Choosing an e-Learning platform is never an easy task. Once you decide to set up an e-Learning business, this choice is one of the first choices that you need to make and also the most critical one. An ideal LMS solution should not only provide you enough tools to teach your students effectively during the initial days but also be able to scale with your growing requirements as your business grows.
That’s where open-source e-Learning platforms like Moodle and WordPress+LearnDash come into the picture. Not only do they provide the necessary features for creating any kind of e-Learning site, but their open-source nature also allows you to customize the platform as per your needs when you grow.
Now the question is… which option should you choose among these two? In this article, we’ll compare LearnDash and Moodle so you can determine the best platform for your needs. Let’s begin!
LearnDash vs Moodle – Fundamental differences
One of the most fundamental differences between LearnDash and Moodle is that the former is not a full-fledged LMS in itself. Instead, it extends the capabilities of a very robust, scalable, and flexible CMS platform (WordPress) in order to work as a great LMS platform.
Since a large part of its functionality is derived from WordPress, which is a general-purpose CMS for websites of all types and not an LMS per se, it involves a bit of a learning curve. Before you can learn your way around LearnDash you need to know how to deal with WordPress.
That’s not the case with Moodle though – it’s a full-fledged LMS with every single part of its functionality developed solely for the purpose of creating e-Learning. That significantly reduces the requirements of technical expertise that you need in order to navigate your LMS.
Another fundamental difference is in the nature of both offerings.
While Moodle is open-source software, LearnDash is a premium plugin developed for the open-source WordPress open-source CMS. So, while it’s based on the features and functionality of an open-source platform, it’s not an open-source solution in itself.
LearnDash vs Moodle – Features and Functionality
Next, let’s compare the features and functionality provided by both these platforms. While both LearnDash and Moodle provide all the features that are necessary for any e-Learning site, it’s natural that one of them provides more than the other because they’re two completely different offerings. Here’s a breakdown of their features:
- Asynchronous learning,
- Synchronous learning,
- Blended learning,
- Learner portal,
- Mobile learning,
- SCORM compliance, and
- Activity grading
Features unique to LearnDash
e-Commerce functionality and knowledgebase to help new users learn about the software. Integrates easily with Mailchimp, Stripe, and other popular services to let you create subscriptions and deliver them seamlessly. These features are missing from Moodle.
In addition, working with WordPress gives LearnDash the power to leverage all of WordPress’s 58,000+ plugins and themes.
Features unique to Moodle
Video conferencing and mobile app to engage your learners using smartphones. LearnDash lacks these features and requires extensions or other external tools to support them.
Winner – LearnDash
LearnDash vs Moodle – Content creation and management
Both LearnDash and Moodle provide enough tools to help you create and organize your course content in a professional manner.
However, there’s no doubt in the fact that there’s no better content management system than WordPress.
It’s the most successful CMS ever developed, and there are many reasons behind it, with its great content creation and organization capabilities being one of them. And since LearnDash utilizes those same capabilities for the content of courses, there’s no surprise in the fact that it’s miles ahead of Moodle.
There’s no end to what you can do with your course content on this platform. You can craft it, organize it and present it literally any way you want! There’s enough flexibility in it for that purpose, and even if the feature(s) that you need is not present in it, there’s a good chance that you can find a good extension to provide for it.
Thanks to WordPress, LearnDash also has a huge set of compatible themes that can be used to make your e-Learning site look professional.
On the other hand, Moodle also provides a lot of tools to help you create and organize your course content just as you wish, but it doesn’t have a huge set of themes like LearnDash to give you the freedom of designing your site just as you wish without any coding knowledge. That’s possible only with WordPress and LearnDash.
Winner – LearnDash
LearnDash vs Moodle – Ease of Use
While both LearnDash and Moodle are intuitive and easy to use with detailed guides and tutorials available to assist you in situations where you get stuck, there’s a certain difference between both platforms in this particular area that should be understood before you choose any of them. LearnDash is based on WordPress, which has always been known for its simplicity and ease of use.
In addition, due to its large community of developers and supporters, there’s no shortage of people willing to improve it and contribute to it. Due to these reasons, its backend UI is significantly easier to understand even for a beginner, and there are plugins available to achieve almost any kind of customization without writing a single line of code.
However, that’s not the case with Moodle. If you want complete control over every aspect of your site with this LMS, you need to have a basic understanding of coding. Without that knowledge, it’s not possible for you to control every aspect of your e-Learning site with this LMS. So the learning curve involved with it is a little steeper than it’s for LearnDash.
LearnDash vs Moodle – Support
Customer support matters a lot in the space of e-Learning. If your site goes down because of a technical snag, you can’t afford to keep it down for too long because your customers are students who want to learn something. You just can’t afford to waste their time! That’s why it’s also important to consider the support provided by both these platforms.
Both LearnDash, as well as Moodle, have dedicated support teams that take care of their users very well.
However, it’s worth keeping in mind that WordPress – which is the base of LearnDash – powers 30% of the internet. Naturally, LearnDash has a much bigger pool of talent available at its disposal than Moodle.
The result of this massive talent pool is that solutions for most problems are already available in the forums of LearnDash and WordPress, so you don’t even need to contact their support team.
That is not the case with Moodle. While it too has created a vibrant community of loyal users in its forums, the chances of finding a solution for everything in Moodle forums are not as great as finding help for LearnDash.
Winner – LearnDash
LearnDash vs Moodle – Selling your courses
Now, this is an area where LearnDash wins hands down, and Moodle falls short. While it’s a great LMS platform, it was never meant to be an e-commerce solution. The team that developed it focused solely on e-learning functionality, so there’s no feature in Moodle to let you sell your courses.
As long as you’re willing to educate people for free, it’s perfect. But as soon as you decide to sell your courses, you’ll find that you need something else besides your Moodle LMS (maybe a second system based on WordPress, or a Moodle extension that enables limited e-commerce functionality).
LearnDash, on the other hand, has no such problem. It’s based on WordPress, which already has a solid e-commerce extension in the form of WooCommerce to help you sell your courses.
That makes life significantly easier because you don’t need to maintain two separate systems. In addition to that, the functionality of WooCommerce is also much more advanced than that of any Moodle extension you can get.
Winner – LearnDash
LearnDash vs Moodle – Gamification
LearnDash and Moodle both come with great gamification features that can be used to increase the interest of your students in learning. Reward points, certificates, awards, badges, and other common gamification features are available in both of them.
Both have also got a set of plugins to enable even more sophisticated gamification features, like a ranking system, automatic achievements, brain games, and much more. Hence, when it comes to gamification, both are on-par.
Winner – None
LearnDash vs Moodle – Pricing
Pricing is another area where both LearnDash and Moodle are significantly different from each other.
While LearnDash is a premium platform that costs $199 per year, Moodle is completely free of cost because it’s an open-source platform.
The premium extensions of LearnDash are also costlier than the extensions of Moodle, but the costs are totally justified given the functionality and flexibility offered by LearnDash. It’s only if you can’t afford them that you’ll find the high costs a downside, otherwise, people rarely complain about the high cost of LearnDash and its extensions.
Winner – Moodle
Final Verdict: Which One Is Better?
Before we share our final verdict about which LMS platform is best, let’s have a side-by-side comparison of both platforms to make the task of choosing the ideal LMS even easier.
Learndash Pros And Cons
|Great UI and UX||Needs to be built from scratch|
|More than 50,000 extensions||Costly – $199 per month|
|Thousands of compatible themes|
|Great customer support|
|Powerful gamification features|
Moodle Pros And Cons
|Easy to use||No e-commerce functionality|
|Free of cost||Limited number of themes and plugins in comparison to LearnDash|
|Professional UI and UX|
|Great gamification features|
|Robust customer support|
LearnDash is significantly better than Moodle if you can afford to pay for it. It has got the kind of complete package with all the necessary themes, plugins, and features that you may need to sell your courses.
Moodle is good, but with a lack of e-commerce functionality, it falls short of expectations when you decide to sell your courses. Even though it has the extensions and other integrations to add that functionality, you’ll find that it’s still nowhere near the combo of LearnDash, WordPress, and WooCommerce.
So if money is not a problem, you should definitely go with LearnDash. Otherwise, you can choose Moodle too, which is not a bad choice if you want to provide free courses or want to create a small e-learning site with a handful of courses.
But if you’re trying to create a massive e-Learning marketplace with Moodle, chances are that you’ll need to play with its open-sourced code in order to make it suitable for your needs (like many international universities have done).
Ultimately, the choice comes down to your expectation from the platform, your familiarity with technology, and your future audience.
Which platform do you plan to choose? Drop a comment to let us know!