayed in user listings of the Course and User reports with these settings:

User settings in Tin Canny reports

Sort all columns in the User report

Adding the optional “Sort by % Complete” setting to User reports some time ago led to requests for sorting on other columns, as it should. This is still a setting we suggest using with caution on large sites, as there is a slight performance hit on load, but if Enable Sorting by % Complete in Tin Canny settings that all columns in the User report will become sortable. Look for the arrow icons in column headers when accessing the User report to sort by column and show current sort settings.

Sort LearnDash user report columns

Other Tin Canny 3.6 changes

To round out this release, here are a handful of other highlights:

  1. The Gutenberg block for Tin Canny content has a new Module ID indicator. This makes it a lot easier to reconcile uploaded modules in LearnDash courses with uploaded modules on the Management Content page in /wp-admin/ (useful when deleting content that’s no longer required or replacing modules with newer versions). With our Classic Editor support this was always easy, as the shortcode included the ID, but now management is easy with Gutenberg too.
  2. We improved performance significantly in a recent update but on a very few number of sites (perhaps 2-3%) our old, slower method of tracking was preferred. There’s now a switch in the settings to use a compatibility mode if some Tin Canny uploads aren’t catching all statements when they’re closed.
  3. Error messages are now more descriptive if an error is encountered during a Tin Canny module upload.
  4. The Settings page has been completely reorganized.
  5. The X icon to close modules in a lightbox has been made more visible.

As always, the full changelog is available at https://www.uncannyowl.com/knowledge-base/tin-canny-learndash-reporting-changelog/

Toolkit Pro 3.7: Usermeta in reports, transcript changes and more

We try to avoid Friday releases where we can, but with the upcoming holiday weekend in Canada and some exciting changes from LearnDash, we couldn’t wait to get version 3.7 of the Uncanny Toolkit Pro plugin out. It’s a big release with several really compelling new features.

Group Drip notification changes

We do need to start the list of new features with a change that Group Drip users may need to make on their sites.

LearnDash is releasing version 1.5 of their Notifications plugin next week, which is a big overhaul and improvement. That’s great news, but because of how it was rearchitected, it does break compatibility with existing notifications linked to our Group Drip module. Any current notifications on sites set up to alert users when lessons are available to the group will stop working, but there is good news: we have a new trigger available to support Group Drip notifications.

If you upgrade to LearnDash Notifications 1.5 and want notifications to be sent to group members when lessons become available via group drip, you must create new notifications with this new trigger: “A scheduled lesson is available to user with Uncanny Drip by Group”. If you don’t use group drip notifications, no changes are necessary.

LearnDash Group Drip Lesson Notifications

Custom usermeta in LearnDash CSV reports

We keep adding more column options to LearnDash reports, and in today’s 3.7 release we’re adding up to 3 new columns that can output any user data you want. If you store custom fields for users in your system, like maybe a department, manager name, job title, whatever, now you can include columns with those records in LearnDash CSV reports using the Enhanced LearnDash CSV Reports module.

Here’s what it looks like:

Usermeta in LearnDash CSV reports

To add these extra columns you will need to know the key for the record in the usermeta table, but if you’re storing custom fields you probably know what keys to use. If you’re not sure, look at whatever is capturing that record (perhaps a form or checkout process) and see if it shows the usermeta key for the record you need.

Certificates in LearnDash Transcripts

We made some really interesting LearnDash Transcript module changes in this release, and before any current users panic, these new records are optional. We know you’ll want to use them, but they can be turned on and off.

First up is the addition of a Certificate column to the Transcript output. It does exactly what you expect; if the column is shown and the user has an associated course certificate, we show an icon with a link to the certificate. This is a really handy way for users to retrieve their certificates, including from courses in which they’re no longer enrolled but do have a completion record.

The Certificate column is automatically hidden from the print view, where it wouldn’t make sense.

LearnDash Certificates and CEUs in Transcript

Custom Credits in LearnDash Transcripts

We’ve been hard at work lately with amazing new features for our Continuing Education Credits plugin, and now that it’s easy to track custom credits, we wanted to make it easy for users to see their consolidated training records. In Toolkit Pro 3.7, we have added the ability to include custom learning credits in student transcript. If our Continuing Education Credits is installed and enabled, and a user has been awarded credits, we will now (optionally) add new rows for those records.

Please note that because records like scores and steps are not applicable for custom credit records, we output “n/a” in those columns for custom records.

Group expiration shortcode

We have offered the Expire LearnDash Group module for quite some time, but we always relied on email notifications to let users know when it was expiring. This made planning difficult for Group Leaders and members, so in today’s release we have added a new shortcode. Here are some examples of usage:

[uo_group_expiration_in] //Show countdown to expiry date if set and user is only part of 1 group
[uo_group_expiration_in group-id="xx"] //Shows countdown to expiry date if set and user is part of the associated group
[uo_group_expiration_in pre-text=""] //Override default "Group Access Expires in" text in shortcode output
[uo_group_expiration_in group-id="" pre-text=""] //Combine the above attributes

When the Expire Group module is enabled this shortcode is available automatically. The default text to include is set from the module settings:

Other changes

As always, all new features, updates and fixes are included in the changelog. Two notable additions are support for Single Page Course settings for non-admins (like Instructors in the Instructor Role plugin by Wisdm Labs) and outputting course-level quizzes in the Course Dashboard module.

Uncanny Groups for LearnDash 3.9 Update

The version 3.9 update of the Uncanny Groups for LearnDash plugin includes some interesting updates that may really transform how the tool is used by some customers. Given the magnitude of the changes, this is also one that we recommend testing on a Staging site first.

Let’s jump right in to what’s new in the release and how it might affect your site.

BuddyBoss Social Group sync

You asked, we listened. A lot of people use the BuddyBoss theme and platform with our Uncanny Groups plugin. BuddyBoss does include a sync tool for LearnDash groups, but it doesn’t work properly when users are added or removed from groups managed by our plugin. It also doesn’t sync LearnDash groups created with our plugin to new BuddyBoss groups.

BuddyBoss Groups Sync with LearnDash Groups

So, in the Uncanny Groups 3.9 release, here’s what’s new if LearnDash Group Sync and Auto Create Social Group settings are enabled in BuddyBoss > Integrations > LearnDash on a BuddyBoss site:

  1. When a LearnDash group is created by the Uncanny Groups plugin, an associated BuddyBoss social group is created.
  2. When a user is added to a group from the Group Management page in our plugin, the user is added to the associated BuddyBoss group. If the user is a student they are added as a “Member”. If the user is a Group Leader they are added as an “Organizer”. This works for adding single usersadding multiple users and adding users via CSV import.
  3. When users are removed from a group from the Group Management page, they are removed from the associated BuddyBoss social group.
  4. When users are added or removed by an administrator from the LearnDash edit group page, we sync the change to the associated BuddyBoss group.

If you use BuddyBoss groups, these changes are probably a very welcome surprise. All of these behaviours are automatic and based on the settings in BuddyBoss only; there are no settings to change in Uncanny Groups to add this support.

Support for semicolon delimited CSV files

For non-English users of our plugin, your Group Leaders can now export CSV files from Excel and have them work without having to change region settings or use something like Google Sheets. (For some regions and languages, Excel automatically exports CSV files with a semicolon delimiter instead of a comma, but previously our user import only support comma delimiters.)

Performance improvements for LearnDash Groups

One of our developers took his frustrations with LearnDash performance on sites with a lot of groups and turned it into a new performance tweak. By default, the list of groups in LearnDash LMS > Groups in /wp-admin/ shows a column that includes a count of the number of users, courses, and Group Leaders in a group. On sites with a lot of groups, these lookups can slow down load times to show groups a lot and the information isn’t always necessary. We ended up including the option to turn the column on or off if people don’t need it, and by doing that, sites with a lot of groups will see a big performance increase (with the compromise, of course, being that the data is no longer output in the group list).

Show legacy LearnDash group data

In recent versions of our plugin (including this one) we have improved the performance of Uncanny Groups reports and key generation. For ProPanel users, there were a handful of situations where data in our reports would not exactly match ProPanel; this was due to LearnDash storing progress and enrollment data in multiple locations in the database. This was usually corrected by running the Course and Course Access List upgrades from LearnDash LMS > Settings > Data Upgrades, but we wanted to provide an option for users to choose the slower (but from sources matching ProPanel) report generation option.

Legacy LearnDash course data

Uncanny Groups 3.9 updates and fixes

Details of all updates are of course in the full changelog, but we wanted to draw your attention to a few highlights that you might notice as you use the plugin:

  1. LearnDash recently changed how new assignments are named to make them more unique, but this in turn created formatting issues in our Assignments report since we listed the full file name. We have no changed file names to a View link instead.
  2. The list of courses on the Group Management page is now ordered alphabetically.
  3. Group keys are now deleted when a group is deleted, even if WooCommerce is not active (there were some scenarios where deleted groups might still have orphaned keys stored in the database).