LearnDash and TinCan Advice Needed Regarding Plugins

Hello Everyone,

I am using LeanDash LMS for my Wordpress site.

I am new here. I am trying to understand if GrassBlade (Next Software Solutions) Plugins and the UnCanny Owl Plugins do exactly the same thing? 

If I was going to purchase the UnCanny Owl plugins I would most likely purchase the Uncanny LearnDash Toolkit Pro and Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting plugins. If I was to purchase the Next Software Solutions plugins I would most likely get the GrassBlade Pro plugin and GlassBlade LRS plugin.

I suppose what I am trying to understand is, if I was to buy one, I don't want to find out later that I need to buy the other to get some features. If you have used either I would love to hear your feedback and any suggestions.

So far I am leaning with UnCanny Owl mainly because they seem on appearance at least to look more professional and even display a telephone number on their website. But I GrassBlade is mentioned more on LeanDash's website, but they confirmed that UnCanny Owl will also be added when they update their website.

Any suggestions and advice welcome. Thank you.

 

8 Replies
Lisa Smyser

Hi Ryan,

I have been using Grassblade for 2 years and recently switched over to Uncanny. I find that Uncanny provides more options and better reporting features. The one feature I miss from Grassblade is that it automatically marked lessons complete and I didn't use the MARK COMPLETE button at all. The problem was that feature conflicted with BadgeOS, so I had to choose between automatic completion and issuing badges.

I tried working with Grassblade support, but he said it wasn't his issue and there was nothing he could do about it. I started a conversation with Uncanny and they were very responsive and helped me understand features and limitations without just pushing the sale.

If you embed your content with an iFrame, there's a plugin you can use with Uncanny that will mark lessons complete for you. I use a new window, so that didn't work. But I discovered that it's not as big of an issue as I thought for people to push that button! I'm still playing with javascript and plugins, and I believe someone will crack it soon, but for now the button is fine.

There are other things that are different, but overall I'm happy with the move and enjoy the Uncanny tools. I haven't looked back!

I think I will write a blog post about my experience with both tools. Hope this helps! Let me know if you have questions.

Lisa

Ryan Newman

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for your reply. However, I had decided to go with UnCanny last night. And seeing your reply this morning has confirmed that. However, I may consider GrassBlade or similar for the future. 

However, I have found the owner of UnCanny and the owner of GrassBlade both very helpful. They both responded to me quickly. I don't know if its still may continue to be same the after I am a customer.

I have based my decisions on the following:

* With GrassBlade I would have to host my own LRS. And if you have are going to do lots of tests like I do, the LRS will need to be maintained and you will need to do regular house keeping, which means keeping someone knowledgeable handy all the time like a freelance developer.

* Many of the well known hosting companies, especially Wordpress specialist won't allow you to host something like GrassBlade LRS. So you may need to look at dedicated server at some point.

* If you go with the hosted LRS, the price can add up very quickly.

* I could be wrong, but I think unless you need your reporting to talk to some external providers like colleagues etc a pure LRS like the GrassBlade one may be overkill or may not be needed by the vast majority of people. I am not even sure if we will need most of it.

You have been very helpful. Thank you.

Ryan

Lisa Smyser

Hi Ryan,

You will have the LRS either way if you're using xAPI. But with Uncanny, it is stored locally in your WordPress database. Uncanny intercepts the xAPI statements and puts them in your WP database instead of sending them off to an external LRS (like Grassblade). So technically, you're hosting your LRS now. But there are a few maintenance tools with Uncanny, so that's helpful.

I don't need to do extensive tracking, so I've found that I can just publish a web version and keep track of progress and completions in LearnDash. So I've turned xAPI off for now, to keep the database from growing unnecessarily. The good news is that I have lots of options!

Good luck with your project!

Lisa

Ryan Newman

Hi Constance,

Thank you. I have several hosting accounts as I have been in business (loosely speaking) for 12 plus years now. Most of my stuff is not related to elearning. However, for my more "valuable" sites I use Kinsta. Very specialist WP hosting and very expensive compared to most wp hosting specialists. However, for me its worth the money. I am actually considering wpengine for my less important sites. 

If you plan to install or setup loads of "non-standard" stuff to complement your site e.g GrassBlade then do some research and due diligence. Ask as many questions as you can.

Most people don't change hosting companies that often. A bit like their accountants, bank accounts and IT support. They will often change if something goes very wrong. I realised how costly having poor or unreliable hosting is recently, so I am happy to pay extra for good support and the best infrastructure. 

I heard wpengine is good. But if you plan to use things like (GrassBlade), which I am not at the moment, they may not be the best fit. I am sure there are more knowledgeable people than me who can advise you.

Lisa Smyser

Hi Constance,

I'm currently using a small independent hosting provider, but getting ready to move to SiteGround. I was selecting between SiteGround, LiquidWeb and WPEngine, and it's the best solution for my current needs.

The Grassblade issue is that the LRS is stored offsite, so you'll have lots of calls to the external database and need to be able to support that. I didn't have a big problem with that, but my website isn't super high volume. It's all about what you need.

Lisa

Constance Carlisle

Ryan & Lisa,

Thank you both for taking the time to respond. I am in the process of moving websites to Siteground.  This decision was based on consulting with a trusted tech friend and on my own research. I am learning as I go to test out some ideas.  Your posts are very timely and helpful. UnCanny Owl looks like a good option for the exact reasons you describe.

Also, so far, SiteGround CS has been fast and very helpful.

Thanks so much!

Constance