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Sensei vs. LearnDash: An overview of two major WP LMS players

Not so long ago Learning Management Systems (LMS) used to be utilized only by large companies. The reason was their complexity and cost of creating such a system. On average it took a couple of months and several people with technical skills to implement such a system. And even after, it usually required at least one person to keep the system up and running. So basically, owning an LMS wasn’t affordable for medium and small sized companies. Than in 2003. WordPress emerged. At first it was a go-to tool for bloggers. Those bloggers also wanted to create and sell e-courses to their readers. Soon they realized that WordPress has great potential to be a base for core functionalities of LMS.

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Fast forward to 2016. WordPress took over the internet like a storm. Nowadays you can implement LMS and its functionalities into your system as easy as downloading plugins and modules, inserting them into the right place and activating them.

With this ‘quick launch’ setup you only get a shell of a system. True uniqueness and exception from other systems comes from your decision what to customize and how to interact with the system.

The list of reasons for implementing LMS in small and medium business

  1. Save time and money by automating your training
  2. Facilitate e-learning with an online learning platform
  3. Reduce learning and training costs with an LMS
  4. Enable centralized storage of data and learning materials
  5. Evaluation Capabilities
  6. Easy creation, customization and update of current and new learning materials
  7. Personalized and Interactive learning
  8. Access from anywhere and anytime
  9. Reduced dependency
  10. Easy and simple reporting



Sensei is LMS launched by WooThemes in January 2013 as their LMS solution for WordPress. It was created by developers who were aiming to capture core features of a learning management plugin, while not bloating it with features which can be solved with other existing WP plugins.

When installing Sensei you only get core functionalities of the plugin, which can be expanded with existing plugins for additional customization. It’s main advantage is that you can easily customize it without interfering with other functionalities of plugin.

Easy customization comes from his API (Application Programming Interface) which is made very thoroughly and is well documented. With this API you can adjust LMS to your needs with ease. You can see for yourself the extent and possibilities of Sensei API here.

Since WooThemes core business is making custom themes and WooCommerce platform, you can also choose a look of your plugin with one of their fully developed themes. Also, since WooCommerce (currently most popular eCommerce platform on the web) is part of WooThemes company it is automatically integrated with your LMS plugin, ensuring easy and effortless selling of your content.

Woothemes has excellent documentation for all of its products including Sensei which will help you when starting to work or when you encounter a problem.

If you can’t find your answer in the documentation, WooThemes takes seriously their support so you have multiple options in seeking your answer. You can contact them via ticketing system or search their forum. Also, they have an active community which will try to help you as best as they can.

If you want a good foundation for your custom system, which you can fully expand with desired add-ons, then sensei is the perfect solution for you.



LearnDash is an LMS plugin for WordPress published on January 28th, 2013., made by developer team lead by Justin and Kloé Ferriman. It was designed to be a whole package LMS for WordPress with no need for a lot of customizing.

LearnDash focuses more on the wealth and possibilities of content. It is much more structurally complex than Sensei which makes it harder to make direct changes to its functionality. Because of that it contains much more options related to editing and managing content. In case you need some functionality that isn’t included in LearnDash from the start, you can search for them in the library which, truth be told, isn’t as rich as Sensei‘s.

For accessing documentation and support you have to be premium (paying) user of the plugin. In  internal pages LearnDash has an extensive documentation related to all aspects of the plugin.

As far as the support goes, it is done through the forum. Your questions are answered very quickly if  posted during support team working time (7am – 4pm EST). Otherwise, they will contact you the next working day. Justin himself is in charge of the forum. He maintains and actively contributes to posts there.

LearnDash is a good solution if you want somewhat already finished system which has no need (and freedom) for a lot of customization through extensions or Custom API.

Html text editorYESYES
Responsive by defaultYESYES
Search by groupsNOYES
Ban of course completionYESYES
Three layer architecture Courses,
Featured imageYESYES
Time limitYESYES
Expiration by dateYESYES
Expiration by x days passedNOYES
Multiple choiceYESYES
Single choiceYESYES
Multi lineYESYES
Fill the gapYESYES
File UploadYESYES
Randomize QuestionsYESYES
Randomize AnswersYESYES
Manual GradingYESNO
Automatic GradingYESYES
Expiration dateYESNO
Multiple instructors per quizzYESYES
Percentage for passing quizzYESYES
Percentage for certificateNOYES
Number of repeatsNOYES
Avatar (Gravatar)YESYES
Email notification of applying to courseYESYES
Customizable messages on eventYES (through Follow up module)NO
Group ManagerYESYES
Reccuring NOYES

Both Sensei and LearnDash are top notch systems, but they differ from each other in their baseline. Sensei is LMS made from a developers viewpoint. They give you a system where you only get core functionalities. It’s meant to be further customized through programming and different extensions.

LearnDash on the other hand is made from teachers and instructors viewpoint. It is not designed for profound customization, but rather as a fully developed system for learning. It requires little customization through extensions and programming.

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