According to data from Research and Markets, the COVID-19 pandemic has substantially increased demand for e-learning courses. In fact, projections indicate the global e-learning market will reach USD 390.6 billion by 2026, with an annual growth rate of 11.7% since 2020.
However, creating and monetizing your own online courses can be a taxing process.
Enter the new LearnDash Cloud, a WordPress-based online course platform. It’s an all-in-one course creation platform that not only helps you create and monetize your courses but also hosts your course website.
In this LearnDash Cloud review, we’ll delve into the features, benefits, and quirks that shape this hosted WordPress solution. From its course builder to student engagement features and pricing structures, this detailed review will help you make an informed decision about whether it’s best for your online business.
We’ve already reviewed the LearnDash plugin for WordPress in detail. The concept is simple: you have a WordPress website, and the LearnDash plugin helps you turn that website into a learning management system. This means you can turn your WordPress site into a course you can manage, market, and monetize.
But what if you don’t have a WordPress website?
That’s where LearnDash Cloud comes into the picture – a hosted WordPress platform for course creators and edupreneurs.
It’s like the LearnDash plugin’s big sibling, offering everything that the LearnDash plugin does but with additional benefits. It operates like other full-fledged online course platforms, not just a plugin.
This means it also comes with pre-built themes and templates to help you create your course site, where you can host and sell your courses. No need to install anything on your website, as LearnDash Cloud takes care of everything for you.
Here’s a quick overview of all the key features you’ll get with LearnDash Cloud:
- All-Inclusive Hosting: A fully-hosted website with LearnDash LMS and ProPanel.
- Intuitive Course and Site Builder: A drag-and-drop course and site builder to make course creation simple.
- Enhanced Learning Goodies: Advanced quizzing, drip content, embedded video, badges, certificates, and blocks to enhance the learning experience.
- Pre-designed Templates: A choice of dozens of beautiful and customizable templates that align with your brand.
- Fortified Security: iThemes Security Pro and automatic updates to keep your site secure and up to date.
- Speedster Mode ON: Object Cache Pro for optimized platform performance and fast load times.
When it comes to the look and features, you’ll notice that a bunch of stuff in LearnDash Cloud resembles what you’d find in LearnDash LMS. In this LearnDash Cloud review, we’re diving deeper into these features to help you make a smart call.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s quickly scan through what sets LearnDash Cloud and LearnDash LMS apart:
|LearnDash LMS Plugin
|LearnDash Cloud is a hosted platform, which means it covers secure hosting for your entire WordPress website, eliminating the need to find and manage separate hosting services.
|In contrast, the core LearnDash Plugin requires you to have your own WordPress website where you install the plugin.
|With LearnDash Cloud, there’s no need to install anything; you simply sign up and access the platform directly, making it easier to get started.
|To use the LearnDash Plugin, you need to install it as a plugin within your WordPress site. It’s simple enough, but you’ve got your work cut out for you with building the site and then configuring the plugin.
|LearnDash Cloud includes ProPanel, an advanced reporting and analytics tool that gives insights into student progress.
|Available as an add-on for an additional $49/year.
|Control and Customization
|LearnDash Cloud provides pre-built themes and templates, which makes it easier to get your course up and running, but the downside is you’ve got less flexibility.
|The plugin gives you a higher degree of control over your course website’s customization.
|LearnDash Cloud takes care of all technical complexities like website hosting and security.
|Using LearnDash Plugin involves handling technical aspects yourself.
|LearnDash Cloud handles updates for you, ensuring you always have access to the latest improvements without having to perform updates yourself.
|You’ll be responsible for updating the plugin to access the latest features and security enhancements.
Bottom Line: LearnDash Cloud is your friend if you’re looking for an all-in-one course platform that does everything for you – akin to course platforms like Thinkific and Teachable.
In contrast, the LearnDash plugin is suitable if you already have a WordPress website or have no qualms about hosting and managing your website.
Key Features of LearnDash Cloud: Enhancing Your Course Creation Experience
Let’s dissect some of its key features in detail:
If you’re acquainted with LearnDash LMS, you’re probably already familiar with its course builder that’s integrated into the WordPress environment.
You’ll have the option to create four types of courses, including simple, straightforward courses, certificate courses, courses with a time limit, and courses led by group leaders.
Once you’re in, you can spice up your courses with quizzes, lessons, topics, student assignments, images, audio, videos, text, and images using the drag-and-drop course builder. Additionally, the course builder supports SWF files, HTML5, xAPI, and even SCORM files.
If you want to jazz up your course a bit more, you’ve got multiple elements at your disposal. You can add cool blocks, topic lists, profiles, widgets, design stuff, and even embedding options.
In terms of monetization, LearnDash lets you accept payments either through Stripe or WooCommerce.
You can sell your courses as:
- One-time purchases
- Recurring subscriptions
- Course bundles
You can also set up prerequisites, making sure learners finish certain courses before they dive into others.
With LearnDash Cloud, you’ll get a drag-and-drop site builder and tens of ready-to-use templates. That means you can launch your course site without wrangling code or worrying over website design.
Once you select the template that you like and are inside the site builder, you’ll have your pick of fonts and color schemes. LearnDash goes the extra mile by setting up all the plugins you need for your site.
Note that if you already have a theme configured on your site, you can use that too.
After getting things set up, you’re all set to jazz up your site pages. Just mix and match blocks to your heart’s content – you can add ’em and shuffle ’em around (think, virtual Lego).
You’ve got a treasure trove of blocks you can add:
- Kadence blocks
- Text blocks
- Media blocks
- Design blocks
- Theme-based blocks
- LearnDash LMS blocks
For example, here are some Kadence blocks available for you to choose from:
You can also see how the builder is laid out. On the right side, you’ve got a bunch of settings to help you jazz up each block on the page. It’s like having a toolbox for crafting your site just how you want it.
LearnDash Cloud comes with Kadence themes and a step-by-step startup wizard. You get to choose from a lineup of templates for different industries and goals that you can further personalize the way you want.
This means your next course website can look and feel just like your brand – no design degree needed.
From tweaking colors, fonts, and layouts to arranging content blocks just how you like, LearnDash Cloud gives you enough flexibility to customize your course.
What makes LearnDash special is that you aren’t limited to using built-in themes and templates. You can add your own custom code to further tailor the design and functionality of your course site.
Since LearnDash is a part of WordPress’ ecosystem, you can also use WordPress themes and plugins to enhance your site with features like gamification, social learning, ecommerce, and analytics.
LearnDash offers a built-in quiz tool to help you create, edit, and arrange quizzes. You’ll get the option to add eight question types, from single and multiple choice to essays. The interface lets you easily tweak and organize questions.
After setting up your quizzes, you can fine-tune appearance and behavior settings. These include access timing, prerequisites, passing scores, and retakes. You can even shuffle questions for added variety.
To further enhance student engagement, you can add multimedia files, offer badges and certificates for accomplishments, and assign group leaders to track progress. You can even monetize group access to multiple courses.
LearnDash’s focus mode is another standout feature that helps eliminate distractions. Then, you have a video progression feature that makes sure they watch a full video before moving ahead.
On top of that, you’ve got automated notifications to keep your course audience updated, and content drip-feeding to keep their interest levels high.
When it comes to customer support, LearnDash has you covered with a range of options.
For starters, there’s the LearnDash Help Center that offers an extensive range of articles and a convenient search feature, while the separate knowledge base provides detailed guides and troubleshooting tips.
They also provide access to Live chat sessions in real-time during designated hours, offering immediate assistance.
Additionally, there’s a vibrant LearnDash Facebook community that serves as a hub for users to exchange insights, seek advice, and share experiences.
LearnDash integrates with multiple third-party tools, including email marketing platforms, ecommerce tools, checkout, membership management platforms, and communication tools.
Some popular integrations include WooCommerce for seamless course payment management, compatibility with popular membership platforms like MemberPress, and email marketing services such as Mailchimp and ConvertKit for targeted student communication.
That’s not all, they also support native integration with Zapier, which lets you further integrate with over 300 third-party apps.
LearnDash Cloud offers a tiered pricing structure to cater to different needs:
- Starter: Priced at $25/month when billed annually or $29/month for monthly payments
Ideal for most course creators, this plan offers essential features to kick-start your online courses. The Starter plan allows unlimited courses, 1000 learners, daily automatic backups, an SSL certificate, 20 PHP workers, and 30GB storage.
- Growth: Priced at $41/month annually or $49/month on a monthly basis.
The Growth plan is tailored for growing course businesses and comes with extra storage and discounted rates on premium add-ons. It also allows everything in the Starter plan, plus 5000 learners, 20% off LearnDash premium add-ons, 30 PHP workers, and 60GB storage.
- Pro: This plan comes in at $83/month when billed annually or $99/month for monthly payments.
It’s geared towards large businesses with numerous active courses and learners. The plan offers everything from the Growth plan, plus 25,000 learners, a free domain, 40 PHP workers, and 120GB storage.
Each plan also offers access to LearnDash LMS Plugin, ProPanel, iThemes Security Pro, and Object Cache Pro.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of LearnDash Cloud:
|LearnDash Cloud Pros
|LearnDash Cloud Cons
|LearnDash Cloud comes with hosting and domain services (on its highest pricing tier), eliminating the need for separate arrangements.
It offers tens of customizable templates based on different niches that you can use to create a professional-looking course site that aligns with your brand.
|With LearnDash Cloud, you might have a bit less control over the ins and outs of your site and courses. This is because you’re working within the options and settings provided by LearnDash Cloud.
|It offers tens of customizable templates based on different niches that you can use to create a professional-looking course site that aligns with your brand.
|Although user-friendly, the platform still requires some learning, especially for those new to WordPress or course creation.
|LearnDash Cloud’s tiered pricing options accommodate various stages of course creation and business growth.
|Being hosted on the LearnDash Cloud means you rely on their infrastructure. You may find it limiting if you prefer complete control over hosting.
|It offers built-in engagement and gamification features like badges, certificates, and content drip-feeding to keep learners motivated throughout their learning journey.
|It’s SCORM compliant, making it simpler to import and share interactive learning materials.
Can’t make up your mind about LearnDash Cloud? Or looking for something that’s not as tied to WordPress as LearnDash Cloud?
In that case, you might want to look at these popular alternatives to LearnDash Cloud:
Thinkific is one of the most popular course creation platforms that allows you to easily create, market, and sell your online courses.
It’s an all-in-one LMS solution that comes loaded with a user-friendly course builder, customization options, marketing tools, student management, pre-built templates, and integrations to enhance the learning experience.
Thinkific also supports various content formats like videos, quizzes, assignments, PDFs, and discussions, allowing for interactive and dynamic courses.
That said, LearnDash Cloud has an edge in terms of gamification elements like badges and access to WordPress themes and plugins.
Pricing: Thinkific starts at $36 per month if you pay annually.
They also offer a freemium plan that lets you create one course, one community, and host unlimited students.
Read our detailed Thinkific review to explore its features further and make a better decision.
While Teachable vs. Thinkific is a hot topic when looking for an LMS tool, Teachable is a top alternative to LearnDash as well.
Teachable is another user-friendly content creation platform that lets you build and sell online courses. It comes with all the features you’ll need to manage a course, including customizable themes, an intuitive course builder, multimedia support, monetization options, and marketing tools.
You can also use Teachable to host webinars, coaching, and downloadable products like e-books.
Aside from the usual LMS features, Teachable offers additional features like 1:1 coaching, group coaching, tax handling, and native integration with Zoom and Calendly.
Pricing: Teachable pricing starts at $39 per month if you pay annually. They also charge a 5% transaction fee on each sale.
There’s also a freemium plan that lets you create and publish one product of each type (course, coaching, downloads). With the freemium plan, you’ll have to pay a transaction fee of $1 + 10%.
Take a deeper dive into our comprehensive Teachable review for a better understanding of its features and make a well-informed decision.
Kajabi markets itself as an all-in-one platform that combines course creation, marketing, and sales. It also lets you create and monetize podcasts, memberships, coaching programs, and communities.
Some of its key features include website building, pre-designed templates, email marketing, funnels, a visual email builder, and membership management. One standout feature worth mentioning is Kajabi’s built-in AI tool that helps you craft your content outline, lesson content, and landing page copy.
Another highlight is Kajabi’s built-in CRM, which goes beyond the basics. It helps you sort your audience into different groups, provides data analysis, and streamlines your workflow for a more organized experience.
If your main goal is course creation and monetization, Kajabi might be overkill since they offer more features and product selling options than you actually need.
Pricing: Kajabi starts at $119 per month when billed annually. You also get access to a 14-day free trial – there’s no freemium plan.
Read our detailed Kajabi review to learn more.
LearnWorlds is an LMS platform primarily focused on helping you create interactive and engaging online courses. It’s one of the few course platforms that let you add elements like quizzes, polls, auto-generated transcripts, and clickable links right inside your course videos.
Aside from video courses, LearnWorlds also helps you create and monetize webinars, interactive e-books, 1:1 coaching services, and digital downloads.
You can also add student engagement elements like certificates, gamification, surveys, feedback forms, and discount coupons to your courses.
Pricing: LearnWorlds starts at $24 per month (with annual billing). While there’s a generous 30-day free trial available, it doesn’t have a freemium plan.
For a more comprehensive understanding, read our detailed LearnWorlds review.
With its WordPress ecosystem, LearnDash Cloud is a course creation tool that helps educators and small business owners overcome technical barriers and focus on what truly matters – crafting engaging courses.
From its drag-and-drop course builder to the site creation process, LearnDash Cloud streamlines the journey of educators. Its themes, customization options, and assessment features also help deliver meaningful learning experiences.
For student engagement, you get student assessment tools, drip-feeding content, and interactive elements.
All in all, you should use LearnDash Cloud if:
- You’re an experienced educator or just starting since it offers a user-friendly interface to effortlessly bring your course ideas to life.
- You’re already familiar with the WordPress ecosystem.
- You’re an edupreneur looking to monetize your expertise.
- You want to establish an efficient, branded online learning environment.
- You value learner engagement through interactive content, assessments, and tailored learning experiences.
- You’re one of the current LearnDash subscribers but want to switch to a fully hosted course platform that handles hosting, security, and other maintenance tasks for you.
You might not prefer LearnDash Cloud if:
- You’re unfamiliar with or don’t wish to go through the hassle of installing WordPress.
- You’re looking for a basic course setup without advanced features. In that case, LearnDash Cloud’s offerings might be overkill.
- You prefer minimal customization and are content with basic themes.
That’s our detailed look at everything LearnDash Cloud has – and doesn’t have – to offer. Feel free to drop any comments or questions below.
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