LearnDash vs. Teachable: An LMS Comparison
When it comes to selecting membership and LMS software, the marketplace can be overwhelming. It's hard to find a software solution that is flexible enough to work with your business, while also providing exceptional functionality.
In this in-depth comparison of LearnDash and Teachable, we walk through key software features and decision criteria, so you can select the best software for your unique needs.
We've tested so many online course solutions for our business over the years.
When we couldn't find a solution that would do what we needed,
we dusted off our Software Engineering chops and developed AccessAlly.
And to this day, we continue to test and review the options on the market so we can share that knowledge with others.
How do Teachable and LearnDash differ?
Teachable and LearnDash both offer the ability to build online courses, but this is where the similarities end, and where the differences begin.
ALL-IN-ONE VS. DEDICATED WORDPRESS LMS
Teachable and LearnDash have different software philosophies. LearnDash’s focus is purely on online course creation, whereas Teachable provides an all-in-one platform for building and selling your online courses.
Teachable is a one-stop shop for hosting your online courses: take payments, deliver courses, or send targeted emails for each individual based on enrollment, code redemption, and a few other filters. If you’re just getting started online, this is a good solution to keep costs down. As you grow, I recommend looking into alternatives that allow you full control over your content and offer more flexibility.
LearnDash is a WordPress LMS plugin and focuses on the Learning Management System functionality. This could be advantageous or disadvantageous for you depending on your setup.
To expand on its core functionality so you can deliver a positive user experience from end to end, you’ll likely need to install additional plugins and add-ons. Fortunately, LearnDash has a robust marketplace of integrations and add-ons to make this possible.
That means you may need to purchase and integrate additional plugins to handle:
- payments and payment administration
- membership levels to run cohesive membership sites
- integration with your CRM for marketing automations
With Teachable, you sign up for one tool that seamlessly handles everything from payments, course creation, LMS functionality and member management.
INTEGRATION WITH YOUR MARKETING AUTOMATION PLATFORM
With Teachable, in order to integrate your chosen email service provider you must use a 3rd party tool, Zapier. You can also set up webhooks to send notifications between your two systems, though Zapier or custom APIs.
With Teachable’s built-in email automation functionality, you do have the ability to send individual communications from within the platform based on users’ actions.
With LearnDash, you’ll also need a 3rd party tool such as Zapier or WPFusion to connect your online courses built on your WordPress site to pass information back to your CRM. In both cases, native integrations to email service providers like ActiveCampaign or ConvertKit don’t come built-in.
Say goodbye to duct-taped solutions and take full control of your membership and online course setup with AccessAlly’s deep 2-way street integration. You get everything you need and no third-party plugins are necessary. It’s built to sell, teach, and engage.
ONBOARDING & CUSTOMER SUPPORT
It’s imperative for SaaS and tech companies to have a strong customer support system in place to ensure the success of their users with their product.
In addition to their extensive KnowledgeBase, Teachable’s customer support team is available via email for all customers. Live chat is also available Monday-Friday 10am - 5pm EST for professional and business accounts. All paying customers also have access to TeachableU - their online course library.
Upon signup, you will also receive access to an onboarding webinar to quickstart your setup.
In comparison, LearnDash is available via email Monday-Friday from 7am-4pm EST.
Don’t let this deter you though. We have found that email support is very effective, especially when you have a more complex question to troubleshoot. It allows the support team time to sort through the issue and confidently provide you with a resolution.
What matters most to LMS users in 2020?
Last year online businesses were caught off guard by compliance with GDPR and new regulations.
In 2020 what matters most to online course creators is their ability to get online quickly and to meet people where they’re at while they’re sheltering in place.
Even more importantly, business owners and online teachers are looking for more ways to keep their members engaged through things like gamification and interactive communities.
Although online learning through mobile apps is still a hot topic, the focus in 2020 is on ease of use and engagement for new users.
Teachable’s downfall for brand-conscious entrepreneurs is their limited theme customization on their basic plan, although it has come a long way since its early days and is evolving to keep up with the rise in popularity of WordPress page builders for their Professional and Business plans. One thing to keep in mind, is the fact that you cannot remove the Teachable branding if you sign up for the lowest pricing tier.
It’s a great tool for beginners who aren’t very specific about the look and feel of their sites, but not ideal for those who want full design flexibility.
With Teachable, you have more customization options on the business and professional plans, and you can also achieve advanced customization if you want to dig into the Liquid programming language to edit templates by hand.
On the other hand, LearnDash is an LMS plugin for WordPress, so it integrates with any WordPress theme or builder plugin. Their built-in course layouts and focus mode are compatible with most page builders.
The built-in course builder has a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy to add your content and re-use lessons or topics from existing courses. However, when it comes to the look and feel of your course pages, it’s lacking in flexibility. Aside from specifying a few colors, you won’t have full customization over the course layout and design.
If you’re looking for a course builder that allows full design flexibility, take a look at our showcase page to see what’s possible when you choose AccessAlly instead.
LEARNING REINFORCEMENTS: QUIZZES, PROGRESS-TRACKING, HOMEWORK, & CERTIFICATES
This is where LearnDash takes the cake in comparison to Teachable.
LearnDash allows you to add a quiz or assessment at any level throughout a course, whether it’s at the end of a course, a specific lesson, or topic. With 8 question types to choose from, timed assessments, and the ability to submit any type of media as an input field, your options are endless.
You can also require homework submissions after lessons or topics, and issue report cards and track homework and assessments with gradebooks.
LearnDash has even taken their progress-tracking to a new level in their most recent release, tracking course progress across all levels of the course, baked right into the layout.
You can also use LearnDash’s built-in certificates to reward your members as soon as they complete a course. This is a great way to motivate students to complete the material.
While Teachable does allow you to create assessments to reinforce the material and test student retention, your options for quiz and question types aren’t as robust. Their questions are limited to multiple choice and true/false responses.
Like LearnDash, with Teachable you can use built-in certificates to celebrate your students’ success upon course completion. You can also assign and review homework submissions for your students with Teachable.
EXTENSIBILITY, AND OWNERSHIP
With Teachable, you’re hosting your website and courses on their closed platform, with no easy way to take your content with you when you cancel or decide to move on. So, if they decide to raise their prices, or change their business model, it can feel like you’re stuck and have to adapt to their changes.
The Teachable system is closed, so you can’t easily extend its functionality by installing add-ons and additional plugins. If you wanted to add an integrated forum, gamification, or other features that could improve your courses, you’re limited to Teachable’s core functionality.
LearnDash is quite the opposite in terms of extensibility. They do provide integrations to extend on its core functionality and it’s not unheard of for LearnDash users to have 6 or more different plugins to make sure everything works together to create a functional learning experience. Be conscious about your tech stack though, because the more plugins you add, the more risk you assume for things to go wrong.
Another positive in our book is that you’re not building your site on rented land with LearnDash because it is a WordPress plugin.
However, when it comes to creating courses, LearnDash uses a proprietary Custom Post Type that allows you to designate modules and lessons. If you cancel your LearnDash license, your content isn't usable anymore.
Fortunately, some plugins, like AccessAlly, can help you retrieve your content and migrate it if you decide to move away from this plugin.
LearnDash is a great plugin if you sell a few courses and don’t require a lot of additional functionality.
With AccessAlly, you have even more control. It’s an open source LMS WordPress plugin.
What does that mean for you? Anyone can see and read the code, and it’s easy to back-up and export your content, so if you ever decide to migrate away from us, you won’t lose all of your work.
Bulk Course Enrollment
If you want to offer "bulk licenses" or the ability to have umbrella parent/child accounts, where a group leader can assign sub-accounts, say for a corporate training team or family accounts.
Teachable does not offer the ability to “license courses” to groups of people, which is also called Umbrella or Team accounts.
However, you can sell courses in bulk by creating an offer for the number of people the buyer is purchasing for and provide each individual with an individual coupon to get access to the course.
Alternatively, LearnDash will allow you to sell courses in bulk or to teams, but an additional plugin that is developed by another company is required.
AccessAlly gives you the power to sell a package of licenses to your courses and content. This becomes a powerful selling tool for corporate training, schools, families, and other groups.
Design a member management dashboard so team leaders can add team members, see their progress, purchase more licenses, use custom operations to kick off automations, and more.
E-Commerce & Affiliate Functionality
Teachable has built-in Stripe and PayPal integration with single use and universal coupon codes. You can also create and offer upsells on the thank you page at the time of checkout.
Teachable also offers integrated affiliate marketing functionality in all of their plans. Affiliates have access to an affiliate dashboard to review their referral reports and retrieve their unique links.
LearnDash has limited built-in e-commerce functionality, however, if you have a simple setup and only offer one-time payments for courses, no additional plugins are needed and it natively integrates with PayPal, Stripe and 2checkout.
If you’re using LearnDash and selling subscriptions or offering payment plans, an add-on or additional plugin is needed to achieve this functionality. The same holds true for affiliate features.
This is where the costs and complexity start to add up for LearnDash.
The biggest difference financially is that Teachable takes a 5% transaction fee on their lowest tier, while LearnDash does not.
Your workflow on LearnDash vs. Teachable:
- Install the plugin on your WordPress membership site
- Install a payment plugin or purchase an additional shopping cart tool (and possibly an additional affiliate plugin)
- Install a membership plugin, and configure it
- Install or set-up CRM integration plugin, team licensing add-ons, member directory add-ons, etc.
- Dig into your site's CSS and hack the LearnDash design to match your branding
- Use the LearnDash course builder to design your course structure
- Set up your quizzes, link them to lessons
- Name your Teachable school
- Create your first course structure
- Directly upload your videos, text, and course information to Teachable
- Edit the very basic look and feel (change colors and fonts)
- Figure out how to use your own domain (to brand your school)
- Set up payments and the terms of purchase
- Set up Zapier zaps to integrate with the other systems you'll need to achieve the functionality
- Or, wait for Teachable to release the features you want to add to your courses
See how Teachable and LearnDash Features Compare
We’re a digital marketing software company built by marketers and software engineers. With our particular background and expertise, we’ve designed our membership management and LMS plugin AccessAlly, to give you everything you need in an easy to use, powerful package. Here you’ll see where LearnDash and Teachable fall short or shine in comparison:
|Protected course content|
|Built-in Recurring Stripe and PayPal payments|
|Course builder for modules, lessons, and topics|
|Automatically creates tags, pages, and menus||No tags|
|Deep 2-Way Integration with Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and Drip|
|Multiple currencies, automated expiring coupons, and order bumps|
|Cart abandonment automation|
|Progress tracking, and progress-based unlocking content|
|Multiple types of quizzes, and auto generated certificates of completion|
|Course Licensing with Teams or Umbrella Accounts||With add-ons|
|Searchable member directories and editable custom fields through profiles|
|Gamification where members can earn points, and activity-based automation, login tracking|
|Media player, video bookmarks, tagging automation on quizzes|
|Cross-selling dashboards, with 1-click upsells|
|Built-in affiliate tracking with multiple tiers, links, and reporting|
The True Cost of Teachable vs LearnDash
These pricing models will give you an idea of what you can expect, when comparing the cost of Teachable vs. LearnDash but it's not the whole picture.
If Teachable has all of the functionality that you need, and you don’t mind all of your content being tied to the platform than Teachable is the more economical option.
On the other hand, with LearnDash, which only handles your Learning Management System (LMS), you'll also need to add a payment processor, order forms, membership plugin, website hosting, video hosting, and other add-ons - like groups for forums.
Keep this in mind as you’re comparing pricing so you’re being mindful of your true investment.
THE REAL QUESTION: SHOULD I USE TEACHABLE OR LEARNDASH?
Teachable might be right for you if…
- You need a bare-bones course website, with no plans for added functionality down the line
- You want to have your site up and running quickly, so you can test your ideas without worrying about design
- You don’t use a CRM like Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, or Drip to do your email marketing automation
- You don’t mind giving up full control to have your courses hosted for you on a 3rd party platform that you can't easily export or leave
LearnDash might be right for you if…
- You are open to a larger tech stack, and using a lot of different plugins to achieve your goals
- You absolutely need SCORM or Tin-Can LMS integration
- You're not picky about the look-and-feel of your course
- You don't need deep CRM integration to create more personalized customer experiences, but you do need a lot of quizzing options
NOT THE SOLUTION YOU REALLY NEED?
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Hi, I'm Kimberly
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