With the recent boom in WordPress based Learning Management Systems (LMS), LearnDash has risen to fame as one of the three most popular LMS solutions (WPMLS & Woo Sensei being the other two). LearnDash is flexible owing to which it has opened the door to countless customization. This makes LearnDash well suited for several user scenarios.
But for those considering LearnDash for a network, there is the ever-popular question that floats in their minds- Can LearnDash work well in a WordPress Multisite structure?
To answer that, let’s first take a look at the ‘why’.
Why are LMS owners looking to take the multisite route?
Why an LMS Multisite Structure?
There are several benefits of employing a multisite structure for a learning management system. A multisite structure provides one point of access for several sites and saves development costs. Below, I’ve listed four scenarios where a multisite can be used:
For a University Website
Multisite is ideal for those looking to create an LMS for a university. Each sub-site can be used as a dedicated LMS for each specialization. Multisite allows the owner to control the plugins on all the subsites from a single point of login.
For one-click LMS website creation
If you’re looking to offer members the option to create their own LMS, you can use a multisite setup. With a multisite installation and the plugins and theme pre-installed on the main site, a new LMS (as a subsite) can be created in one click.
LMS and CRM Integration
A subsite is also a great option to host your CRM, for ease of access and data transfer. A CRM can tie in quite nicely with your e-commerce store as well. Course purchases and student details can be passed on to your CRM, and manual enrollments can be handled as well, providing a single point of management.
LMS and Job Portal Integration
WordPress multisite is great if you want to host a Job Portal on a subsite. This way you can allow a third-party organization to handle the job portal. The job portal won’t have access to your main site. But as the super admin, you can always keep a check on what’s happening.
Can LearnDash Work in a Multisite Network?
So, if your reason to use WordPress multisite is one of the above, or you have your own, the question that still has to be answered is will LearnDash be the ideal LMS on a multisite network.
Will LearnDash work well on a multisite network?
Well obviously, it should work. It’s just a plugin… isn’t it?! It says so on their website!
But the answer is not as simple. It depends on what you are trying to achieve.
The Ideal Scenario: LearnDash for a University website
Let’s take the ‘University website’ example. Say you’re running an online university and have a WordPress multisite setup where you have different departments on each subsite. The main site introduces the student to the university and its different departments.
The student just uses the main site to navigate to the subsites and continues the enrollment process on a subsite. This is quite a standard workflow since different departments do not have any correlation.
LearnDash can be used in this scenario.
The Not-so-Ideal Scenario: LearnDash Multisite for an Online Learning Center
But, let’s say you run an ‘Online Learning Center’ and want to dedicate a subsite for each course. Your idea is to use the main site to garner traction and give users a “One Glance See All” view and allow them to purchase a course from a single point. But since you have a lot of material for each course, you want individual courses on subsites.
You can use LearnDash on all your subsites to create the courses. But to showcase all your courses on the main site, you will have to fetch the courses from the subsites and allow a purchase option on the main site.
When a user purchases the course on the main site, he/she has to be enrolled for the course on the subsite.
Darn! This is getting more complicated by the minute.
Well, let’s try to work through this. We can’t simply ignore a scenario because it’s too complicated!
Okay. I’ll break it down for you. Here’s what we’re looking to achieve:
- The course will be set up on the subsite and will simply be displayed on the main site. This means any actual learning will happen on the subsite.
- Students will be able to purchase the courses from the main site and will have to register via the main site as well- irrespective of whether they purchase individual courses or memberships for all the courses.
- Students will have to access the courses on the dedicated subsite where he/she should not have to register again and should be able to login with the same username and password that has been used on the main site.
Now, all we have to do is connect the dots. Can LearnDash be used in this scenario? How will each step be handled?
Let’s take a look.
Setting up Courses on Subsites
As mentioned, this will be handled by LearnDash. LearnDash will be the main LMS and will be activated on all sites on the network. The courses and lessons will be set up on each subsite.
Displaying and Selling Courses on the Main Site
On the main site, we can use WooCommerce to create a product for the course. If we have to simplify the WooCommerce product creation process, we will have to provide a meta field that will link the product to the LearnDash course. When a course is selected in the meta field the course description will be fetched and added as the product description. All we’ll need to do is set the price.
The WooCommerce shop page can be used to display all the courses.
Handling Course Purchases on the Main Site
The purchase of the course will follow the default WooCommerce flow. But there won’t be a ‘Guest Checkout’ option. The student will have to register on the website to purchase the course.
Enrolling Students for the Course on a Subsite
Now comes the tricky part.
Once a student registers on the main site, we’ll have to enroll the student on the subsite for the purchased course. This means we’ll have to grant the student access to the particular subsite. This can be handled using a ‘Single Sign-On’ functionality. With this functionality, the student can log in on all sites by signing in on the main site.
When a course is purchased, we will have to push the student’s details to the subsite which will include the course(s) purchased, and then enroll the student for the course.
Notifying the Student
We’ll have to customize the WooCommerce order email as well. In the order email, we’ll have to send a link to the subsite along with the purchased course details.
You can use LearnDash on a WordPress multisite network when each subsite is independent of the other. However, some scenarios might call for some customization. For example, in cases where courses on all subsites have to be accessible from the main site. 🙂
If you’re not sure of the category your requirement falls under, or if you’re not sure of going the LearnDash multisite route altogether, the comment section is where you need to direct your questions, and I’d be happy to assist you 🙂