We spend a lot of time with clients creating custom training solutions and on our YouTube channel looking at great WordPress plugins like Sensei, WP-Courseware, and Train-up!
However, all of these plugins cost money, so we were as surprised as you were to find out from our loyal listeners and viewers that a free WordPress alternative has arrived in Namaste! But is it a good alternative to Sensei and WP-Courseware on WordPress?
Namaste for WordPress
Namaste is a free plugin for WordPress that can be found here.
The purpose of Namaste is for teaching courses online, but it accomplishes this in a very open-ended and WordPress driven way.
Unlike a plugin like Sensei by WooThemes, which keeps in line with the flow of other Woo products but doesn’t tap directly into the WordPress framework for easy editing, Namaste is a “developer’s first” plugin.
It is so minimal that it provides functionality enough for a developer to go in and play with WordPress to get Namaste to bend to its will. The problem is that this also makes it potentially the least user friendly for people who are not experienced developers.
You get what you pay for here.
Namaste Courses, Lessons, and Homework
Most users will judge a plugin like this based on the structure of content for teaching classes online. This has to be easy to use, otherwise, what is the point?
Namaste functions with simplicity. You have courses, lessons, and homework.
The hierarchy would look like this, for example:
COURSE – Geometry of Triangles
LESSON – Right Angles
LESSON – Pythagorean Theorem
HOMEWORK – Math Problems
It is simple yet effective. There is not a lot of movement, but does it really matter for the basic purpose of teaching classes online?
The problem lies with the homework. The whole approach to Namaste is open. Because there is no quiz functionality out of the box, the homework questions offered are simply large text boxes in WordPress. I type in five word problems — using the example above — and the student enters the answers by literally typing.. “1. xxxxxxx 2. xxxxxxxxxxx 3. xxxxxxx, etc“.
Unlike systems and solutions on WP Courseware and Sensei, there is no space for multiple choice questions, fill-ins, or anything of that nature.
The courses and lesson pages are also simply WordPress posts. So you can paste video, pictures, and whatever else you want for content and that becomes the course of the lesson.
Where are the quizzes in Namaste?
If you were looking for quizzes in Namaste and could not find them, that is because they do not exist out of the box. Rather, Namaste enlists the help of another plugin titled “Watu” to add quiz functionality to the software.
Because of this, functionality is limited in the base plugin for Namaste. It’s free so I shouldn’t complain, but you are not getting the full scope of what an “everyman” would assume you would get out of a package such as this.
Can you sell classes with Namaste?
Yes you absolutely can. In the settings of Namaste, there are very simple options allowing the user to tap into paid lessons through PayPal or even the popular Stripe payment gateway, which we recommend and use for most of our clients.
You simply enter the key for your account or the email on the PayPal side to attach your account to the plugin. It is THAT SIMPLE.
There is also room for developers to add their own HTML code for their bank, which continues to lend this plugin more to developers than to non-developers.
Testing with our WordPress themes
We have tested the plugin on our themes, which are very clean, and they seem to work very well. Because both our themes and the plugin are designed first and foremost with the power of WordPress in mind, it is easy to set up and start working with this plugin on our themes.
We saw no issues on the front end, as we tested to make sure that courses and lessons displayed properly on the page.
Video Review of Namaste for WordPress
Here is our video review from our popular web show, PressThis, which explores the WordPress and customer side of Namaste for WordPress.
If you have any more questions about the way this plugin can function in a custom way with YOUR website needs, feel free to drop us a line. We would love to talk to you.