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  4. Install and Set Up Uncanny LearnDash Groups

Installing the Plugin

Important: This plugin requires PHP version 5.6 or higher and LearnDash version 2.3 or higher.  Please update before installing this plugin. 

After you purchase and download the Uncanny LearnDash Groups plugin, you can simply sign into your WordPress site as an administrator and navigate to Plugins > Add New. To install the plugin, click Upload Plugin to start the process. After installation and activation, you will be directed to the License Activation page to enter your license key and activate the plugin. The plugin must be activated to receive automatic updates.

License Activation Screen

Fig. 1 The Uncanny LearnDash Groups Plugin admin menu and license activation screen

Tip: The plugin download link and the license key are included in the purchase email (look for the hyperlinked file name, but note that it does expire after 48 hours) and are also available from within your Uncanny Owl account on this site.

 

Setting up the Plugin

Once the plugin is installed and activated, you can start setting up the basics! Note that plugin activation does create some new pages on your site and set up some default email templates, but more on those later.

Settings for Uncanny LearnDash Groups can be accessed by administrators from the WordPress back end under Uncanny Groups > Settings.

Groups Plugin Settings

Fig 1. Group Settings Page

The first section of the Settings page lets you customize the Per Seat Text displayed to users, as well as product pages when using the plugin with WooCommerce. For example, you may prefer to use “Per License” or “Per User”. Whatever custom label you decide to use, seats will be tracked based on the groups created and the number of seats made available for each group.

There are optional settings that can be applied to the Groups plugin, they include:

  • Allow Group Leaders to remove students at any time
    By default, Group Leaders cannot remove students from groups once the students have started course activities. Checking this box ignores this rule and allows Group Leaders to remove students at any time to free up seats.
  • Group Leaders don’t use seats
    Group Leaders added to the group as Group Members by a Group Leader have course access but will not use seats. Be careful with this option, as Group Leaders can exploit this to give unlimited students course access. Changing this setting will not affect current seat counts.
  • Do not add Group Leaders as Group Members
    Group Leaders will not be added to groups as members, will not take a seat and will not have course access. Changing this setting will not affect any existing memberships.
  • Automatically include Group Course products in Group License purchases
    Group Course products will be included as $0 line items when a user purchases a Group License. Check this if you want to be able to trigger integrations with other plugins (e.g. Follow-Up Emails, WP Fusion, Memberium) based on the courses included in a license.

Fig 2. Catalog Visibility

If you are using the Uncanny LearnDash Groups plugin with WooCommerce,  you can select whether a Group License Product is available in your WooCommerce store by adjusting its Catalog Visibility. This may be important depending on whether or not you want to sell premade Group License Products or you want Group License Products created by your customers to be available to others.  More about these concepts and how to set products up for purchase is covered in the Using the Plugin with WooCommerce article.

Identifying Group Management Pages

The next section of the Settings page identifies which pages (in the WordPress front end) are used for group management. These pages are created and added here automatically when the plugin is installed, but they can be modified as needed. Identifying the pages here makes sure that the buttons on different pages link to each other properly. More information about the pages that are created by the plugin and their shortcodes is available later in this article.

Enable Terms & Conditions Checkbox

You can create your own custom Terms & Conditions statement which can be added to your registration form (See Fig. 3.2 above). To enable this feature just add your statement to the text editor and click the save button. Your form will now include your Terms & Conditions checkbox as part of your registration form (see Fig 3.3 below). Please note that this feature does not apply if you are using a Gravity Form for group registration.

Upgrading Existing LearnDash Groups

When you set up the LearnDash Uncanny Groups plugin, you will be given the option to upgrade on the settings page (See Fig. 3.4 above).  When an administrator clicks on the Start Process button, all of the existing LearnDash groups which were created before installing the plugin will be made available to their respective Group Leaders to manage on the front end.  This upgrade will also include establishing the number of seats for each group that is a calculation of Group Leader(s) plus the number of users already in the group. So, everyone in the group will be set as an enrolled user in the group and the available seats will be set to 0.

What if you don’t upgrade existing groups?  Non-upgraded groups won’t be manageable in the front end.  They will, however, be available in the reports.

Email Settings

In the next section of the settings page, you can set the From Email, From Name, and the Reply To  for all group email communication, using the email templates provided by the plugin.

There are 5 built in email templates to set up and automate communications when users are added to groups. Note that all email templates are global; there is no way to send different communications to different groups, or to allow Group Leaders to add their own personal messages.

The variables associated with each template allow you to include personalized information (such as #FirstName, #LastName) for each user. Please take note of the variables for each template and their description below:

VariableDescription
#SiteUrlThis variable will display the website address for the site the user is being invited to join.
#loginUrlThis variable will display the address of the user log-in page of the site the user is being invited to join.
#RedemptionKeyThis variable will display a custom redemption key to be used for site registration and group enrolment by each user.
#EmailThis variable will display the users email address as saved in their user profile on the site.
#UsernameThis variable will display the username saved in their user profile on the site.
#FirstNameThis variable will display the users first name as saved in their user profile on the site.
#LastNameThis variable will display the users last name as saved in their user profile on the site.
#DisplayNameThis variable will display what is saved in their user profile on the site and used as the name displayed across the site.
#PasswordThis variable will display the password generated by the site for new user log-in.
#SiteNameThis variable will display the name for the site the user is being invited to join.
#GroupNameThis variable will display the group name for the group the user is being invited to join.

Use the Redemption Email Template to customize invites to new users for sign up and enrollment into a group. In this email template, make sure you include the #SiteUrl or #LoginUrl variable (where the user can find their way to the registration form), and the #RedemptionKey variable which is the key for group enrollment.

Fig. 4 Default redemption email settings can be edited and saved by an administrator

Be very careful with your email templates, because in most cases you can’t trigger them to be sent again. Set up all of your variables and test them before they are sent to learners.

Use the User Welcome Email Template to send a custom email to new users when they are simultaneously added as a new WordPress user and added to a group by a Group Leader. It is used in place of the Redemption email when users are created and sent passwords instead of codes that users can redeem to register themselves. This template includes the #Password variable because passwords are randomly generated for new users.  If you would prefer to have users select their own password, you can include a link to your site’s password reset page along with instructions to reset their password.

Fig. 5 User Welcome Email Settings

Use the Existing User Welcome Email Template to send email to existing users when they are added to a group by a Group Leader.

Fig 6. Group Leader Welcome Email Settings

Use the Group Leader Welcome Email Template to send a custom invite email to new Group Leaders when they are added as a new user and as a Group Leader. This template includes the #Password variable because passwords are randomly generated for new users. Please be sure to include the #Password variable in the email message, as there is no way to retrieve the password again and users would have to initiate password resets.

Fig 7. Existing Group Leader Welcome Email Settings

Similar to the new user and existing user welcome email templates shown above (see Fig. 4 and 5), the email settings page also provides the Group Leader Welcome Email Template  and the Existing Group Leader Welcome Email Template to send email to users when they are added as a Group Leader to a group.  Use the Group Leader Welcome Email Template to send a custom invite email to new Group Leaders when they are added as a new user and as a Group Leader. This template includes the #Password variable because passwords are randomly generated for new users. Please be sure to include the #Password variable in the email message, as there is no way to retrieve the password again and users would have to initiate password resets.

Important: The Uncanny LearnDash Groups plugin can generate a lot of emails when you have a lot of groups and learners. We highly recommend using a third party transactional email service like SparkPost. This will improve email deliverability from WordPress and make sure that there are no issues sending high volumes of emails as your Group Leaders invite users, especially as part of uploads.

Also note that emails generated by the plugin use the default sender name and email address for your WordPress site. If you want to change that, consider using a plugin to modify them, like WP Simple Mail Sender to change basic sender details,or even WP Better Emails if you need more control over email branding and want to wrap the messages in a nicer template.

Bulk Discount Settings

If you are using the Uncanny LearnDash Groups plugin with WooCommerce, you will see a Bulk Discount option under the Uncanny Groups menu.  Bulk discounts are optional and are applied when buyers of group licenses pass seat/license thresholds (including when seats and courses are added after purchase). These bulk discounts are automatically calculated and applied to Group License purchases at checkout.  All applicable prices and bulk discounts are also recalculated if Group Leaders add seats and courses to existing Group Licenses via the Group Management page. For detailed information about selling group licenses please see the Using the Plugin with WooCommerce article.

You can set up to three discount rules based on a minimum quantity of seats purchased.

  1. As an administrator in the back end, choose Uncanny Groups > Bulk Discount.
  2. Check Enable Bulk Discount.
  3. Set up the minimum quantity of seats and the discount you would like to be applied if that minimum quantity is reached, and click on Add discount line. You can remove previous discounts using the Remove last discount line button.
  4. Click Save Bulk Discount to save the changes.

Fig. 8. Up to ten bulk discount rules can be applied to the purchase of Group Course Products, automatically calculated at the cart and check out steps.

A Note About Roles

When you add Group Leaders using this plugin (by ecommerce, from the Group Management page or as an admin), the system adds the Group Leader role to any roles the user may already have. Some sites do not natively look for users to have multiple roles though, and what can happen is that if you edit a Group Leader from the user’s profile page in the back end then the Group Leader role can be removed. This will revoke access to things that normally require Group Leader permissions. If you do plan to update Group Leader profiles manually, we strongly recommend adding a plugin that supports multiple roles for a user, like the widely used User Role Editor. This will allow you to make profile updates and retain all assigned roles for your users.

Adding the Group Management Pages to Your LearnDash Site

When you activate Uncanny LearnDash Groups, three pages are automatically generated with custom shortcodes – the Group Management page, the Group Leader Report page, and the Group Leader Quiz report page. Each of these pages is automatically published to your site with a default slug (or WordPress permalink).

There are two additional pages available to be used with the plugin, the Buy Courses page and a custom Registration page. If you activate the plugin with the WooCommerce plugin already installed, the Buy Courses page is also automatically created with the following shortcode:

[uo_groups_buy_courses]

If you activate the plugin without the WooCommerce plugin, the Buy Courses page is not created but can be added to the site manually by adding the shortcode to a new page on your site. More information about how the Buy Courses page works for users is available in the Group Leader Purchase Experience article.

You can also manually add a registration page using a shortcode where users can enter an enrolment key along with their personal information (see the Setting up User Enrollment section below).

The pages that are auto-created or that you create using the plugin shortcodes can be renamed, URLs can be changed, and you can add them to your site menu however you like (more below).  However, if customizing page URLs, please do not use /groups in the URL path. The LearnDash plugin uses /groups in URL paths and duplicating that may cause unpredictable behaviour.

The table below outlines each page that is available with the plugin and their corresponding shortcodes and default WordPress permalinks.

Page NameDescription ShortcodeDefault WordPress URL (Permalink)
Group ManagementThe Group Management page provides all the functionality for Group Leaders to manage their own groups.[uo_groups]group-management
Course ReportThe Course Report (which can also be accessed from the Group Management page) allows Group Leaders to view course reports of their group members.[uo_groups_course_report]group-management-report
Quiz ReportThe Quiz Report allows Group Leaders to view quiz reports of their group members[uo_groups_quiz_report]group-quiz-report
RegistrationThe user Registration page is a custom registration page you can use when inviting users to join a site and group and redeem an enrolment code.[uo_groups_registration_form]user-registration
Buy CoursesThe Buy Courses page allows Group Leaders and new customers to purchase courses and create new Groups directly. This page is only auto-generated if you activate the plugin after WooCommerce is installed and active.[uo_groups_buy_courses]group-management-buy-courses

You can set the order that courses appear in the courses dropdown menu on the Course Report with the following shortcode:

[uo_groups_course_report course-order="ID"]

The table below outlines available attributes for the Group Leader Report.

Shortcode and AttributeDescriptionAttribute ValuesDefault Value
[uo_groups_course_report course-order="ID"]Set the order that courses appear in the Course Report dropdown menu."ID", "title", "date", "menu_order""title"

You can set the order that courses and quizzes appear in their respective dropdown menus on the Quiz Report with the following shortcode:

[uo_groups_quiz_report course-order="ID" quiz-orderby="ID" quiz-order="ASC"]

The table below outlines available attributes for the Group Leader Quiz Report.

Shortcode and AttributeDescriptionAttribute ValuesDefault Value
[uo_groups_quiz_report course-order="ID"]Set the order that courses appear in the Quiz Report dropdown menu."ID", "title", "date", "menu_order""title"
[uo_groups_quiz_report quiz-orderby="ID"]Set the order that quizzes appear in the Quiz Report dropdown menu."ID", "title", "date", "menu_order""title"
[uo_groups_quiz_report quiz-order="ASC"]Set the order that quizzes appear as either descending or ascending."ASC", "DESC""ASC"

Setting up User Enrollment

When Group Leaders begin managing their groups on the front end using the Groups Plugin, they will be able to assign redemption keys to users they invite to join a group (more about this in the Group Management Page article). Setting up the Registration page and other ways for users to redeem their shortcodes will be important so Group Leaders can direct users to the right place and you can set up email communication to send the appropriate links to users who have been invited with a redemption key.

As shown in the table above, a user registration page can be set up for new users to register and redeem their keys the first time they use the site.  Using keys is optional and this page may not be needed; it’s only used when keys are distributed.  There is no variable for the registration page in email templates, so if you use it, make sure you add the page URL to your templates or link to this page from your site menu so all new users can find it.

For existing users, a quick and easy-to-use redemption form can also be added to pages and widgets in WordPress for users to access when they are logged in. Simply add this following shortcode to a page or widget and publish to the site for an existing user to see:

[uo_groups_registration_form]

User Registration Shortcode Attributes

Attribute NameDescriptionAttribute ValuesDefault Value
redirectRedirects the user to the specified page after they submit the formA relative or absolute URLnone (keeps user on same page)
code_optionalSpecifies whether or not the registration code is an optional field"yes" or "no"no
auto_loginSpecifies whether or not the user should automatically be logged in on form submission"yes" or "no"yes
roleSpecifies the new user's roleany valid WordPress role (e.g. "group_leader")subscriber

Registration with Gravity Forms

In version 2.1 of the Groups plugin and later, Gravity Forms registration forms can be used in place of the built-in form. For this to work, you must have both Gravity Forms and the User Registration add-on for Gravity Forms on your site.

To use Gravity Forms, create a new registration form with registration feed on a new page. Test them first to make sure they’re working, then navigate to Uncanny Groups > Gravity Forms as an administrator. Use the drop-down list at the top of the page to select the Gravity Form you’re using for the registration process with Groups (this registration form should only be used in conjunction with Groups; create separate registration forms if other users will register outside of the Groups workflow). Once selected, an enrolment key field will be added to the bottom of the form automatically to allow (or force) users to add a registration key.

Adding Group Management Pages to the Site Menu

By default, none of the auto-generated or manually published pages with the Uncanny LearnDash Groups plugin are added to your site menu.

However, you can add the Group Leader Report page, the Group Quiz Report page, or any page you generate with the plugin shortcodes described above, to your site’s navigation menu. Before you do, remember that menu entries are shown to all users by default and these pages only apply to Group Leaders. Using a plugin that can control the visibility of menu entries by role, like the Nav Menu Roles plugin, is highly recommended.

To set up menu entries for your new Groups pages, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to Appearance > Menus as an administrator.
  2. Expand the Group Management section. Drag the Group Management, Group Leader Report, Group Quiz Report, Buy Courses page or the Registration page to where you want the link to appear in the Menu Structure.
  3. If you have Nav Menu Roles installed, choose the Group Leader role for the menu visibility.
  4. Click Save Menu to save the change.

The menu links will be visible to all users,  but only Group Leaders will be able to use these pages. Any user or administrator that is not a Group Leader, will see an appropriate message indicating they need to be a Group Leader to access and use the page. If you would like to hide these menu links from users that are not Group Leaders you can use a plugin such as Nav Menu Roles to do so.

Adding a Button

You can  add the following shortcode, which appears as a button, to a sidebar, post, or page:

[uo_groups_url]

The text attribute allows you to customize the label for the button. Like the Group Management menu link, this button will only be visible to logged-in users that are also Group Leaders.

Front End Messaging to Group Leaders and Group Members

An added benefit of the Uncanny LearnDash Groups plugin is you can now create targeted messages to members of specific groups on any page or post using a shortcode:

[uo_groups_restrict_content user_groups="123"]Welcome![/uo_groups_restrict_content]

In the example above, content wrapped in the shortcodes will be seen by everyone who is part of the group whose ID is 123.

You can also display content to multiple groups by specifying two or more group IDs separated by commas. For example:

[uo_groups_restrict_content user_groups="123,456"]Welcome![/uo_groups_restrict_content]

This plugin is an extremely useful way to show conditional course content to learners. To get the ID of a LearnDash Group, edit the group as an administrator and look at the address bar of your browser. In the URL you’ll see a string that looks like, “?post=1169”. The number after the equals sign is the ID of that LearnDash Group.

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