LearnDash – WordPress-based LMS System

[imageeffect type=”reflect” align=”aligncenter” width=”200″ height=”65″ alt=”LearnDash – WordPress-based LMS (Logo)” url=”http://businesscriticallearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/learndashlogo-top1.png” ] LearnDash, the WordPress-based LMS releasing Jan 28, is a product that I have been eagerly awaiting (as I hinted in my post taking up the 10 Tools Challenge from Jane Hart). Truth be told, I am more excited to try this out than any other product on the market currently (and that’s a tall order with some great tools like iBooks Author and Storyline to experiment with). Looking at the features of the product, it is quite easy to see why I am so excited, but here are some key points: [list style=”arrow” color=”blue”]

  • TinCanAPI – Yes, LearnDash is offering some nice tools to help build courses, assessments, and enable video upload, but as an early adopter of TinCanAPI, it seems to have the opportunity to beyond courseware. For those of us that have been frustrated with the limitations of SCORM, this is extremely liberating. I am very excited to see how we can learn more about our users’ activities as they interact in work ecosystem.
  • Analytics – In addition to TinCanAPI and the Reports offered by LearnDash, there are many analytics plugins for WordPress (such as Google Analytics). Analytics can track “flow” through a site and find breakdown, stall, and abandonment points, and provide many other insights that tell stories about how well resources in that environment are supporting workers.  The great thing about WordPress is that plugins generally aren’t “either/or”, it’s almost always an AND/EXTEND. Thus, you may be able to extend the features of LearnDash through utilies offered from other WordPress plugins.
  • Mobile/Responsive – This is where I see LearnDash having a tremendous advantage over many other tools in this space.  Few LMS systems are mobile/responsive. Most LMS system interfaces are dated and just make users very sad. Brading? Most LMSs let you replace their logo in the upper right or left corner with your logo- as long as it fits in the predetermined size they’ve left for you. Most don’t let you customize navigation in any way. LearnDash notes that it can work with WordPress themes- and WordPress has hundreds choose from; colors, layout, navigational approaches that YOU select to work for your company. Many themes are mobile and/or responsive. So you can have content deployed with WordPress that resizes dynamically to best use the real estate on each device it is viewed on.  For LMS systems, I see no comparison, but this is not only an advantage from an LMS perspective, but it also concerns the content deployed from LearnDash (i.e. quizzes, learning content). The content can be more dynamic than many of the content tools that author for a “one-size-fits-all” perspective (even some of the mobile authoring tools trap you into small-screen templates that don’t “size up” if you jump to a tablet or desktop).
  • Social – The power and importance of social components in the learning process are well-known. LearnDash certainly offers a set of tools to facilitate social learning. However, just as with analytics, other plugins (such as BuddyPress, rating tools, etc.) should be able to further extend the utlity of the core features set.
  • The LMS “stuff” – Let’s not overlook or ignore the importance of core LMS features. For many organizations, identifying key groups, assigning them training, and tracking their progress is critical. Scheduling, granting access, notifications, reporting- these functions are important when formal learning is required. LMS systems do serve an important service in providing the “glue” to hold these services together. In  Clark Quinn’s When To LMS, there seemd to be a consensus that users want this “glue” to be on a flexible platform that gave users more control and options than traditonal LMS systems. I hope that by building on WordPress, LearnDash has a good chance to deliver on this vision.
[/list] I could go on and on, but I will stop here. I am eager for Jan 28 to get my hands dirty, and I will report back what I learn as explore.