Do you want to create and sell online courses but are unsure which learning management system (LMS) is best for you? Course creators often turn to Teachable because they want to use an external course platform, or LearnDash because they want a WordPress LMS plugin that lets them host courses on their own site.
In this article, we will compare Teachable, LearnDash, and Sensei LMS to help you decide which tool is best for running your courses online.
What is Teachable?
Teachable is a tool focused on building and selling courses in one place, and it’s an all-in-one platform that works best for those who don’t mind sacrificing customizability to gain simplicity. Teachable makes the process of creating an online course relatively straightforward because it takes care of course creation, promotion, sales, and payouts, all on its propriatary platform.
What is LearnDash?
LearnDash is an LMS WordPress plugin that is made to be added to your existing website. The plugin is focused on course creation and includes features for adding course materials, quizzes, progress tracking, video lessons, and similar teaching tools.
What is Sensei LMS?
Sensei LMS is a WordPress learning management system plugin that has all the features needed to create and sell courses online and with ease. One major reason why this WordPress LMS plugin is vastly different from LearnDash is that it integrates with the Gutenberg block editor, whereas LearnDash has its own interface. This means that Sensei will have a much more familiar interface if you’ve already used WordPress in the past. The tool also allows you to add all kinds of multimedia elements to your site and manage the student experience with automatic and manual grading, groups, and cohorts.
Teachable vs LearnDash vs Sensei LMS: Main Features
Let’s look at the different features offered by Teachable, LearnDash, and Sensei LMS to create and sell your online courses.
Teachable, as we mentioned, is an all-in-one platform and, as such, it offers a more feature-packed tool for both creating and selling courses. For example, some of the features that Teachable includes are:
- A drag-and-drop course builder for easy course creation.
- A sales page builder to entice visitors to buy.
- Integrations email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp, as well as Google Analytics, and Zapier.
- Support for comments, quizzes, and certifications for students to keep them engaged with your content.
- The option to use upsells and subscriptions to get more out of customers.
- Over 130 currencies are accepted via payment gateways like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Paypal.
- A suite of marketing tools for affiliate marketing and referrals so you can allow partners and students to promote your courses.
- A teacher hub to connect with other creators and learn how to improve, getting tips from real users.
One of LearnDash’s unique features compared to Teachable is the platform’s ability to create complex quizzes with multiple-choice and true or false questions. You can also set up timed assessments to really evaluate learned material. Other features include:
- The ability to submit any type of media as course content to drip-feed to your students.
- A selection of hundreds of WordPress themes to design the course according to your needs.
- The chance to assign homework to students and enter their grades in the LearnDash Gradebook.
- The use of certificates and badges to add gamification to the student experience, keeping customers engaged until they complete the course.
- Discussion forums to make sure students can answer each other’s questions, reducing the need for customer support.
- A set of automated notifications you can send via email to remind students to take specific actions in their course.
- An active community of users who share tips, add-ons, and tutorials to support other creators. You’ll never feel alone or stuck without resources.
Sensei LMS Features
Sensei offers an impressive collection of features that allow you to create highly-customizable online courses. The platform is very easy to use and supports countless integrations and theme options. Features worth mentioning include:
- Integration with the Gutenberg block editor, which will be familiar to anyone who has used WordPress in the past few years.
- You can customize the start date of your course, set access and expiration periods, and use content dripping to distribute your lessons in a way that makes sense for your students’ progress.
- Support for several types of media and a course progress bar that helps students know where they are in the course. Learning Mode can also keep students focused and works with any compatible theme to create a distraction-free environment.
- The ability to create branded certificates for students who complete your course.
- Several interactive elements are included within Sensei Blocks, such as interactive videos, flashcards, image hotspots, and more into your lessons and quizzes that can significantly increase engagement.
- Available downloadable media attachments so students can keep learning when they are off the platform.
- A blog post to course creator feature that enables site owners to quickly convert blog content into an online course, reducing the time it takes to create a course even more.
- Integrations between Sensei Pro, WooCommerce, and its extensions. This means you can sell your courses using WooCommerce Payments, which allows you to include payment methods like PayPal and Amazon Pay.
Teachable vs LearnDash vs Sensei LMS: Pricing
The three tools we’re reviewing have different pricing structures (and, of course, costs). So, let’s see how each of them works.
Teachable has different pricing tiers and its features scale accordingly. Looking at the plans below, it’s clear that Teachable is really expensive and out of reach for the average course creator. Both of the WordPress options we discuss in this article are vastly cheaper.
Basic plan, $39/month
You get charged a 5% transaction fee + a processing fee which varies depending on which payment method is used (for e.g. a US card has a fee of 2.9% + $0.30). You also get up to 2 admin users and unlimited students and courses. Teachable’s basic plan includes the basic features and integrations but not any customizable themes or a public API. You also won’t have access to affiliate marketing or advanced reporting on students and sales, including enrollment insights and more.
Pro plan, $119/ month
This plan offers a 0% transaction fee on sales, but the processing fees still apply. If you choose this option, you get up to 5 admin users and unlimited students and courses. Teachable’s Pro Plan includes all core features except advanced theme customization, so you’ll only use their templates for the design. You will, however, have access to all their sales and marketing tools.
Business plan, $299/ month
Teachable’s business plan has no transaction fees on sales, but processing fees apply nonetheless. You get up to 20 admin users and unlimited students and courses. The plan also includes all features, including a launch accelerator, live chat, live group coaching, and webinars.
LearnDash’s pricing doesn’t gatekeep features but rather allows for a higher number of site licenses. You can have one, ten, or unlimited websites. Upon purchase of any of these, users have a 15-day money-back guarantee. The costs are as follows:
- 1 site, $199/year
- 10 sites, $399/year
- Unlimited sites, $799/year
For most course creators, Sensei Pro will be enough to satisfy all the needs of their business. This plan gives you access to all of Sensei’s premium features, such as content dripping and WooCommerce integration. However, if you need Sensei on more than one site, you can also look into Sensei Agency – which has the same feature set as Sensei Pro but can be used on up to 20 websites.
Sensei Pro, $179/year for 1 site
While there are no transaction fees, you need to pay a credit card processing fee, just like with Teachable and LearnDash. This plan includes WooCommerce integration, drip content scheduling, course access periods, quiz timer & ordering question type, videos and blocks in lessons, and block visibility. Sensei Pro world with any WordPress theme, and the plan includes one year of updates & support (of course, you get more if you renew your license).
Sensei Agency, $349/year for up to 20 websites
The Sensei Agency plan includes all the features in the Pro plan plus blocks and Pro on up to 20 sites, and a year of updates & support.
Teachable vs LearnDash vs Sensei LMS: Pros and Cons
The last thing we will compare when looking at Teachable, LearnDash, and Sensei LMS are the pros and cons of each platform.
Teachable Pros and Cons
- Teachable makes things easy to handle because it offers a comprehensive environment from which you can just upload your content. The company then drip-feeds it to students after they sign up. You also require no specific marketing or sales skills.
- You don’t need to build your own website if you’re using Teachable. They will host your content on their online course platform.
- There are no learning assessments beyond quizzes.
- You don’t own the content you create yourself. This means that if you decide to cancel, the course basically disappears, so you’re either stuck with the company or you will have to start over.
- The platform offers no grade books or report cards to keep instructors and students informed about student progress.
- Despite being the beginner-friendly option, you will have to upgrade to the most expensive price tier if you want to get the full benefit of Teachable’s features. This is, unfortunately, more than the average beginner will be able to pay for.
LearnDash Pros and Cons
- LarnDash provides advanced theme customization and offers compatibility with many responsive themes and page builders.
- What the platform does not have in features, they make up for with integrations. For example, you can use Course Grid, Easy Digital Download, bbPress, and more to allow more extensive functionalities.
- You own your site.
- LearnDash is very user-friendly.
- The platform has limited functionality, which means you will need a lot of third-party plugins if you want to do certain things within your course. Having many plugins, in turn, increases your chances of something going wrong and throwing off the whole ecosystem.
- You’ll need your LearnDash license to use your content. If you cancel without migrating it, you’ll likely lose it all.
- LernDash doesn’t offer separate payment membership levels. You will also need extra plugins if you want to allow users more advanced checkout options with Stripe or other platforms.
Sensei LMS Pros and Cons
Sensei LMS Pros
- Sensei has many of the best features we have seen in Teachable and LearnDash (like easy course creation, file downloads, and student engagement tools), but you don’t need any expensive external plugins to access them.
- The platform lets you add multimedia to your site in several unique ways. By using Sensei Blocks, you can add additional content to images and interactive elements to videos. You can also use Sensei Blocks anywhere on your site to give potential customers a taste of their future course experience before they sign up.
- Sensei offers the most familiar interface for WordPress users because it works with Gutenberg. Creating a lesson is just like creating a regular blog post.
Sensei LMS Cons
- Sensei is made for business owners, entrepreneurs, and other types of course creators who aren’t interested in teaching via video call but rather by creating pre-recorded content. As such, Sensei doesn’t offer a live learning environment.
Teachable vs LearnDash vs Sensei LMS: Our Winner
If you’re planning on launching an online course to share your knowledge or promote your business, it’s essential to choose the right LMS. The first thing you need to decide is if you want to host courses on your own WordPress site or use an external platform.
As we’ve seen in this article, using an external hosting platform like Teachable is simpler for getting started, but it offers much less customization and is much, much more expensive in the long term than using WordPress.
Setting up a WordPress site takes a little more time but the effort is worth it. Not only can you design a site that meets your exact brand design, but you will also own all your content and have full control over your online course’s pricing.
If you do want to use WordPress, then LearnDash is not the only option. In fact, in this article we’ve seen that Sensei LMS is a worthy alternative – it will give WordPress users a more familiar experience and has plenty of features to create great courses without needing to rely on too many add-ons.