What is the best software to sell courses online?
How can you easily create complex courses and monetize them?
Today, we’ll dive into two big popular WordPress Learning Management systems (LMS) to answer these questions: LearnDash and Sensei. We’ll compare their main features, pricing, resources and more.
LearnDash and Sensei
LearnDash is a WordPress LMS launched in 2013 and powered by Nexcess.
Simply by looking at the companies that trust LearnDash, you can tell it’s special. Some big online training courses that use LearnDash are none other than the University of Michigan and the Yoast Academy.
So if you join LearnDash, you’ll be in good company.
If you want to have an in-depth analysis of LearnDash, check out our LearnDash review and tutorial.
Sensei is a WordPress plugin created by Automattic, the company responsible for WooCommerce and Jetpack.
It has a very modern approach to course building, to the point it recently launched Tutor AI, an intelligent AI-powered assistant that helps students on their learning journey.
If you’re curious about how people are using Sensei, take a look at these courses created with Sensei Pro.
LearnDash has a simple, easy-to-use drag-and-drop builder to visualize how everything connects. You can also use page builders like BeaverBuilder and Divi.
LearnDash counts with hundreds of compatible plugins and themes to present your content. You can even use their Elementor compatibility integration to edit dynamic content.
Sensei works with blocks. They offer multiple features such as interactive videos and image hotspots. You can add hotspots to images so that when a user hovers over it, it will show them a popup with content.
You can also use other builders like Elementor or Divi to create your lessons.
As WordPress plugins, both LearnDash and Sensei have shortcodes, as well as blocks, which offer multiple customization options.
The shortcodes let you insert content into page builders, so you won’t have to use third-party plugins. Besides, they are 100% compatible with every theme or plugin, including WordPress visual editor themes.
Blocks, on the other hand, provide an easier interface in which to insert content and customize the options.
As we know, gamification is a key aspect of any online course. Being online is distracting so adding gamification features is important to keep your students engaged.
LearnDash counts with a toolkit to quickly get started with gamification. They have quizzes, certificates, assignments, awards and badges.
Their quizzes are quite complete, they include a wide variety of questions, from multiple choice to essay upload and assessment.
Sensei has basic quizzes and auto-graded quizzes right on their free plan. On their premium plans, you’ll find an AI that automatically generates 3 multiple-choice questions. You’ll also be able to add a quiz timer.
Finally, like in any good LMS, students will earn certificates after completing the course.
Both platforms integrate with automation tools. You can set different triggers, for example, engagement triggers which allow you to automate responses to a learner’s specific action.
Once set, LearnDash or Sensei can open a live chat each time someone fails a quiz. Or you can automatically send a specific email as soon as someone completes a lesson.
The thing here is that while LearnDash integrates with Zapier, Sensei integrates with AutomatorWP, a less popular option.
LearnDash lets you offer private coaching or tutoring sessions with a premium add-on.
Currently, the same can’t be said about Sensei: there are no private lessons.
LearnDash has a ProPannel add-on that deeply improves your admin experience, including access to advanced analytics. You’ll see your student’s real-time activity, the assignments pending, the number of courses and more.
Sensei’s analytics, on the other hand, don’t change that much from plan to plan. In all of them, you can export reports on student progress, lesson completion and course achievement.
LearnDash has a Focus Mode that is applied on all screens whenever your students want to avoid distractions. When they enable this mode, the main navigation and footer elements are removed from the page
Sensei doesn’t have a focus mode students can enable and disable but a series of distraction-free templates. The theme is only applied to your lessons; the rest of your pages or posts will keep using the theme you choose while setting up your site.
LearnDash integrates with Mailchimp, WooCommerce and GamiPress, among others. It also has multiple plugins such as the Some WISDM Instructor Role for LearnDash, the Uncanny Owl Toolkit and the LearnDash Essential Add-Ons Pack.
Sensei doesn’t have that many integrations, however, you’ll still find pretty cool things: MailPoet, VideoPress, WooCommerce and more.
Sometimes teaching can be a bit overwhelming, especially if done alone. LearnDash and Sensei help you deal with that issue by making it possible to add other teachers or tutors.
Sensei lets you add co-teachers to a course to help you with content and grading.
LearnDash has a Groups Plus add-on that allows you to both set up organizations and assign team leaders inside a group. The team leaders will add new members, grade assignments, view reports and more.
As mentioned before, Sensei has a new feature called Tutor AI. What’s cool about it is that it’s a WordPress block that can be used in a Sensei LMS course or other WordPress-powered LMS tools like LearnDash, Lifter LMS and Tutor LMS.
Learning is better when it’s dynamic and that’s what Tutor AI comes here to provide. When a student encounters a question within their course, they type their response, and Tutor AI engages in a conversation with them, offering hints, motivation and guidance.
LearnDash is available only in English. However, they have user-donated translations for multiple languages, from Arabic to Swedish. For those interested in other languages, they recommend using free translation tools such as poEdit or Loco Translate.
Sensei, on the other hand, is available in lots of languages. Its pro version has been professionally translated into 16 languages and its free plugin is translated by community members into 18 languages.
Neither LearnDash nor Sensei offer built-in features to create a multilingual site. So if you want to offer your course in multiple languages, you’ll have to use a third-party plugin. Sensei has tutorials for free and paid plugins.
Support and resources
Learning Management Systems usually have the most complete and diverse resources to help you get started.
LearnDash has guides, video tutorials, live webinars and clear documentation. If you visit their demo site and create a free account, you’ll get access to multiple videos guiding you through LearnDash.
They even have a Facebook Community where you can discuss ideas with others and post questions.
Similarly, Sensei has a blog, a demo and docs on the most important features. They also provide you with two types of support: a free support forum and paid support.
However, they don’t upload video tutorials and that’s a pity.
LearnDash doesn’t have free trials, but their free 48-hour demo lets you have a sense of all you can do with the LMS.
Besides credit cards, they also accept PayPal and they have a 15-day money-back guarantee. Now let’s see why they have won Capterra’s #1 Most Affordable LMS:
- One site: $199 per year. It includes updates and support for one site.
- Ten sites: $399 per year.
- Unlimited: $799 per year.
If, instead of their WordPress plugin, you prefer a fully hosted course website, you will have to pay $29 per month. And for a $50 value, you’ll also get the ProPannel.
Sensei, on the other hand, does have a free plan and a 14-day refund guarantee on its premium plans:
- Sensei Free: publish unlimited free courses, and create certificates and quizzes.
- Sensei Pro: $15 per month. Create interactive lessons and videos and access the Tutor AI.
- Sensei Bundle: $34 per month. Host on a new site, access built-in video management and get marketing tools.
LearnDash Pros and Cons
- It has a Focus Mode.
- Allows you to offer private lessons.
- A lot of learning resources and support.
- It requires you to purchase add-ons to access a lot of advanced features.
Sensei Pros and Cons
- It has Tutor AI.
- Available in multiple languages.
- Includes a free plan.
- Not many integrations.
LearnDash and Sensei are amazing learning management systems with a lot to offer for a low price. So at the end of the day, the choice between the two comes down to what you’re looking for.
If you are considering the idea of having one-on-one coaching sessions besides group lessons, LearnDash is the best option.
However, if that’s not your case, you should 100% go with Sensei. Not only do they have a full free plan but they will also make your life much easier thanks to their artificial technology and multilingual features.
What do you think?
Is Sensei better than LearnDash?
Tell us in the comments!