How To Create a Student Portal in WordPress (Step-by-Step)

Updated on October 24, 2022

Do you need a way to communicate securely with your students? Adding a student portal or education portal to your school website is a great way of keeping in touch with your students. If you run an academic institution and need a school management system, or if you simply offer a few online courses, you can use a student portal to share information, like grades, upcoming social events, or homework assignments. 

If you offer online courses or operate a learning management system for your company or clients, you can confidentially share results and progress reports with team leaders or management. Your WordPress student portal can even enable payments for your students. 

A simple plugin can create an education portal for the online courses on your WordPress site while maintaining strict privacy and confidentiality pertaining to student data. 

Introducing Sensei LMS

Sensei LMS is a plugin that enables you to create courses and lessons on your WordPress site. It has native integration with WordPress and as such it’s fully compatible with virtually all WordPress themes making it a perfect fit for every site. With Sensei, you build your courses using the familiar Gutenberg block editor, unlike other LMS plugins that have their own interface which you need to get used to. 

The Sensei LMS Homepage

For most people, the best plan to create courses with is Sensei Pro, which gives you access to all of Sensei’s premium features and lets you build unlimited courses on your site. This means you get a powerful course-building platform in a single WordPress plugin, with features such as content dripping, the ability to set up course access periods, and engaging content elements called Sensei Blocks. You can also integrate Sensei Pro with WooCommerce and this is what makes it possible for you to sell your courses and set up a student portal. 

How to set up a student portal in WordPress with Sensei LMS

Let’s look at how you can create your WordPress student portal with Sensei Pro in a few easy steps! 

1. Install Sensei Pro

Head to Sensei’s pricing page to purchase Sensei Pro. You’ll receive a download of the plugin which you can install and activate in the WordPress dashboard (WP Admin > Plugins). 

Sensei LMS plugin installation screen in WordPress

You will be prompted to add your license key once you have purchased a license. Licenses are valid for an entire year, and you can renew or cancel your license at any time. 

Simply copy the license key and press Activate. Congratulations, you are on your way to creating your education portal! 

Image of the Activation Screen for Sensei Pro

2. Set up WooCommerce

Sensei Pro has native integration with WooCommerce and all of its extensions. You can create courses without WooCommerce, but because you won’t have added eCommerce functionality to your site you will only be able to offer them for free.

By installing WooCommerce Payments, you can list your courses as WooCommerce products and let students pay for them using a wide range of payment methods. Here’s an example of a course sold as a simple product that gets added to a cart:

Example of a course created using Sensei Pro.

Another extension that you might find useful is WooCommerce Memberships, which allows you to sell courses as a membership product and set different tiers around your courses. For example, you can set a Gold Membership to give paying members access to exclusive lessons. 

Example of memberships sold and created using Sensei Pro.

3. Create your student portal

Sensei and WooCommerce will automatically create a student portal for you where students can sign up and sign in in the future. When a student purchases a course, they’ll be asked to sign in or create an account for the first time. When they log into ‘My Account’, they’ll find a ‘Courses’ tab which effectively functions as their student portal.

A student dashboard created using Sensei Pro/WooCommerce

After you set up WooCommerce Memberships, you should then add Sensei pages to your site’s navigation to customize your e-learning site. Available pages include:

  • Courses – a general overview of the courses you offer
  • Lessons – a general overview of the lessons you offer
  • My Courses – users who are logged in will be able to access their courses
  • My Profile – the profile page for logged-in students (you need to have public learner profiles enabled in Sensei>Settings)
  • My Messages – students can access their messages when logged in
  • Login/Logout – a login page for students to access their courses.

How to customize your WordPress student portal

Once you set up your student portal, it’s time to think about how you can create a good experience in the WordPress student portal. Let’s cover a few key ways you may want to do this:

Course Progress

Course Progress will display the learner’s progress in the online courses they’ve taken. It’s only visible to learners who are already enrolled. 

The Course Progress block in Sensei Pro

Course Categories

You can also help learners discover courses based on their interests by assigning courses to categories, by either selecting an existing category or by clicking the Add New Course Category Link to create a new one. You can manage your course categories by going to Courses > Course Categories.

Course categories in Sensei Pro

Course Prerequisite

If you would like for learners to complete one course before taking another one, you can set Course Prerequisites. Students won’t be able to start a new course without completing a prerequisite. If they attempt to complete a course with completing the prerequisite, they will see a notice similar to this one: 

A prerequisite course notification from Sensei Pro

Adding lessons 

You can add lessons to courses at any time by going to Lessons > Add New. 

Adding a lesson using Sensei Pro.

Once you’ve created a lesson, you can adjust the lesson properties, which display the length of time each lesson will take to complete, as well as the difficulty level (Easy, Standard, Hard). 

You can also use the Lesson Action blocks to enable a series of actions a learner can perform related to the lesson, including marking the lesson as complete, resetting a lesson, or moving to the next lesson. 

If you haven’t used Sensei blocks on the lesson page, the lesson will use a legacy PHP template to provide the functionality to your site visitors, but PHP templates are hard to customize, so it’s recommended that you use Sensei blocks instead. 

Once you’ve created a lesson, you can attach it to a course in the Course panel. 

Adding a lesson to a course. 

Accessing your WordPress student portal as an admin

There are several things you can do as an admin once you’ve created your student portal, such as managing students, setting up groups, grading questions, and sending messages. This way you can maintain a good experience for your students and ensure they get the feedback they need to progress in your course. 

Managing students 

You can add new students, reset their progress or manage a number of settings using the Learner Management tab. Go to Sensei > Learner Management to see the list of courses and search by either category or name. From here, you can manage students by Course or Lesson. 

Manage learners button in Sensei Pro

To manage learners, locate the course and click the Manage Learners button. A list of all students enrolled in the course will be displayed. You can also filter to view Enrolled or Unenrolled Learners. 

Enrolled learners in the Manage Learners tab of Sensei Pro

If you would like to remove a learner from a course, hover over their name until the Remove Enrollment link appears. If you click this, the learner will be unenrolled, and their access to the course will be revoked. You can enroll or re-enroll a learner that appears in the Learner Management tab by hovering over their name and clicking the Enroll link. You can also reset their progress by hovering over their name and clicking the Reset Progress link to reset their course start date and revert the status of the course to In Progress. 

Managing groups 

You can also organize students into groups with ease. Simply visit the Sensei LMS menu in your dashboard and click “Groups.”

Groups in the dropdown menu of Sensei LMS

Click “New Group.”

Adding a new group to Sensei LMS

Click the “Group Name” field and give your group a name, then click Create Group. 

Adding a group name

You can add students by clicking on Group Students > Add Students.

Adding students to a course using Sensei LMS

Students must already have logins to your website to be added. Once you’ve found the student(s), you’d like to add, just click the Add to Group button. 

Adding students to groups. 

Grading questions

You can use your Sensei Pro account to manually grade lessons by going to Sensei LMS > Grading. The Grading page will display all of the ungraded quizzes submitted for manual grading. 

The grading screen in Sensei LMS

You can filter the Grading table to show quizzes for specific lessons by selecting a course and lesson from the drop-downs. You can also change your view to only display quizzes that are either ungraded, graded, or in progress or view quizzes from a specific learner. 

Quiz progress in the Grading Screen of Sensei LMS

Locate the quiz in the table and click the Grade quiz button to grade your quizzes. If the quiz has already been graded, the button will be named Review Grade.  

Example of a quiz being graded in Sensei LMS

Questions that were auto-graded will appear as marked, but you can mark any remaining questions manually by clicking the checkmark or X icons. You can also provide custom feedback to learners about their answers (e.g., “Please review Chapter II”) or assign a specific grade to an answer. 

When learners access their graded quiz, they’ll be able to see the questions they got right, their grades for each question, and the total grade for the quiz. They will also have the ability to review feedback or reply to feedback. 

A graded quiz marked using Sensei LMS. 

Sending messages

Registered users will be able to send private messages to teachers (unless this functionality was disabled by the admin). Users can send messages whether they are enrolled in a course or not, which gives prospective students the ability to ask questions about the course. Messages are private and can only be viewed by the teacher, the sender, and the administrators of the site. 

Students can send a private message to the course teacher by clicking the Contact Teacher button on the course, lesson, or quiz page on the front end of the site. It will only be displayed when they are logged in. 

Contact Teacher button in Sensei LMS

If notifications have been enabled (Sensei LMS > Settings > Email Notifications), an email will be sent to the teacher to let them know a message has been sent. Teachers can reply to the message by visiting the My Courses page and clicking on My Messages: 

My Messages in Sensei LMS

You can disable private messages between students and teachers by checking this box in the Courses dashboard: 

Disable private messages in Sensei

Set up your student portal with Sensei Pro

A simple WordPress student portal can provide an important bridge between students, admins, and teachers. You can use your student portal to share vital information, create groups, send and receive messages, and display more information about students’ progress and courses. 

Sensei Pro makes this easy through its seamless integration with WordPress and WooCommerce. Anyone who purchases a course can access their student portal by heading to their “My Account” tab. As a course creator, you have plenty of ways to improve the student portal. You can let learners see their progress, customize the way questions are graded, send private messages to your students, create groups of students, and so on.

Ready to create the ultimate student experience? Check out Sensei Pro today and try it with a 14-day refund guarantee. 

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