Choosing between a Wordpress-based learning platform and aNewSpring?
We hear it more and more often: what are the differences between Wordpress and aNewSpring, and which one should I choose? Both Wordpress and aNewSpring can be used to build online training and courses. What is the most suitable system depends on your wishes, requirements, and personal preferences.
How do you make a choice?
Each company has a different goal in mind with regards to a Learning Management System (LMS). It is precisely for that reason that there is no ready-made answer. I advise people to first list all their requirements, before choosing a platform.
A good preparation is important, because it will form the basis for your entire e-learning program. Keep the future in mind as well. If you now serve 50 participants per year, but you expect to launch a very successful training program with which you may serve 10,000 participants in the future, then this may require other functionalities (for example, the use of multiple online supervisors, setting up learning groups, etc.).
The difference between an ‘open source’ and a ‘closed source’ learning platform
There are LMS’s based on Wordpress, such as Learndash and Sensei. There are also stand-alone LMS’s and learning platforms such as aNewSpring, but also Moodle and Canvas. Here, a distinction can be made between ‘open source’ and ‘closed source’ learning platforms. What does that mean exactly?
What is an ‘Open Source’ learning platform (such Wordpress with an LMS plug-in)?
Open Source means that the basic software and underlying code can be freely downloaded and used. Wordpress application, but also Moodle, are examples of open source. You can make adjustments yourself and you are completely free to control this yourself. However, you do need quite a lot of technical knowledge to build a suitable learning system by yourself. There are countless plug-ins, which provide many options. Wordpress provides support in the form of documentation and a forum. This means that there is a lot of information available, but you do have to look for it yourself. If you are looking for more help, then there are implementation partners who can help you.
What is a ‘Closed Source’ learning platform?
When using a closed source learning platform, you do not use open source code or open software, but you purchase a license for use. The advantage is that the manufacturer ensures that you can use the software without worry, and that they offer a good service and make regular updates with new features available. This is the case with aNewSpring, for example.
If you have content available or you want to develop content, and you are looking for a software to get started right away, then a learning platform based on closed source may be suitable. The learning platform of aNewSpring is a SaaS-solution (‘software as a service’), where the software is offered as an online service. It contains many standard options and you can switch them on or off as a user.
Starting with an LMS in Wordpress
There are a huge number of options when you start working with a Wordpress-based learning platform. However, you have to assemble, purchase, and arrange everything yourself or outsource this to a partner or consultant.
Doing a lot yourself
If you want to build a course or training based on Wordpress, then there are a number of steps that you must go through.
1. Arrange web hosting
2. Choose and secure a web domain
3. Create and install an SSL certificate
4. Install Wordpress on your website
5. Install and set up a template or design so that it looks nice
6. Choose, purchase, and install an LMS plug-in
7. Set up the system so that it is suitable for the training or course that you want to build.
8. Not to mention the continuous updates of the Wordpress system and the plug-ins that you must monitor yourself.
With Wordpress, a free basic course can be started with basic options and features. However, if you want some special functionalities, such as certificates, a cash register function to sell the course or other advanced solutions, then you have to purchase different plug-ins. See some examples below:
LearnDash, this is the most common Wordpress plug-in to build a training or a course, and it is available from $159 per year including one year of support. It is experienced as easy to use and it offers a wide range of functionalities.
LifterLMS, offers a wide range of options and is user-friendly. You can choose from different ‘add-ons’. This makes it as a whole often more expensive than another solution. You can purchase an individual add-on from $99.
LearnPress, you can compile a curriculum consisting of lessons and questions for free. You can expand the free function to enrich the course. For example, extend the course with WooCommerce to sell the course. The plug-in for this is free.
WP Courseware, this plug-in supports the ability to assess students in addition to compiling educational material. Available from $99 for 2 websites with 1 year of support and updates.
Sensei, this plug-in is very popular, but not as extensive as other solutions. You can use it to compile lessons and questions, administer tests, and assess students. For an annual license, you pay $129 with one year of support and updates.
Other plug-in options: there are numerous plug-ins to customize your environment with themes and logos, but also to add different options such as forms. Storefront and Elementor Pro are examples of this.
The advantages of a Wordpress-based learning platform
Users indicate that Wordpress is mainly interesting because of the low costs. You can scale up endlessly in users and it makes no differences whether the users are active or inactive.
The disadvantages of a Wordpress-based learning platform
Users indicate that scaling up to larger numbers is time-consuming, since this requires a different technique and you may encounter bugs that you must also correct yourself. Technical knowledge (such as coding) is a requirement. A beginner who is not active with Wordpress every day can still get far, but soon you become ambitious and Wordpress is then no longer sufficient. The security is tied together with several plug-ins, so in some cases, you are vulnerable, especially if you do not update the different plug-ins on time. Moreover, it can occur that the system no longer works properly due to an outdated plug-in. You must, therefore, continue to actively monitor this yourself.
Starting with building a training in aNewSpring
The main advantage of a closed source learning platform like aNewSpring is that it works everywhere and all the time. As a user, you don’t have to do anything about that. You can therefore concentrate on building your training and on your participants. Moreover, aNewSpring is made for the trainer and the tutor. We try to inspire you so that the quality or the volume of your training increases. Our revenue model is based on your success. You only pay when you register participants.
The advantages of aNewSpring
If you want to build a training or a course and offer it to students, then you can create a free test environment via the website of aNewSpring. If you have ever worked with a system, you will quickly find your way. You do not have to program anything. Get started in the platform and fill the environment with content.
If you are satisfied with the setup, you can finalize the test environment and register participants. You get immediate access to all features, including a cash register to sell the course (catalogue), and you don’t have to install a special plug-in. The updates (and possible bugs) are handled (and corrected) by aNewSpring. In addition, backups and optimum security are guaranteed.
The costs are very clear in advance, no surprises afterwards. You only pay when you have a participant log in, and that is a fixed amount per year. The more participants, the lower the license costs. The support and new releases are included. Check the following website for the different options: https://www.anewspring.com/pricing/
The disadvantages of aNewSpring
You may think that there are no disadvantages to using aNewSpring, yet there are a few. aNewSpring is the owner of the technology and the software. It may happen, for example, that we develop a new functionality (just like we recently added a video submission command function) that is of no use to you. Regarding the content, you remain the sole owner.
In addition, there are many possibilities in aNewSpring that you can use immediately, but it is useful to follow a training course or to make some time available to learn how to use the various functionalities.
Summary: A learning platform based on Wordpress versus aNewSpring
Below, you will find everything in a nutshell:
Start without start-up costs?
Immediately start building a course or training?
Hosting and support included?
Easy to scale up in users?
Suitable for trainers?
Yes, though you have to arrange it yourself
Can content be logically arranged?
Various options for interaction?
No, not added by default
Use of different working method?
Easily reuse content in different courses?
Adaptive learning path?
No, not added by default
Releases and updates included?
Is security arranged for you?
I leave the training up to you. It just depends on how much time you want to spend on something and on what solutions you are looking for. The only thing left for me to say is that I wish you all the best! And if you need help, our inbound heroes are there to answer all your questions.