Sensei LMS 4.0 Introduces New Block-Based Learning Mode Course Theme

Full-site editing has come to Sensei LMS in the plugin’s latest 4.0 release. The headline feature of this update is Learning Mode – a new block-based theme that gives course authors the ability to customize the learning experience in ways that were not possible before.

This version also updates the nine-year-old plugin’s menus and admin screens to make things easier to find, reducing the number of top-level menus.

“Until now, all course content was displayed in your regular WordPress theme, like any post or page,” Sensei representative Ronnie Burt said. “However, this is not always the best learning experience for students, as the site header, sidebars, and other content can be distracting. We developed Learning Mode to solve this problem — so your courses are the students’ main focus.” 

Learning Mode is bundled in the plugin and brings the full-site editing capabilities launched in WordPress 5.9 to lessons and quizzes. It does not apply to the whole site – only the LMS content URLs. The rest of the site uses the regular, active WordPress theme.

Learning Mode is free, not a paid add-on, and it is also optional. Sensei LMS users who update to 4.0 can continue having their course content displayed directly in their WordPress themes as they have been.

Sensei is one of the first plugins to offer this kind of separate, in-app FSE-enabled theme. It enables course authors to make their own customizations to courses and templates using blocks. Things like extra instructions, announcements, advertisements, links, are now much easier to insert. The colors and design can also be further customized to match the site’s branding.

This particular implementation highlights the potential of FSE where these kinds of template changes might have cost site owners hours in custom development before template editing was within reach. Many other types of plugins that introduce their own templates could benefit from a similar approach. It will be interesting to see how FSE opens up WordPress customization beyond just themes.

6 responses to “Sensei LMS 4.0 Introduces New Block-Based Learning Mode Course Theme”

    • Hi Devin, no theme required — it’s part of the plugin. And true, lots of LMS plugins and platforms have similar ‘modes’ or experiences – the differentiator here in this blog post is the support for FSE templates.

      • Hey Ronnie – Thanks for the follow up. I guess I’m confused by this headline then:
        “The headline feature of this update is Learning Mode – a new block-based theme that gives course authors the ability to customize the learning experience in ways that were not possible before.”

        So it’s not a theme feature, it’s part of the plugin. Got it… again. 🙂

  1. Interesting. I have evaluated a lot of LMS wordpress plugins (LearnPress, LearnDash, LifterLMS, Tutor LMS, Sensei LMS). For a site with an existing blog, some pages and a woocommerce shop. We just wanted an online course to our existing shop.

    I would have thought that Semsei LMS integrates best into the existing structure as it also part of WooCommerce and Automattic. Well, exactly the full-site mode – that is praised here – was the reason why we did not choose Sensei. It “destroyed” the layout of the whole rest of the site. So Sensei’s philosophy seems to be a courses-only site, which breaks a bit the philosophy of the wordpress universe imho, where you can have a shop, a blog and say a forum – and yeah maybe also two or three online courses – all together on your website.

    In the end we chose the Tutor LMS plugin since it has the best UI and integrates nicely with woocommerce and wordpress (Lifter LMS would have been the second choice).

    • Appreciate the feedback and comment, Gerd! Definitely not the experience we want to hear about.

      To clarify, this ‘theme’ doesn’t impact or replace anything else on your site. It only gets shown when viewing a lesson or quiz. You definitely can (and should) have your shop, blog, and everything else all on one site. Hope that helps!

      • You definitely can (and should) have your shop, blog, and everything else all on one site.

        Well, yeah, our problem was that the course always ran in full page mode (looking at my web history, I even googled for “sensei lms disable full page” ;) Anyways, so the whole site’s topbar navigation was ruined (menus, shopping cart, logo) and footer links all not working as they should. Hence, also it felt alien to the rest of the site.

        But well, I guess not everything suits everyone’s purpose and it is good to have options.

        I appreciate your comment.

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