Screengrab from WordCamp US site announcing the dates as December 4-6, 2015On December 4, 2015, I was honored to speak at the Inaugural WordCamp US in Philadelphia, PA.

By request, I have added this presentation. Below, you will find the video presentation, highlights of the topics covered, and a PDF file of the actual slidedeck.

Presentation Highlights

In the presentation, I covered the business case for why you should consider creating online training courses, tips for creating content and an overview of using WordPress plugins to build and deliver online courses.

Why build an Online Course?

Online courses are a great way to provide premium content to your audience. They allow you to increase online engagement with customers and potential customers, and they are a perfect tribe building tool. If you’re in business, online, you are looking for customers – that tribe of fans that loves, buys, and shares what you have to offer. Teaching through online courses allows you to increase engagement with visitors and build that fanbase.

Tips for Building Great Content

Building a successful online training course requires the creation of great, user-focused, content. Make sure that your course delivery includes a variety of touch points to the student including video or audio, text, quizzes or surveys, and most important, assignments that have them complete the tasks they are supposed to be learning. You learn what you do.

Avoid common pitfalls in online training, particularly assuming too much knowledge from your students. For experts in a field or topic area, it’s easy to forget that beginners don’t know the basics. Cover the basic information well and in small, bite-sized pieces to help insure student understanding.

For more content creation tips, visit 5 Tips for Creating Course Content

Deciding on Site Structure

The presentation specifically covered building online courses using a self-hosted WordPress installation, so all platform considerations were made according to this specification.

When delivering online courses in your WordPress installation, the students become members (users) of that website. If your website is the main marketing for your business, you may want to keep this installation separate. In that case, you can create a subdomain with a separate WordPress installation for delivering and managing online courses. For example, is the marketing and customer facing website for How to Build an Online Course and is a subdomain where students learn to build online courses.

The benefits of creating a subdomain include separation of user accounts into a specific learning area and the ability to use different themes and plugins than those on the main marketing site. The major drawback is the requirement of maintaining a separate WordPress installation including the need for backups, security, and site updates.

WordPress Learning Management System (LMS) Plugins

In the presentation, I gave a high level overview of three WordPress Learning Management System plugins. LearnDash, Sensei, and WP Courseware all allow you to create and deliver courses directly from a WordPress installation. It is important to determine your requirements for courses and instructors before selecting a plugin. All three have cool features and limitations.

Cool Features

  • WP Courseware allows you to order your modules, units, and quizzes with an easy drag and drop interface.
  • LearnDash can sell, protect, and run courses within the single plugin. It has the least amount of dependencies on outside plugins.
  • Sensei provides private messages from student to teacher opening the door for increased engagement.


  • WP Courseware and Sensei are dependent on other plugins like WooCommerce to manage sales.
  • LearnDash requires more planning for course layout because it’s harder to reorder lessons.

More detailed overviews will be provided on each of these plugins very soon.

Presentation in PDF

Download (PDF, 555KB)

Coming Soon at How to Build an Online Course

More On 3rd Party Fully Hosted Solutions

Overview of the following WordPress Learning Management System Plugins:

  • LearnDash
  • Sensei
  • WP Courseware
  • Zippy Courses

For more information and highlights on WordCamp US visit my general blog where Dagmar Gatell and I discussed it on a Blab with show notes for further documentation.

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