New Modules for LearnDash Pro Toolkit

Yesterday we released version 1.4 of the Pro modules plugin for the Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit and it’s one of our biggest updates yet. Along with the usual suite of improvements, we introduced three entirely new modules: Send LearnDash Certificates by Email, Complete Lesson/Topic on Quiz Completion, and the Group Leader Experience. All 3 have been very popular requests and we’re very excited to be able to include them in the Pro plugin. All new features are, of course, available at no extra cost to existing users.

Here’s a screencast that outlines how the new modules and other changes work:

The biggest addition to the plugin is the ability to send LearnDash PDF certificates by email on quiz completion. Certificates can go to learners, of course, but even more exciting is that the site admin, Group Leaders, and even custom email addresses can be notified and also receive the certificate attachment. It’s a great way for managers and organizations to track staff achievements. One caveat with this module is that it works with quiz certificates only for now (not course certificates), but we know a lot of people are going to be excited about easy certificate distribution by email!

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The Autocomplete Lessons & Topics on Quiz Results Page module addresses a common user experience issue on LearnDash sites–users must click a Click here to continue button to save results and be able to mark an associated lesson or topic as complete. If they didn’t, administrator intervention may have been required in order to complete associated lessons and topics properly. This module automatically marks an associated lesson or topic complete as soon as the quiz is completed so that users that accidentally forget to click the button won’t be negatively affected. (Clarification: LearnDash 2.3 did complete quizzes earlier in the workflow; our plugin allows easier autocompletion of associated lessons/topics.)

We have always found the Group Leader experience with LearnDash a bit confusing. For us, it was unusual for Group Leaders to have access to the WordPress Dashboard and back-end profile management, but not to have easy access to the courses they were managing and reports. This simple module, when enabled, grants Group Leaders access to the courses their groups are enrolled in and changes the back end user interface to something more suited to typical Group Leader functions.

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Along with the modules themselves we’ve added some new organizing options for the course grid (including a fixed sorting option by menu order that ignores groupings), expiry date sorting for LearnDash Groups, better translation support and more.

If you don’t already have a copy of the plugin, make sure to check out the other modules already included in the Pro Modules plugin for the Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit!

New Code-Based Enrolment Plugin for LearnDash

If you’ve ever wished for an easier way to get your learners into LearnDash Groups or courses, our newest plugin is perfect for you! We’ve built a really easy way to generate codes that can be used by learners to self-enrol into LearnDash groups and courses when they register, make a purchase, or are simply signed in.

If you sell course access to organizations, you can use the Uncanny LearnDash Codes plugin to generate and distribute codes that can be redeemed for LearnDash access. Using Gravity Forms, Theme My Login or the included registration shortcode, users can enter a code during registration that adds them directly to a group or course. Create codes with custom prefixes and suffixes to identify clients, and distribute codes in CSV files to your partners. You can also control how many times a code can be redeemed, so if it’s better for your situation to distribute a single code with multiple uses, that works too.

Here’s a screencast that walks through exactly what the plugin does and how it works:

The plugin also supports integration with WooCommerce and independent enrolment. For ecommerce transactions, you can identify specific products that can only be purchased with a valid code, making it possible for learners to buy access to a LearnDash Group. For signed in users, we also make a shortcode available so users can enrol themselves in additional courses and groups using a code.

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Here are 3 business scenarios that are a perfect fit for Uncanny LearnDash Codes:

  1. Offer a promo where the first 50 customers to enter a code from their profile page get early access to a new course. (Use the plugin to generate a single code with 50 uses that enrols the user in a course.)
  2. Send a CSV file with codes to a college professor that allows students to self-enrol directly into a LearnDash Group and associated courses. (Use the plugin to generate 100 single-use codes in bulk for a group and download as a CSV file, and force code redemption on registration.)
  3. Generate codes on your LearnDash site and sell them from another website. One of our clients is now able to sell course access from a Shopify store by creating the codes with our plugin, loading them into Shopify, and then letting users redeem them on the LearnDash site.

All codes have a detailed audit history, so you can see when codes were generated, when they were redeemed and by whom. Codes can be used for one or more courses or groups.

We hope you enjoy the plugin!

ProPanel 2.0 or Tin Canny for LearnDash Reporting?

Yesterday marked the release of the ProPanel 2.0 plugin for LearnDash, which is a very exciting improvement for LearnDash users. We’re very pleased to see it available and it makes sense to include it on many of the LearnDash sites we support. Now that it is available, we expect to see a lot more questions from LearnDash users about whether it makes sense to use our Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting plugin or ProPanel, so in this post we’ll explain some of the differences and why one and/or the other might be appropriate for your site.

ProPanel 2.0

ProPanel 2.0

First, the 2 plugins are not directly competitive and they serve very different purposes. We fully expect to use both ProPanel 2.0 and the Tin Canny plugin on many of our sites. They actually work quite well together as complementary tools.

Our Tin Canny plugin is purely a reporting plugin for site administrators (at the moment). ProPanel 2.0 includes an invaluable tool for emailing learners by group and completion status, a learning activity stream, a Group Leader view, and easy access to assignments and essays. Tin Canny doesn’t do any of these things, and we never expect to add anything related to emailing, essays or assignments. If you rely on these things, you’ll want ProPanel.

Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting

Tin Canny, of course, does some things that ProPanel does not. The obvious, of course, is facilitating the upload and tracking of Tin Can modules, including Storyline, Captivate and H5P content. ProPanel doesn’t consider Tin Can/xAPI activity reporting. Our reporting also looks at activity trends and additional data points like time spent in LearnDash courses, quiz scores, specific activity inside a course, etc. Tin Canny is also going to push server load more, as it looks at a lot of data; it’s not recommended in shared environments where resources are limited, and it will provide the most value to large sites with a lot of users. If price is a consideration, our plugin is significantly more expensive than adding ProPanel.

In the end, both plugins can be invaluable additions to LearnDash sites, and choosing one doesn’t mean you can’t also use the other. The combination of both plugins really extends the reporting power of LearnDash.

What’s New with Uncanny Owl Plugins?

We’re continuously improving our plugins and making sure they’re the best possible products for our users. Unfortunately, sometimes we overlook communicating new features and talking about how they can make your LearnDash sites even better. Here’s what you may have missed over the last few months:

Pro Modules for Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit

In version 1.2 we added a new module to clearly label sample lessons. Out of the box it’s not always obvious to users which lessons are samples in LearnDash, so in tables that list lessons we add a very clear label and introduced controls styling that label. You can even change the text, so instead of “Sample” you could use “Preview” or “Free”. More information is available at https://www.uncannyowl.com/knowledge-base/sample-lesson-label/.

In version 1.3 we added a new quiz time control that restricts access to a quiz unless users have spent a certain number of minutes in a course. For courses where you need to prevent learners from completing a course unless they’ve spent a minimum amount of time within it, this can be invaluable. We also added some navigation controls that were removed in LearnDash 2.3 that make workflow more intuitive for learners when autocompletion behaviours are enabled. Finally, version 1.3 of the Pro modules plugin is more translation friendly.

Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting

In version 1.1 of the Tin Canny plugin, we added a new dashboard metric, CSV export options, more control over Mark Complete behaviours when Tin Can modules are present in a lesson/topic, and data for total time spent in a course (to supplement completion time. We’re very excited about all of the improvements, but version 1.2 will really change what’s possible for tracking elearning in WordPress—especially for our enterprise users. Stay tuned for most news in that area, because it will be a first for elearning in WordPress.

Coming Soon

Our next paid plugin will make it possible to manage free enrolment to courses and membership in LearnDash Groups in a much more polished and accurate way. We don’t want to give too much away just yet, but watch for an announcement in the next month. The new plugin represents the accumulation of months of development and has been used very successfully on 5 client sites.

Is there something you’d like to see next in the Pro plugin? The list below includes features we’re considering for the next release. Let us know what you would like most!

If You Use Our Plugins

If you run one of the 2,500 LearnDash sites using our plugins, we could really use your help to make them even better.

First, we field a lot of support requests. If we’ve helped you with a question, it’s always extremely useful when you let us know if our guidance worked, especially if you posted on the WordPress.org support site.

Second, if you do use the free Toolkit, let us know how it helped your site by leaving a review in the WordPress repository. We do read them all and always appreciate feedback.

Great LearnDash Plugins You Don’t Know About

LearnDash users are fortunate to have dozens of plugins available that extend its functionality and make it easy to integrate with other plugins and apps. Some of those plugins enjoy very wide recognition, including our own useful LearnDash plugins (our free LearnDash Toolkit is now installed on over 7,000 LearnDash sites and is the most installed LearnDash plugin in the WordPress repository). Other plugins are showcased on the LearnDash site, but there are many others still flying under the radar. We want to introduce a few of them to you in this article.

WP Fusion

We love it when LearnDash clients incorporate marketing automation tools into the delivery of their elearning programs to make them more engaging and improve learning outcomes. Historically this was the realm of Memberium and Infusionsoft, and while both tools work reasonably well, as developers we were never particularly fond of using either (and invariably ran into complications setting them up for clients). We much prefer using Active Campaign for simple marketing automation (it’s what we use ourselves) and WP Fusion does a great job of integrating LearnDash with Active Campaign. We’re so pleased with it, in fact, that we’d actually built a competitive plugin and abandoned that work after we discovered and started using WP Fusion. The code is not obfuscated and doesn’t have special server requirements (unlike Memberium) so it’s easier to work with. Moreover, Jack, the developer, has been very receptive to feedback and has added features we’ve requested, like the recent addition of tags for LearnDash groups.

Learning Templates

Dennis at Learning Templates has created some very compelling LearnDash plugins for LearnDash Groups, including an assignment gallery and a plugin that isolates comments on LearnDash posts to a user’s LearnDash Group. While we haven’t used the plugins on any of our client sites yet, they address some gaps in LearnDash Groups that we’ve also experienced and it’s great to see another Canadian company doing LearnDash development.

LearnDash Topic Progression Using Storyline/Captivate

Chris over at Discover eLearning released a plugin that makes it a lot easier to integrate Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate files into courses by building a clever solution to have Storyline and Captivate modules control the LearnDash Mark Complete button. Our Tin Canny Reporting plugin does this as well, but for simple integration with Storyline and Captivate, the Discover eLearning plugin can’t be beat—and it’s free!

Do you have any favourite public plugins for LearnDash that didn’t make the LearnDash extensions page or our list here? Tell us about them in the comments!

Create a LearnDash Site in 1 Hour

Creating your own WordPress LMS with LearnDash doesn’t have to be a complicated ordeal that takes weeks or months (and endless frustration) to set up. If your needs are simple, it’s entirely possible to have your platform set up and working well in under 1 day. In our most recent screencast, we run through all the most important steps in an hour, from setting up hosting to installing plugins and building an intuitive learner experience.

This demo platform does rely on a few key plugins and paid tools to make things a lot easier. Doing this with a free theme and your own plugins is possible, but site creation take many, more times longer. The first paid item we use is the University theme, and we added it because it takes care of styling LearnDash and WooCommerce elements so that you don’t have to spend hours fiddling with CSS and template files (which may not be styled at all with some things). I will add the disclaimer  that we don’t use the University theme at Uncanny Owl, but that’s because we can take care of our own styling and work with something more flexible. For beginners and fast projects, however, ease of use and ready-made styles are a lot more important that flexibility.

The LearnDash plugin itself is of course a requirement, and paired with both our free Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit and the associated Pro modules, it’s easy to build intuitive learner workflows and helpful pages in a few minutes. LearnDash and out Pro modules are paid plugins, but they both really are invaluable in building LMS platforms with WordPress.

The site in our demo is hosted on WP Engine. For beginners, we can’t understate how important it is to have hosting that’s easy to use and well supported. This is our main reason for doing the demo with WP Engine. Everything that’s needed is cleanly laid out and everything just works, including automatic daily backups, proactive security, a CDN, caching, a Staging site (that works seamlessly with SSL, unlike some other WordPress hosts), and much more. The difference for a novice WordPress users on WP Engine vs. a generic shared host with cPanel is like night and day.

We created this screencast to target enthusiastic DIY LearnDash and new WordPress users. We especially hope that it helps the people that aren’t able to use our consulting services (perhaps because of time, budget, location, or other considerations). For those users, we really hope the video helps you get your site off the ground.

Tin Can for WordPress is Coming!

Update: Our Tin Can/XAPI LRS plugin with LearnDash reporting is now available. Read the announcement.

We’ve seen a lot of excitement for Tin Can use in WordPress in the past but very little use of it in the real world. After all, every Tin Can solution relied on a reporting application outside of WordPress. It meant segregating reporting and figuring out how to send Tin Can statements externally, plus reports tended to be too granular and not practical. Many LRS solutions obfuscated code and prevented customizations, so making improvements was impossible. We discouraged Tin Can use for our  clients because capturing data—and, more importantly, making the data meaningful—was just too cumbersome. Of course, the lack of a viable Tin Can solution also meant that WordPress wasn’t a useful platform for larger organizations that tended to create elearning modules with tools like Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate and others.

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We decided it was time to add Tin Can to WordPress. We just finished building a complete Learning Record Store (LRS) that’s entirely native to WordPress. It captures Tin Can statements with no configuration. Just upload Storyline or Captivate zip files, or add H5P modules, and statements are automatically captured right inside an existing WordPress site. And it integrates seamlessly with LearnDash, the leading WordPress LMS plugin.

Please note that all images in this post may change before the final release but were all generated with our plugin from live data. Additional charts will be added before release.

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Of course, Tin Can data isn’t of much use unless it’s feeding a robust reporting platform. We built that too! We’re still wrapping up the reporting work, but it’s going to add a lot of insight to administrators of elearning programs powered by LearnDash. It fact, it reimagines reporting for LearnDash data in a big way. Here are just a few of the metrics you’ll be able to see with our reporting:

  • course_chartAverage completion time of every course
  • Tin Can statements by verb, LearnDash Group, module, user, or almost any other combination you can think of
  • Course completion trends
  • Tin Can statement trends

There’s a lot more available, of course, but the metrics above are examples of data that was never before available for LearnDash courses. There are also drill down capabilities, so you can start from a view of overall course activity and click down to seeing which topics have been completed by a particular user. It’s all inside WordPress too—there are no CSV files or external applications to worry about. We support instant sorting, filtering and searching inside javascript data tables too.

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The plugin will be available before the end of August, 2016. We’re very excited about it, but it’s also new territory for us and we want to make it as useful as possible to people using Tin Can modules in WordPress. Do you use Tin Can on your LearnDash sites, or are you considering it? Tell us what we can do to improve Tin Can in WordPress in the comments below!