Segregating learners into groups is an exceptionally handy feature, which considerably eases up user management and opens up opportunities for social learning. The use cases are numerous – if your site has multiple instructors teaching courses, each instructor can have his own Group of learners for easy management, with one or more courses associated with the Group. Or perhaps a corporate training scenario, where each department is managed into individual groups, with provisions to internally communicate and collaborate.
LearnDash does have an in built support for Groups, although it lacks social features like progress tracking and real time communications. Neither of WP Courseware, LifterLMS and Sensei can make use of learner groups without the use of additional extensions, as covered in later sections.
Everybody loves Facebook! Reading real time updates from your best buddies brings in a sense of connectedness – that of belonging to a virtual community where you’re valued and respected as a member.
The very same concept can be applied to LMS ecosystems on WordPress, connecting users together to form an elearning community. An activity stream, where users can see course activities like lesson/module completion, quiz completion occurring in real time, can be a great incentive for your learners to perform even better and bring in healthy competition.
BuddyPress, WordPress’ most popular and trusted social media plugin, integrates with all 4 plugins on our dissection table. And it does the job well. In essence, it let’s you create course-group associations, where each group containing a number of members is directly mapped onto a course. Also present are Facebook-like personal profile pages for all the members, the ability to communicate via messages, and an Activity Stream that keeps track of all course related activities within a BuddyPress Group.
Discussion forums play the role of an open discussion session in a classroom – a place where learners can discuss subjects and topics and contribute to the knowledge base, share ideas, work on their communication skills and make the process of e-learning a lot more interesting. Learn and let learn.
bbPress, the top WordPress plugin for the job, creates a topic for every course when it’s integrated with an LMS plugin. All the users enrolled in the Course are automatically added to the discussion, where they can view and comment on discussion threads.
LearnDash, with the help an integrating plugin, makes the most of bbPress, and is the only plugin to do so. bbPress can also be used in tandem with BuddyPress, where each BuddyPress group will have an associated discussion forum.
This is where the boundaries between a digital and physical classroom begins to blur. Collaborative tools, with respect to elearning, are anything that will let a learner collaborate with his peers in the process of elearning. It could be something as simple as a video conferencing software or perhaps an advanced project management software where multiple individuals can simultaneously research, collate, and produce content for the same project.
Gamification is yet another form of learner engagement that can drive your elearning stats through the roof. As the name would suggest, gamification is the incorporation of game-like mechanics in the process flow of elearning in order to further engage learners and provide them with an incentive to perform even better.
Gamification in WordPress LMSs is usually implemented with the help of points and event based achievements, a user will earn a fixed number of points on triggering an event like initiating a course, completion of a lesson or a course, or perhaps successfully passing a quiz. The use of Badges as achievements is an added advantage, when combined with a social network these reward badges can be displayed on the profile page of a learner, thus display to his peers his level of proficiency for a particular course.
BadgeOS is the most popular choice of a gamification plugin for WordPress, and integrates seamlessly with LearnDash and Sensei. It’s easy to use and quite customizable, one can easily define events to be triggered for points and achievements as per requirement. BadgeOS also uses Credly to award badges, which can be displayed on your BuddyPress profile page with a bit of customizations.
LifterLMS has it’s own Engagement module that centers around events, and lets you choose between awarding the users with certificate or an achievement. It’s actually quite neat for an inbuilt gamification module, and also lets an admin trigger emails for events such as when a user hasn’t logged in for a long time.