LearnDash is a powerful online course creation and management tool today, on WordPress.
Offering several options for user enrolment and engagement, LearnDash makes online learning fun for end users and helps convert an instructor’s passive hobbies to active interests.
But not all instructors are interested in creating an independent e-learning site. Why bother with the hassle of building, marketing and maintaining an e-learning website, when all you want to do is sell a handful of courses?!
Banking on a course marketplace.
Course marketplaces like Udemy, Open Sesame, Coursera, and Lynda.com cut short a not-so-tech-savvy instructor’s task.
Now, looking at the success of these course marketplaces, your business mind might want to create a marketplace of your own.
Considering LearnDash is user-friendly, setting up and maintaining a marketplace with this LMS plugin is a pretty sweet idea! 🙂
And here, we’ll be focusing on how exactly this can be done!
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What Exactly is a Course Marketplace?
Let us understand how exactly a course marketplace works, which will give us a fair idea of how to build one.
Simply put, course marketplaces are like online libraries that display courses by multiple authors.
Courses categories have filters like subject, language, author, organization, most popular, trending, free, premium and more, which let end-users find the exact course they’re looking for and enroll for it.
Admin recommendations can also be set up for first-timers, who are new to the platform and have no idea where to begin. A student can then choose to enroll to a course, complete it and receive his “Certificate of Completion”.
Meanwhile, the marketplace host takes a fixed cut of an instructor’s income per enrolment.
Thus we see that broadly speaking, there are three important factors in creating a successful course marketplace, namely:
- Allowing instructors to create a course,
- Proving students and instructors communication forums,
- Managing revenue
LearnDash has a robust course creation system, with several add-ons and integrations besides its inherent features. All of these interact skillfully with one another to help you create and run your course marketplace efficiently.
How? Let’s see.
Creating a Course Marketplace Using LearnDash
LearnDash takes care of course creation.
LearnDash is BUILT for creating courses, so this part, though not a cakewalk, is relatively easy. LearnDash supports everything from regular, lesson-based courses, to multi-tier, course bundles that can be drip-fed to your students.
It has plenty of assignments addition and quizzing options that can be used to create examinations of progressively increasing difficulty levels.
Depending on what your subject is, you can design a course with flexible prerequisites and add links to external resources like articles, videos and PDF documents. You can even upload them in your course which can be then downloaded by your students for perusal.
Creating courses in LearnDash is very simple and there is plenty of documentation available on their website which can guide you through any issues that might arise.
However, only the administrator can create courses in LearnDash.
Allowing Instructors to Create Courses
On your LearnDash-based course marketplace, you need to allow external instructors to sign up and create and conduct their own courses.
For this, LearnDash has the Instructor Role plugin that lets you add multiple instructors to your site and define their user roles.
As an instructor, these members can add their courses to your website. They can create, administer, conduct and sell their courses on your course marketplace. They have the liberty to manage all student communications, set and examine quizzes, working, for all intents and purposes as a junior course creator on your website.
Building Student Communication Forums
This part is somewhat trickier.
For any course to be successful, you, as an instructor, need to be in regular contact with your students, addressing their queries, creating discussion forums and groups where their doubts can be cleared. This generates the feeling of a community within your class, which spurs the students to take a greater interest in the course activities.
That is why course marketplaces have subject-specific forums where students and teachers can discuss the course, communicate their thoughts about the various assignments and be a part of a collective learning entity.
LearnDash uses its BuddyPress and bbPress integration to this end, which allows for creation of user profiles and adding them to forums.
BuddyPress is a WordPress plugin that lets users create online profiles like those on Facebook or any other social networking site.
The LearnDash-BuddyPress integration lets the course admins add these profiles and create course-specific groups when students enrol for a specific course.
bbPress is a forum creation software for WordPress that lets you add forums and discussion threads to your site.
As in the real world, not everyone might be able to clear the quizzes or understand the content you have set up in your virtual course. In such a case, it is a great help if you get in touch with the student personally, immediately after the quiz and help them work through the problems they might have.
The LearnDash-bbPress integration adds a discussion forum functionality, helping you create an active student community on your LearnDash course marketplace.
Students get more involved in a course when there are goals to be reached and accolades to be won. LearnDash incorporates gamification options using WPAchievements or BadgeOS. These integrations allow the admin to add awards and badges for each quiz, lesson or level completed in the duration of the course and commemorate these events.
As mentioned, in a course marketplace instructors can add and sell their own courses.
What you need to manage is the remuneration per enrolment that is shared between the two of you according to a previously fixed percentage.
These commissions are awarded to the instructor every time a student enrolls for their course.
The Instructor Role add-on (that adds the ‘Instructor Role’) takes care of this functionality. The percentage commission for each instructor can be varied as per your discretion.
A Mobile Application
If you need to maintain a competitive edge, you need to appeal to course creators as well as the course takers. Naturally, having a mobile app developed for your eLearning website becomes a complete no-brainer.
That being said, under usual circumstances, building a mobile app could be quite a task. A huge investment in terms of time, money and efforts. But, when you’re working with a plugin like LearnDash, you’ve got a vast community and a myriad of plugins and solutions to back you up.
WisdmApp for LearnDash is one such solution, that makes getting to the mobile market a whole lot easier. It’s a student-centric app that’s built specifically to engage learners. It’s got all the features you expect from a native iOS or Android mobile application like – optimized screens and quiz layouts, support for LearnDash course structure, push notifications, the ability to scale and accommodate all your users – right out if the box.
The best part about this app is that it’s extremely economical and can be white-labeled and customized to support requirements that are specific to your business.
Apart from fundamental operational level functionalities of a Course Marketplace, other features you could offer using LearnDash are:
- Clean and Beautiful Dashboards
- Responsive Design
- Personal Instructor LearnDash Dashboard
- Progress Tracking and Student Analytics
- User-friendly Course Authoring Tools
- Auto/Manual Student Enrollment
- Bulk Student Enrollment
- Secure Payment Gateways
- Course Ratings and Review Options
However, integrating all of these features means you need to buy and set up a dozen different extensions, which can make the cost of your course marketplace go through the roof. And I’m not even talking about keeping track of all those renewal dates, plugin updates, and maintenance overheads. Yeesh! 😐
A better alternative is to opt for product bundles – like the LearnDash Add-Ons Pack (LEAP) – which minimizes your total investment while maximizing the features you get. In addition, using a bundle means that you don’t need to bother with the hassle of managing 10 products individually, they are all ready for use in a neat little package!
These steps can help you easily set up a course marketplace using LearnDash. To display multiple courses simultaneously, you can look up the Grid Layout add-on for LearnDash which lets you set up courses with their names and a short description in a flexible layout format. Filters can be added for users to search courses from set categories.
Ordinarily, marketplaces like Udemy do not let you control the visitor traffic and the revenue instructors earn from each student’s enrolment, this excluding the refunds you might have to pay if a student withdraws from the course.
LearnDash on the other hand, gives you complete control over all these factors, making it possible for you to manage marketing strategies and host courses as per your choice. This does not only make managing marketplaces more profitable but also helps you create your own brand of courses.
You can either create a niche course marketplace or an all-encompassing one, either way, the choice remains yours here. To sum up in a sentence, when you think long term, creating a course marketplace using LearnDash is your best bet.