User Experience Improvements for Uncanny LearnDash Groups

One of the biggest challenges that users of our Uncanny LearnDash Groups plugin face is figuring out how everything works. It’s a plugin that started off with quite a basic footprint, but over the last 2 years we have continued innovating and adding some really exciting features. As we have done that, we know that it has increased the learning curve a noticeable amount, both for users of the plugin directly and for LearnDash Group Leaders.

Because of that, the next few releases of the plugin will focus more on user experience. We need to make our giant plugin easier to manage, and that starts with today’s release of Uncanny LearnDash Groups 3.4.

The Group Management table

The biggest change in the 3.4 release is to the main Group Management page interface. When we launched the very first version, it was really simple; there was a way to add users and there were simple course and quiz reports. It was simple and uncluttered. Then we added a function to email users, an assignment management page, an essay management tool, a way to manage user progress… and it just got really busy and confusing.

Here’s an example of what part of the Group Management table header looked like before Groups 3.4 (this isn’t even all of the buttons!) versus today’s release.

learndash-group-simplified-interfaceIt’s a big change, to be sure, but we think simplifying the UI into menus instead of buttons will make the Group Leader experience a lot less daunting. For existing users, your existing shortcode attributes and settings will all be carried over, so don’t worry about these changes disrupting anything you might have customized.

Essay and Assignment Management

Front end interfaces to manage essays and assignments were late additions to our Uncanny LearnDash Groups plugin, primarily because we really don’t use them much on our own LearnDash sites. That remains the case, and until we recently worked with a client that does a lot with essay questions (I reviewed one example where a single instructor was assigned 3,000 essay questions to review), we didn’t know how inefficient our model was.

LearnDash Essay Review Table

In today’s release, we’re adding new columns so that you can see a user’s answer and approve it right from the list of essay questions. No more clicking to load up a modal and approving it there, now instructors can power through grading activities and turn things around faster.

Because of all of the new columns, we needed to do something with the clutter. Columns can now be turned on or off (with the little checkboxes above the table) and you can drag columns to whatever order you want. The system will even remember what columns users had shown and hidden when they visit the report at a later date. You can even resize the columns!

The filter for Graded and Ungraded should make it a lot easier (and more performant) to see only the types of essay questions you need to review, and First and Last Names columns make searching easier.

Performance improvements

Some of our plugin users really pushed the boundaries of how we expected LearnDash Groups to be used, and in some cases our model didn’t perform well on certain sites. We never expected to see groups with over 10,000 seats or thousands of users, and while we still don’t think it’s a great approach in many situations, the plugin will at least perform better in those situations.

The Uncanny LearnDash Groups 3.4 release is a big one, so make sure to test it on a Staging site before you update and have a look at the changelog for even more updates!

New Mark Complete Button Options in Tin Canny!

Our Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting plugin offers the easiest way to add modules from tools like Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, Rise, and iSpring to your LearnDash courses. It’s our second most popular LearnDash plugin and gives thousands of LearnDash sites xAPI and SCORM capabilities that rival bigger LMS vendors.

Since it was introduced, we gave LearnDash users a way to control progress in courses based on how learners interacted with uploaded modules. It was pretty simple: users could only click the LearnDash Mark Complete button to move forward if they completed, passed, or achieved some other condition inside the module.

For Tin Canny some users, that wasn’t enough. We got a lot of questions about Tin Canny like these:

  • Can we hide the Mark Complete button completely until the learner completes a module?
  • Can we change the text on the Mark Complete button if there’s Tin Canny content on the page?
  • Can we automatically mark the lesson/topic complete when the learner completes the module?
  • Can we automatically move the learner to the next lesson when they complete the module?

We wrestled with changes for a long time and couldn’t settle on the right way to handle autocompletion and autoadvancing for people that wanted those things. That led to some Tin Canny users adopting third party solutions, like Uncanny Automator.

Instead of coming up with a single solution, Tin Canny 3.2.2 offers—all of them!

Introducing the new Mark Complete Options

We heard your feedback and added every option we could think of to Tin Canny.  They include:

  • Always Enabled: Mark Complete button is always enabled.  
  • Disabled until complete: Mark Complete button is disabled until the completion condition has been satisfied. This is the current default behaviour when the Mark Complete control is turned on in Tin Canny.
  • Hidden until complete: Mark Complete button is hidden until the completion condition has been met. When the condition is met, Mark Complete appears.
  • Hidden and autocomplete: Mark Complete button is hidden and the lesson/topic is automatically marked complete when the completion condition has been met. (Make sure you have an intuitive way for users to know they finished the module and can move forward!)
  • Hidden and autoadvance: Mark Complete button is hidden, the lesson/topic is automatically marked complete and the learner is automatically advanced to the next lesson or topic when the completion condition has been met. (You may want to add an empty final slide or something similar so users aren’t automatically advanced when a results slide appears.)

For a full description of the options, visit our Knowledge Base.  The options can be set globally from the settings screen, or individually at the lesson/topic level.  We think these new options open some exciting new possibilities for an even more seamless learner experience.

These new options should address all requests that we’ve had for new behaviours in the Mark Complete controls, but as always, send us your feedback about how we can make things even better. Our goal is always to make Tin Canny the easiest and most feature-rich SCORM and xAPI solution for LearnDash platform!

 

Use LearnDash Groups? Get this Toolkit Pro Update

Version 3.2.6 of the Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit Pro might sound like a small point release, but for users of LearnDash Groups, it’s going to make things a lot better. We worked really hard on this one to accommodate a number of user requests (including from the LearnDash team), so we know it’s going to add a lot of value.

Send Group Drip Notifications

The Group Drip module is now compatible with the LearnDash Notifications plugin!

What does that mean for you? Well, if you control how lessons are dripped by LearnDash Group, it means you can send users an email when the lesson is available. Workarounds, like using a CRM to drip notices based on group tag, are no longer needed.

This makes is much, much easier to let students know when content is available in their courses.

Please note that while we did our best to make things as simple as possible, because of how the Notifications plugin works, having emails triggered by group drip date does unfortunately require that everything be set up in a particular order. Here’s what’s needed to make the notifications work:

  1. Create the Lesson Notification in the LearnDash Notifications plugin.
  2. Create or edit the lesson you’re going to drip.
    1. If Shared Course Steps are off, choose a group for the drip behaviour and then select a date.
    2. If Shared Course Steps are on, select a course in the Course Switcher dropdown, choose a group for the drip behaviour and select a date.
  3. Save the lesson changes.

The lesson update after setting up the notification is unfortunately needed for emails to be triggered properly. It’s worth it though for this powerful new feature!

Integration with the Uncanny Groups Plugin

The 3.2.6 release of Pro also adds some really compelling new ways to use Pro with our Groups plugin. The Import LearnDash Users and Group Registration modules now recognize and work with seat limits set in Groups. What does that mean for your site?

For the Import Users module, it means that user uploads into LearnDash Groups that have seat limits will now count against available seats. In other words, if a group has 100 seats assigned, 40 in the group already and you add another 40 by import, the group will now have 20 seats remaining. The imported users will count against the seat count for the group. And, if you were import 100 instead of 40, then the seat limit for the group would be increased to 140 (since there were 40 and 100 were imported) and the available seat count would change to 0.

It’s pretty great, but the Group Registration changes are even better. Now all users that register from the group URLs count against the available seat limit. These means you can now limit how many people can use these registration URLs, but even better, you can let group members self-register directly into groups without using enrollment keys. Instead, the unique URL they register from effectively acts as the pre-populated enrollment key. This approach is far easier for learners to use when signing up for group-based access.

And that’s it for Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit Pro 3.2.6! If you use LearnDash Groups, you’re definitely going to enjoy these new features.

Manage LearnDash Course Progress for Learners

Websites using LearnDash Groups, rejoice! The 3.2 release of the Uncanny LearnDash Groups plugin just added an amazing new feature: a way for Group Leaders and administrators to view and edit learner progress in the front end. It’s got a great UI, it’s really simple to use, and our Manage Learner Progress tool is very powerful.

Here’s a video that explains it:

Just drill down into courses, click, and progress is updated automatically. It works for courses, lessons, topics and quizzes. If courses and lessons have associated lessons, topics and quizzes beneath them, those get automatically completed too.
Manage LearnDash Progress

 

Set up Front End Progress Management

To use the new tool you must, of course, have the Uncanny LearnDash Groups plugin installed and activated. Once that’s done, the Manage Learner Progress page must be created manually by adding the [uo_groups_manage_progress] shortcode to a page. Once that’s added, Group Leaders and admins can start managing progress!

Why manually create the page when other pages in the plugin are created automatically? We made that decision because a lot of LearnDash admins might not want their Group Leaders having this level of control. This way, it can’t be accidentally turned on.

Once the shortcode is in place, you can map the page in your Uncanny Groups Settings page and decide whether you want the view to be read-only for Group Leaders or whether you want them to be able to edit learner progress. Once the page is mapped in the Settings page, a new Progress button will be added to the Group Management page automatically! Group Leaders can now track course progress, report on quizzes, manage assignments, manage essay questions, and now edit LearnDash progress—all in the front end.

Point & Click: It’s That Easy

Once the Manage Learner Progress page is up, Group Leaders and admins can find users easily by searching by first name, last name or email address. The records autocomplete, so it’s really easy to find the right user. (And don’t worry, Group Leaders can only see users and courses associated with the groups they manage.)

Once records have populated for a user, the Group Leader or admin can check or uncheck records to mark them as complete or incomplete. Changes are instant; there’s no risk of forgetting to save changes before leaving the page.

For courses and lessons, you may wonder why we force the user to confirm the change before the system loops through and marks associated posts as complete (or incomplete). That’s because many sites have lesson and course completion trigger other things, like email notices and certificate generation. If the Manage Progress page executes these, the actions can’t be undone; emails can’t be unsent, for example. That’s why we force users to reflect and confirm that yes, they really do want to mark the course and everything beneath it as completed.

We’re really excited about this new addition to the Groups plugin. It’s just so useful and has been requested by a number of plugin users. And yes, we know the Groups plugin has really turned into a huge platform, but it just adds so much value for anyone using LearnDash Groups.

LearnDash 3.0 is out. Do you still need the Toolkit?

The LearnDash 3.0 release landed a few weeks ago, bringing with it lots of new features and a far better user experience for students and admins. It also added new login and registration options, meaning LearnDash site admins no longer need to rely on additional plugins to incorporate those features. With all of the LearnDash enhancements in the 3.0 release, it begs the question: Do LearnDash site owners still need the free version of the Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit?

LearnDash Toolkit

 

What’s in the Toolkit?

To consider the relevancy of the free Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit in a LearnDash 3.0 world, let’s review the modules included in the Toolkit:

  • Breadcrumb Links: Allow easy navigation from inside lessons and topics back up to the course and student dashboard level.
  • Certificate Widget: Output a list of earned certificates in a widget area with links to open the certificates.
  • Front End Login: A login form that allows easy branding, password reset, recaptcha support and more.
  • Groups in User Profiles: List groups that a user belongs to on the profile edit page in /wp-admin/.
  • Hide Admin Bar: Hide the admin bar for users based on role.
  • Log In/Log Out Links: Add links to menus to easily log in and log out from any page on a site.
  • Log In/Log Out Redirects: Control where users are directed when they log in or out on the site.
  • Menu Item Visibility: Show menu entries based on whether or not the user is signed in.
  • Not Enrolled Redirect: Redirect users to a sales, login or other page when they land on a course page when not enrolled.
  • Resume Button: Return users to where they left off in a course.
  • Show Certificates: Show a list of earned certificates with hyperlinks.
  • Show or Hide Content: Conditionally show content on a page based on whether the user is logged in or out.
  • Topics Autocomplete Lessons: Lessons are completed automatically when associated topics are all completed.
  • User Switching: Allow admins to switch to a student account and view the site as that student.

Those 14 modules are currently available in the free version of the Toolkit and offer an easy way for admins to add extra capabilities to LearnDash sites.

Are all Toolkit modules still relevant with LearnDash 3.0?

Now that we’ve taken a look at what the Toolkit offers, let’s review how their utility and relevance changes with LearnDash 3.0.

The Breadcrumb Links module is particularly useful on more complex sites where there is a dedicated page acting as a learner “dashboard”. This is typically where learners land after logging in and will often include a list of enrolled courses, instructions, and links to key tools and resources. LearnDash 3.0 offers an easy way for learners to navigate back up to the course level with breadcrumbs, but not back to a centralized course dashboard (if one exists). For sites using a learner dashboard or with more complex navigation needs, this module remains an important addition with LearnDash 3.0.

The Certificate Widget and Show Certificates modules may or may not be of value on LD sites. There are alternatives (the ld_profile shortcode in LearnDash, for example, includes certificate links) and certainly these aren’t must-have tools.  If you prefer to display a list of certificates in a sidebar or independently of the ld_profile shortcode, then these modules may still add value to your site.

The Front End Login module is where things get more interesting. Until LearnDash 3.0, this is what made the Toolkit essential for LearnDash sites and was by far the most-used module in the Toolkit. Now that LearnDash 3.0 has login capabilities, should anyone still use the version in the Toolkit?

In our opinion, it depends. What’s in LearnDash 3.0 right now is basic and handles simple login functions only. What’s in the Toolkit handles branded password reset (LearnDash relies on WordPress default password reset functions), reCaptcha, manual user verification and more—features the LearnDash login tool doesn’t support. Of course, not everyone needs those features, and what’s in LearnDash is likely sufficient on some sites.

Recaptcha in LearnDash Login Form

Groups in User Profiles is effectively redundant in LearnDash 3.0. It’s a legacy module that doesn’t add value to new LearnDash 3.0 sites and we may retire it.

Hide Admin Bar adds some role-based controls to hiding the admin bar that LearnDash doesn’t offer, and if you want to keep Group Leaders out of /wp-admin/ then this is still a very useful addition. If that capability isn’t needed, default LearnDash behaviours should be sufficient.

Log In/Log Out Links and Log In/Log Out Redirects are, or at least we believe they are, essential additions to LearnDash sites. We think Log In and Log Out functions should be easily accessible to users and available in site menus, and that learner dashboards should be used to provide a good student experience (and by using the redirect module, users can automatically land there after login).

Should learners see a different site menu than anonymous prospects? Absolutely, and that’s why we think the Menu Item Visibility module is also a must-have. LearnDash doesn’t currently support this capability.

Not Enrolled Redirect is an optional module that is useful if you display the same list of courses to both enrolled and not enrolled users (using something like a course grid, for example), and want users to be redirected to some sort of page optimized for sales instead of the course page when they click on a course in which they’re not enrolled.  For sites with that type of user experience, this module can add a lot of value.

The Resume Button module is another must-have, especially if you use our Pro plugin and the course grid or dashboard modules. It makes it easier for students to see where they left off and pick up again from that point.

Course Grid with LearnDash Resume Button

Show or Hide Content is another module that is very useful when you want to display different content to users on a given page depending on whether they’re logged in or out.  There are growing alternatives for sites, especially with increasing use of Membership and CRM plugins, and in many cases the native and LearnDash shortcodes are suitable alternatives. But there are still situations where these shortcodes make messaging for students a lot easier to manage.

Topics Autocomplete Lessons does still offer a more linear flow through courses and better student experience in many situations. It’s widely used, and while not a must-have, it’s going to add value to most sites.

The User Switching is the final must-have module in the list. For troubleshooting problems this capability is invaluable for admins.

So, do you need the Toolkit?

Yes, the Toolkit still adds significant value to LearnDash 3.0 sites. Certainly we’re biased, but we believe that LearnDash sites still need the Toolkit to round out the admin and user experience.

We recognize that some Toolkit modules aren’t as essential as they once were. The Front End Login module moves from must-have status to a valuable add-on for most sites, and while all sites we build will use our Front End Login module (we want reCaptcha and branded password reset), we know fewer sites in the future will depend on our login module.

Nevertheless, that still leaves five Toolkit modules that we believe should be on all LearnDash sites: Log In/Log Out Links, Log In/Log Out Redirects, Menu Item Visibility, Resume Button and User Switching. Many others are likely to add some value, depending on the context, and there’s never a situation where we just recommend turning everything on without considering the value it adds to your site.

What about Pro?

Everything covered above is about the free Toolkit only. After all, it’s almost standard on new LearnDash sites and has a huge install base. But the Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit Pro add-ons plugin is extremely popular too, installed on thousands of LearnDash sites, and it adds dozens of additional modules. Are any of those redundant with the LearnDash release?

For our own LearnDash projects, the Pro add-on is our only other must-install plugin besides the Toolkit. (Our other Uncanny Owl plugins, like Groups, Tin Canny, Codes, and Continuing Education Credits certainly add value to some sites, but they’re not suited to every site.) At the time of publishing, Pro adds 25 modules to LearnDash sites, and on typical sites that use Pro we often see 5 to 10 of those activated.

For sites using Pro, we consider several of the modules to be extremely high value: Simple Course Timer, Import Users (directly into courses and groups using a simple checkbox interface), Course DashboardEnhanced Course/Lessons/Topics Grid, Import LearnDash Users, Email Course/Quiz Certificates, Drip Lessons by Group, Duplicate Pages and PostsAutocomplete Lessons & Topics, and the Learner Transcript. LearnDash 3.0 doesn’t include anything related to the functionality these modules add to sites.

Two pro modules have been replaced by native LearnDash functionality in LearnDash 3.0 (with the LearnDash 3.0 theme active): Sample Lesson Label and Lesson/Topic/Quiz Table Colours.  The LearnDash 3.0 theme now shows a visible Sample label on sample lessons, and lets users customize UI colours in settings.  However, none of the other modules in Pro have seen their value proposition change with the LearnDash 3.0 release. While Certificate Preview is a new module to the Toolkit, it is another one where we can see future LearnDash development negating the need for this tool. For now, however, it still makes certificate production and testing more efficient.

Are we changing the Toolkit because of LearnDash 3.0?

Both the free Toolkit and Pro addons remain under very active development and we have a lot of great new features planned. Some modules (like the Groups in user Profiles module) may be retired as they become less useful, but that’s a good thing—we want deliver the best possible experience on LearnDash 3.0 sites and we’ll continue innovating and reassessing the value of our Toolkit modules.

 

xAPI Quiz Reporting: Beta

Today’s release of Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting added some extremely significant new features for anyone working with xAPI modules inside LearnDash. Because they are big changes and have not yet been tested extensively on live sites, for now we’re considering them “beta” additions and we recommend caution when trying them out.

Track xAPI Quiz Scores

The biggest change is that we now support collecting quiz data from xAPI records. For our current Tin Canny users, you know that in previous releases we collected scores and verbs from xAPI and SCORM records only. There were several reasons for this, but an important one was that earlier Tin Canny releases were not as efficient with very large sets of data and in early development we decided to capture and report on the most important data only so that we kept database records down and performance up. We estimate that around 10% of Tin Canny users requested that we add quiz data as well though, so now, in beta form, we’re making that option available.

Here’s what we came up with as a starting point:

This is going to be hugely beneficial to sites that offer quiz questions inside uploaded modules, because it now makes it possible to see specific questions in a quiz, the user’s answer, the choices available, the correct answer, and whether or not the user was right. Want to know who answered a specific question incorrectly? Now you can do that. Maybe you want to know how many users answered “C” for a specific multiple choice question? That’s also possible now. It’s a very big improvement, especially used in combination with the filters for LearnDash course, module, question, result and date.

And yes, we know that some of the columns are far too narrow for some quiz questions on sites. That’s why we made it possible to add and remove columns from the table using the Screen Options function at the top of the page. This one is really powerful and we haven’t seen anything like it from other xAPI tools.

Sorry SCORM users, the beta report for quiz data supports xAPI only, but we’re looking at SCORM support for an upcoming release.

Replace Content (beta), Site Check and More

Besides the lack of quiz data, the inability to easily swap out uploaded modules was a relatively common request from Tin Canny users. In previous versions, replacing a module meant deleting the old module, then uploading a new one and fixing all of the shortcodes if the module was embedded in multiple places.  Now on the Manage Content page there’s a “Replace” link available for each module, which takes the new upload file, adds it, and replaces it in lessons and topics that used the old module automatically. If also deletes the old module and all related files. This feature should make a lot of users very happy.  Please note that this feature is in beta, and requires the deletion of at least some of the stored progress data for users, so be sure to check the knowledge base article before using it on your site.

Next up, Site Check. We were getting too many of the same support requests over and over related to common environmental issues. Mark Complete button not updating? Something is probably blocking the endpoint, like a .htaccess password or security plugin. Content not showing up? Possibly an http vs. https mismatch. Nothing working? Maybe the permalinks are invalid. For some of these common issues, Tin Canny now offers a Site Check tool to rule out the most common problems, and if any are found, it suggests why they might be happening and how to fix them.

Tin Canny Site Check

The 3.2 release also adds far more filters for developers, total course and learner stats to front end reports, and it takes care of a few additional translation issues (notably if you try to rebrand “Tin Canny”).

Most importantly: This update fixes an issue related to LearnDash 3.0 theme changes. If you use LearnDash 3.0 and controls over the Mark Complete button, you must use Tin Canny 3.2 or higher or the Mark Complete restrictions won’t work. LearnDash changed how the Mark Complete button is identified and the only solution is to update to the latest version.

That’s it for now. We hope you like the changes!

Pro Updates: Faster Learndash and a New Dashboard

Every time we make a blog post about one of our plugin updates it’s because it’s a huge update with new features, and for today’s Uncanny Learndash Toolkit Pro 3.2 update that’s especially true. This one has been in development for quite some time, and the new features are going to make a huge difference to LearnDash sites, especially ones with a lot of content.

Faster LearnDash Lesson & Topic Performance

We’re most excited about adding a new Lazy Loading Course Navigation tool. We get inquiries all the time about how to improve LearnDash site performance at the enterprise level. This includes sites with potentially hundreds of courses and thousands of LearnDash lessons and topics. On those sites, things can really get slowed down just because of the volume of content; queries get really heavy just to check course content relationships and progress within courses. On larger sites, we’ve seen these queries add seconds (yes, plural) to every page load that students make inside a course. You can’t really take away navigation aids from inside courses—but you can now load them after the rest of the page loads.

That’s what our new [uo-course-navigation] shortcode does. Use it in place of the normal LearnDash Course Navigation widget and all of the extra LearnDash queries will run AFTER the rest of the page has loaded. On a big site we tested on, this approach made lessons and topics load about 25% faster for students. (It adds a brief loading animation to the navigation tool and users don’t see the course hierarchy right away, but on large sites the tradeoff is absolutely worth it.)

New Dashboard Design

New LearnDash Dashboard Design

Our LearnDash Course Dashboard shortcode was due for a redesign, especially after seeing some of what’s coming in LearnDash 3.0. So that’s exactly what we did, and in a big way. While not shown in the screenshot above, it’s now really easy for users to know how to start a course, resume a course and retrieve certificates. The colour palette is very customizable, and the new dashboard is amazingly responsive. We’ll get a demo up on our plugin demo site at https://learndash.uncannyowl.com/ soon, but we can assure you that it collapses very well and looks great on mobile devices.

For users of the current dashboard, don’t worry, there’s a toggle to continue using the Legacy design. Everyone else will almost certainly want to try out the “3.0” design though.

LearnDash Certificate PreviewCertificate Preview

If you’ve created many certificates with LearnDash you know how awkward and time-consuming it can be to set up certificates exactly as you want them. It typically involves setting up a test course, test lesson and/or quiz, then triggering completion and continuing reloading PDF files to try to get things right. You have one window open in the front end, the other in the back end, and you go back and forth to get things right.

Not any more. With the Certificate Preview module turned on, a Preview button gets added to the course edit page. And by clicking that button, right where you edit the certificate, you can preview the certificate. No more test courses and quizzes. Generating certificates is now far easier when you can do everything right inside the certificate edit page.

Note that because there is no associated course or quiz, our preview can’t actually render the shortcodes for things like completion date or course name. Instead, our preview tool substitutes placeholder data in the place of LearnDash shortcodes, so you can still focus on getting the layout right without having everything set up yet.

There’s More!

The Pro 3.2 release is big. We added some other great functions that will help a lot of our customers on their sites.

The Enhanced Lesson/Topic Grid module now supports WordPress category and tag attributes, so it’s easy to generate topic and grid listings with different content depending on the context.

Email Course Certificates adds %Group Name% token support to subject lines to make it easier for notifications to distinguish between users in different groups.

We also included a few fixes, notably for users that might have had issues with Drip Lessons by Group or automatically advancing on Gravity Form submission when the Autocomplete Lessons & Topics on Gravity Forms Submission module was enabled.

If you’re not yet an Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit Pro user, there’s never been a better time to buy; the Toolkit is now up to 39 total modules!

Introducing Automatic Template Overrides

We’re in the middle of another big round of plugin updates and perhaps one of the most exciting addition to our plugins is support for template overrides. Basically, this feature allows you to take key HTML elements from our plugins, copy the templates into your child theme, make modifications to them, and not be worried about your customizations disappearing when you update the plugins.

Last week’s Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit Pro (3.1) and LearnDash Groups (3.0.4) and this week’s Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit (3.1) updates are the first to support this new behavior. Using the overrides is really easy; find something you want to override in the /src/templates folders of our plugins, copy that file to your child theme (into an /uncanny-toolkit/ folder for the Toolkit plugins, /uncanny-groups/ for the Groups plugin), and then apply your changes to the new file.  If the file is in a subfolder of the /src/templates folder, replicate the same folder structure inside the override folder, but drop the /templates path  (e.g. /src/templates/frontend-login/default-login.php would go in /your-child-theme/uncanny-toolkit/frontend-login/default-login.php).

Certainly this feature is intended primarily for developers, who can build some very powerful features using our plugins as a base. Perhaps you want to add a new field to our Enhanced Course Grid, like an instructor name, or maybe on the Import LearnDash Users page you want to add your own instructions and branding. Template overrides make things like this much easier.

And while we’re talking about Pro and Groups plugins anyway, here are some other recent updates to the plugins you may have missed…

Recent Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit Pro Updates

Improved Group Leader Interface: No more relying on third party plugins to redirect your Group Leaders! This module now supports login redirects for Group Leaders. If you use Pro with our Groups plugin, this is a great way to get your Group Leaders to land directly on the Group Management page.

Improved Group Leader Redirect

Email Quiz Certificates: Tokens now available for including the user’s first and last name in the email sent to admins and/or Group Leaders. Use %First Name% to include the user’s first name and %Last Name% for last name. This makes organizing emails much easier.

Email Course Certificates: Pro 3.0.4 added a way to send certificates with a timed delay. Most users should not choose the “Use Cron to send certificate option”, but in some cases where a shortcode does not have course completion when the certificate is sent, choosing this option and then having the certificate sent 20 seconds after completion allows time for shortcodes in the certificate to render properly. If you find your certificate PDF files have some blank values, try turning this on.

Recent Uncanny LearnDash Group Updates

We’ve made a number of recent enhancements to our Groups plugin that will really help site owners:

Put the Key Redemption field anywhere in your Gravity Form registration form. This one is a huge improvement for several Groups users; the code entry field is no longer restricted to the bottom of the form. Instead, you can add the “Uncanny Code” field type anywhere on your form.

Include passwords in user uploads. CSV files can now include a specific password rather than the Groups plugin force a random password. This is a huge benefit on sites where students may not have an email address, as instead of requiring that an email be sent with their password, or a link to reset the password, nothing needs to be confirmed by email.

User verification in Gravity Forms is now supported, so you can have users confirm their email addresses before registration.

Tin Canny 3.0

We’ve had some big 3.0 plugin releases over the last few weeks, but today’s Tin Canny release is the biggest overhaul yet. It’s basically a complete rewrite of the reporting engine to improve performance and scalability on larger sites, with lots of smaller improvements and new features thrown in to round things out. Almost everything about reporting is now different, so if you’re an existing user, we highly recommend testing on a Staging site first.

Beyond the improvements behind the scenes, there’s a lot different on the front end too—starting with a complete redesign of all reports and charts. They’re far more mobile-friendly and easy to use.

Tin Canny Course Report

Breadcrumb links are new, and now individual user reports include Gravatar images if available for your users. This helps to personalize reports and make them more visually appealing.

Tin Canny hadn’t yet fully supported Adobe Captivate 2019, but now it does! The 3.0 release of Tin Canny will help you get more out of Captivate on your LearnDash sites—as will even more controls over resetting Tin Canny SCORM and xAPI records. Tin Canny 3.0 supports purging records for individual users. For testing purposes or clearing bad data, this is going to be a big help to a lot of sites that need to reset user records independently.

Delete Individual Tin Can Records

Rounding out the list of new features, Tin Canny users can now disable the Tin Canny dashboard widget to improve load times, and more Gutenberg block support has been added for the quiz reports.

Tin Canny 3.0 includes dozens of other behind-the-scenes improvements, including:

  • Support for additional H5P module types
  • Better navigation between reports, like going from Course > User > Course report for a user instead of Course > User > Course List > Course report
  • Improved compatibility with MySQL 8
  • Better notices when no data is available
  • Better translation support
  • Better consistency of data across courses and groups

For a full list of the changes, make sure to read the changelog at https://www.uncannyowl.com/knowledge-base/tin-canny-learndash-reporting-changelog/.

Existing users: Please do consider testing this on a Staging or Development site before you deploy the release on your live site. Tin Canny 3.0 has been through a lot of internal testing but there may still be slight differences in report output compared to what you’re used to.

Uncanny LearnDash Groups 3.0

It’s time for another 3.0 plugin release!

We’ve had some big 3.0 releases over the last few weeks, but today’s Uncanny LearnDash Groups 3.0 update is really in a class of its own with new features. If you use LearnDash Groups, you should be very excited.

One thing that really set our Groups plugin apart was the flexible ecommerce offerings it made possible. You could create and sell course bundles to organizations, let people pick and choose their own courses to create groups, even set up all of that with subscription support. But it never offered a way for learners to add themselves to groups with a purchase.

Well, now it does. Learners can buy a WooCommerce product that adds them to a LearnDash Group automatically. Just create a product, map it to a LearnDash Group, and anyone that buys it gets added to the group. No codes, no changing the user to a Group Leader, the learner just gets instantly added to the group. And did we mention full support for subscriptions with the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin? That’s right, set up a subscription product, map it to a group, and the user gets access to the group but only for as long as they keep paying.

That’s a huge benefit to LearnDash sites, but it’s not even the biggest change in the Groups 3.0 release. We listened to feedback from our users and in 3.0 we added full front-end management of assignments and essay questions for Group Leaders. Definitely one of our biggest complaints since launch was that Group Leaders still had to visit /wp-admin/ for some Group Leader functions. Well, now they don’t. 🙂 There’s no longer any reason for Group Leaders to need wp-admin access if they use Uncanny LearnDash Groups 3.0.LearnDash Assignment Management

 

We know that’s going to help a lot of sites out. We did the same thing for quiz essays as what you see above for assignments; links to questions, grading, the course, lesson, quiz, and comments.  It’s all from a single, streamlined interface in the front end.

The Uncanny LearnDash Groups plugin only recently added the ability for Group Leaders to email members of a group. However, Group Leaders could only email all users of a group, not just users that haven’t completed or started their training. in Groups 3.0 Group Leaders can send group members emails based on their course completion status:

 

But we didn’t stop here. Here are some other things that made it into the 3.0 release:

  1. Our new Uncanny 3.0 plugin architecture for easier support and license management.
  2. Basic Gutenberg block support
  3. More hooks for developers.
  4. No more “Existing User” option in the Add User modal! This was confusing; Group Leaders won’t necessarily know if a user is new or already exists in the system, so now we handle this automatically.
  5. Better translation support, multisite support and third party email plugin support.

As always with our 3.0 plugin releases, this is a big one and we highly recommend testing things out on a Staging site before you take it live.

This release means only one Uncanny Owl plugin still has an outstanding 3.0 release, and it’s Tin Canny. Look for that one next week!