Last updated - February 24, 2020
An eLearning site is a popular eCommerce option you can try if you have specific knowledge on a topic. You can create a website and teach your students online. There are several tools to help you with set up an eLearning website. If you have a WordPress site, there are different interesting plugins that would help you create eLearning courses systematically. Sensei is a popular WordPress Learning Management System that you can try out to create courses pretty easily. In this tutorial, we will look into the process of creating an online course with Sensei eLearning plugin.
What is Sensei?
Sensei is a WordPress Learning Management plugin that you can purchase from the WooCommerce marketplace. You can create hierarchical courses which can be structured into different modules and lessons with the help of this plugin. Furthermore, you can integrate it with WooCommerce to charge your learners to access your course. A single site subscription of the plugin would cost you $129. Subscription for up to 5 sites would cost you $179 and a 25-site subscription is $279.
The features of Sensei eLearning solution
Before starting into the process of creating a course with Sensei, let’s quickly look into some of the standout features of the plugin.
Perfect integration with your WordPress site
Sensei is built to integrate seamlessly with your WordPress site. It creates a custom post type ‘Lessons’, to make the process of creating a course pretty simple. If you are familiar with the WordPress interface, you can create a course just like you create any other post.
Flexible option to create the course
Creating a course with Sensei is kind of a breeze. You can structure each course with multiple lessons and create quizzes for each lesson to test the knowledge of your students. For each course, you can set a set of guidelines or requirements specifying who all can take up that course.
Simple signup process for learners
Those who want to take up your course can easily signup as WordPress users on your site. On the dashboard, they can view all the details regarding the progress of the course.
Start earning by integrating with WooCommerce
If you want to monetize your course, you can manage that pretty easily too. Sensei integrates perfectly with WooCommerce. All you need to do is create a product with WooCommerce and link the particular course to it.
Compatible with most WordPress themes
Sensei is compatible with most popular WordPress themes out there that you will find. It comes with a default styling that would irrespective of the theme, given the theme is created following modern coding standards.
Easy course reports
You will get pretty detailed reports regarding the courses that are featured on your site. It is quite easy to get a glance of the ongoing courses detailing the content, students and grades.
Diverse options to create quizzes and question banks
Quizzes are an essential part of any online training course. It is how you assess how much your learners are gaining from the course content. Sensei helps you create multiple types of quizzes to test the involvement of your learners.
In fact, it also helps you create a question bank, which you can randomly use in different quizzes. This would make the whole process easier for your site.
And, you can choose how you want to grade your students when they take up quizzes. Either you can make it an automatic process, or can include a review system, where an instructor manually assigns the grade.
Extensions to add more features
If you wish to add more features to your online courses, there are several extensions available to help you with that. There are extensions to create content drip, completion certificates, attachment options, etc. In addition, you can get extensions to display the learner profiles who are currently taking a course, and also display the progress of the course to learners. Another interesting extension is the one that will help learners share their course progress on social media. Most of these extension come free of cost, except Sensei content drip.
If you want to restrict access for certain courses on your site with member’s only access, you can use WooCommerce memberships plugin with Sensei. We will discuss more details about this in another article.
How can you create a course with Sensei?
Firstly, you need to purchase and install Sensei plugin on your site. You can install it just like any other WordPress plugin. Once you install it, you need to activate it with the key provided by WooCommerce.
After activation you need to select ‘Install Sensei Pages’ to add the specific Sensei pages to your site. This is just like the standard WooCommerce pages, which you see when you first install WooCommerce. You can read more about WooCommerce installation process here. Sensei creates two pages by default.
This is a page that will display all your courses on the site. You can include this in the navigation menu on your site. Basically, it is created as a blank page, which Sensei auto detects and correctly displays. There are several filter options on this page, which will help learners find the courses they are looking for. Filter options include ‘All’, ‘Featured’, ‘Free’ and ‘Paid’.
Another new page Sensei installs on your site is My Courses. This will display a user their course history and ongoing courses if they are logged in. If the user is not logged in, it will prompt them to do so. When you install the Sensei pages, there will be a shortcode automatically added to the My Courses page – [sensei_user_courses]. However, this page won’t have any content until you add lessons and courses on your site.
Adding a course
One of the first things that you can do with Sensei is to add courses.
Navigate to Courses > All Courses > Add New to create a new course.
Here, just like any other post, you can create a title, and content in the designated fields. You will also see an option to add an excerpt. Here you can add any form of content such as text, image, video, etc. Basically, it should give users a clear idea of what they can find in the course.
Meanwhile, the excerpt will be a short description that can quickly inform the audience about what you offer.
You can control how the course content is displayed to a user who visits the front page of your site. It can be either the full description or just the excerpt. You can choose the desired option from the drop-down.
Just like how you add categories for a WordPress post, you can assign a course to a particular category. You can also create a new category, if none of the existing categories fit.
Setting course prerequisites and featured image
If you want to set pre-requisites for your course, you can select an appropriate one. Only those users who complete the pre-requisite will be able to take up this particular course.
And, you can also choose an image to display as the featured image for the course. Also, you can set the course as featured, so that it will be displayed if someone applies the filter ‘Featured’ on the courses page.
Creating a Lesson
Just like you created Courses, you can create Lessons as well. For this, go to Lessons > Add New. This will create a new lesson. You can add a title, content and excerpt. Users will be able to view the excerpt on the single course page under the specific lesson title.
Lesson length and difficulty
Sensei also provides an option to enter additional information to each lesson. This way, you can add the length of the lesson (in minutes), as well as the difficulty level. The difficulty levels are available in a drop-down with options such as Easy, Standard and Hard. It also provides a field to enter an embed code for video. This is helpful if you want to add a video relevant to the lesson. However, you should keep in mind that you cannot protect video content with Sensei. If you want to make the video available only for paid customers, you may have to find another solution.
Linking a Lesson to a Course
Now, after you create a lesson, you need to link it to a course. You might have already created a course before starting with the lesson. If in case, you have not created a course, you can click the +Add New Course to create a new course. All the available courses will be displayed in the drop-down that helps you link a lesson to a course.
Setting a prerequisite
Similar to the case of courses, you can set a prerequisite for each lesson as well. You can do this from the ‘Lesson Prerequisite’ section. Once you have set a prerequisite, learners who have not completed that would see a message directing them to finish it first.
Primarily the hierarchy of Sensei is Courses > Lessons. However, you can add an additional level between the two in the form of Modules. Each course may have any number of modules inside it and each lesson inside a course can be assigned only to a specific module. Basically, modules are used to group lessons together. For example, you have a course helping users how to play an instrument. It can have three modules – Beginner, Intermediate and Expert. You can include the lessons of the course in an appropriate module according to the nature of the lesson.
You can create a module by navigating to Courses > Modules > Add New Module. Here you can choose the routine options like name, description, etc. In addition, you will see an option to specify course, which can use the particular module. You can do this from the Course edit page as well.
Assigning a lesson to a module
For this, you have to open the edit page of that particular lesson. You will find an option ‘Lesson Module’, with a drop-down of available modules. You can choose the one that is appropriate.
Sensei displays modules in a course by alphabetical order by default. If you want to rearrange the order it is displayed, simply go to Courses > Order Modules. Here you can drag and drop the modules to suit the order that is relevant to your course. For example, you might want to display modules as Beginner, Intermediate and Expert. By default, it would be beginner, expert, intermediate.
This is the fundamental setup of creating an online course with the help of Sensei. After this, you can create quizzes and question banks, which would help you assess the progress of each student. Also, you can use Sensei extensions for added features like completion certificate and content dripping. We will discuss further aspects of a Sensei eLearning course in another article.
Sensei is a great plugin that helps you setup an eLearning course on your site. It gives you a lot of flexibility and scope to handle courses of different kind. You can link your courses with WooCommerce to make it a paid option for learners. And you can use the several Sensei extensions to add additional features to your courses. The most important point to note about Sensei is that for WordPress users, its interface will be quite intuitive and pleasing. Share with us your unique experience using Sensei as a learning management solution.