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Sensei 1.5: A new way to teach

Written by Dan Johnson on March 5, 2014 Blog, Product news, Sensei.

sensei 1.5.0

We take customer feedback very seriously here at WooThemes, and we’ve been paying close attention to the features you’ve requested for Sensei on our ideas board.

Hot on the heels of our free Certificates and Modules extensions for Sensei, we’re happy to bring you Sensei version 1.5, which offers a whole bunch of improvements for your online learning websites.

Grading Quizzes just got Easier

Many of you pointed out that the old grading dashboard was quite cumbersome and it was difficult to find quizzes which needed grading.

We’ve completely rebuilt this so now, when you open the grading dashboard, you’ll immediately see a list of all submitted quizzes waiting to be graded.

Sensei v1.5 Grading
The Grading dashboard in Sensei 1.5

You can still filter by lesson (and also now by user) as well as being able to view all submitted quizzes, or just those that are graded, ungraded, or in progress.

Quiz Mastery

We’ve made some big improvements to the quiz editing panel in version 1.5.

Upload Your Assignments

We’ve introduced a new ‘File Upload’ question type, so that your learners can upload their assignments, if simple text input won’t suffice. This is perfect for assignments such as art courses, where students have to upload an image of their artwork to be graded.

File Upload question
An example of the new File Upload question type

Question Images

You can now add an image (or any other media supported in WordPress) to your quiz questions, so you can ask questions based on images, audio or video, rather than just text.

Media file
Using a media file in a question

Order all the things

With the new quiz edit panel, you can drag and drop to reorder your questions, or set the order to randomise (previously this was a site-wide setting).

By popular demand, you can now also set a manual order (again drag and drop) for the answers in a multiple choice question, where previously the order was always random. So now you can set questions where the answer is “all of the above” as shown:

Sensei Question
Setting a custom answer order

Question Bank

Many of you have asked for the ability to create a ‘bank’ of questions for a quiz, and then display a random selection of those questions to each learner.

Now you can do just that. For example, you could create 20 questions, and set the quiz to display 5 of them at random. Each student who takes the quiz will be given a different set of 5 questions, from the 20 available.

All this and more

Some other improvements in this release:

  • Lesson tags
  • Duplicate courses and lessons/quizzes with a single click
  • Filter by course on the ‘All Lessons’ screen
  • Add more than 5 answers to multiple choice questions
  • Improvements to the login form on the “My Courses” screen
  • Lots of code refactoring and ‘under the hood’ improvements

Check out the changelog for full details of all the new features and enhancements.

We’re really excited about these new features, and we look forward to hearing how you use them to make your courses even more awesome!

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59 Responses

  1. milque
    March 5, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    Terrific. Going to put this live as soon as we’ve done our UAT on it!!

    • Dan Johnson
      March 5, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

      Let us know what you think πŸ™‚

      • milque
        March 5, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

        Dan, will it be compatible with Woocommerce 2.0.20? I’m still awaiting bug resolutions for all the issues we’ve raised. Can’t upgrade until such time. Couple of major issues in there unfortunately. I can’t wait to try this out.

        Also, can I please ask you and all colleagues / developers working for / with Woothemes to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE show VERSION DETAILS. Because when you click on “View version 1.5.0 details” through WordPress you just get the standard product page. Shouldn’t be difficult. It’s not just Sensei, it’s most extensions. Utterly frustrating if you have the number of extensions I have running. You can see version details with Woocommerce 2.1.4 plus a HANDFUL of extensions, but this can be much better.

        Anyway, I can’t wait to try out v1.5.0 hopefully UAT’d really well so that I can put this live without too much delay. Good stuff.

        • Hugh Lashbrooke
          March 6, 2014 at 7:23 am #

          Sensei 1.5 is compatible with all versions of WooCommerce from v2.0 and up (so that includes v2.0.20 and v2.1.x). We always recommend testing big updates on testing server before going live, but we’re confident that this Sensei release won’t create any problems and the testing process should be quick for you πŸ˜€

          Thanks for the thoughts about showing the version details – that will be something we need to look into with regards to the WooThemes Helper.

          If you have any other issues please log a support ticket πŸ™‚

          • milque
            March 6, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

            Excellent, thanks for confirming Hugh that’s great and yes the helper might be a good place to get this sorted.

          • fiddlerstudios
            March 19, 2014 at 6:33 am #

            I 2nd the request for version details in the WP Admin update page. Most other “pro” plugins I have that auto-update (most of them) all do this.

            @milque I’m curious what issues you’re seeing with WC 2.1 that haven’t resolved yet?

  2. Peder Songedal
    March 5, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    Wow this looks good, I can’t wait to start using the quiz with images, before did use a separate plugin for the quiz but now I don’t need it. I can’t wait to get it on the test site tonight!

    Thanks for the good work!!! Now I do only wait for the teacher level account so I can give access to separate courses.

    • Dan Johnson
      March 5, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

      Thanks Peder!

      Teacher level accounts is on our to-do list, so watch this space πŸ™‚

      • allmyhoney
        March 5, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

        thumbs up for the teacher level πŸ˜‰

        • deshanp
          April 16, 2014 at 3:59 am #

          double thumbs up for me!

  3. wkriesel
    March 5, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Oh my goodness! This is a dream come true. I teach teachers how to use educational technology so a lot of the questions I would ask ideally would incorporate screenshots in the quiz question screen asking them to identify steps, processes, features, etc. Problem solved! Can’t wait to try it out.

    • Dan Johnson
      March 5, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

      Happy to help! Enjoy πŸ™‚

  4. Cesar Falcao
    March 5, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    Great update. SenseiΒ΄s is really becoming a great learning tool.

    • Dan Johnson
      March 5, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

      Thanks. Glad you approve, Cesar πŸ™‚

  5. David Jamieson
    March 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    This looks really good, Dan. I haven’t implemented quizzes in my courses, but with the file upload feature, I might need to re-think that πŸ™‚

    It’s really great to see Sensei continue getting better – looking forward to seeing what’s next!

    • Dan Johnson
      March 5, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

      Thanks David, let us know if the file upload feature works for your courses.

  6. allmyhoney
    March 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    Fantastic update and the random quizzes and images in quizzes for screenshots look like great improvements here. Look forward to trying them out. Bring on the teacher level πŸ˜‰

    • Hugh Lashbrooke
      March 5, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

      Glad you like the update!

      The teacher role is in the works – just hold tight πŸ™‚

  7. rpfear
    March 6, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    Nice to see the ongoing progress of Sensei. Thanks for your hard Woo work.

    Still looking for a suitable user drip feed mechanism – any hints as to when this might be available through Sensei (or via an alternative source?)?

    • Hugh Lashbrooke
      March 6, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

      Are you looking for a system that drips content to users by only allowing them to view certain courses at a time? If so, then that’s an idea that we’ve already started discussing internally and we’re looking at the best way of implementing it going forward πŸ™‚

      • Robert Fear
        March 7, 2014 at 7:44 am #

        What I’m looking for is a way to drip lesson content on a student by student basis. e.g. A student purchases a course on Monday with Lesson 1 immediately available. Subsequent lessons become progressively available over some interval. Other students progress with their course in the same way, based on the day they’ve purchased access to the course.

        This would allow for interaction with students between lessons as they progress rather than all at once at the end of a lesson (if each of the courses and lessons started on the same day).

        It’ll also help with controlling access to material.

        At the moment I’m setting up tiered courses with a fixed start date for pre-enrolled students – students enrolling post the start date will have to wait until the beginning of the next course before they can start.

        A useful additional feature to have, in conjunction with the content drip, would be course lesson schedule presented to the student when they logged into the course.

        • Hugh Lashbrooke
          March 7, 2014 at 7:52 am #

          Thanks for the feedback about this Robert – we’ll take all of this into consideration when working out the best way to implement the content drip functionality.

          • milque
            March 12, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

            As long as it’s not forced and an OPTION that’s fine, because we haven’t found content dripping in the best interest of our learners; not everybody learns at the same pace! Reminders that someone who hasn’t logged in for a custom period of time (say 2 or 4 weeks) would on the other hand be a good idea πŸ™‚

          • webfocus
            March 20, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

            Hi Hugh,

            I would badly need this same content drip mechanism but for WooCommerce/Subscriptions/Groups/Groups for WC.

            That would probably need to be an addon to the Groups plugin but I’d gladly pay for one as would several other people I know dealing with sites that need to mix e-commerce, memberships and events where WooCommerce is the central commerce/payment piece of the puzzle.

            Great work on Sensei. My wife is preparing a painting course so when she’s ready, Sensei is what I’ll put on her site :).

      • Joseph
        April 12, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

        I have a lot of experience with this drip feature as I run several sites with it. So I’m giving my feedback in hopes you guys get it right the first time. I;d swtich to sensei in a minute if you did. Keep it simple. lesson progress should still remain in the users hands when they complete a lesson it’s marked complete. The dripping should be of modules. So whether a student completes a lesson or not has nothing to do with dripping. For instance modules are released each day, week, month whatever frequency is set for the course. The lessons inside those modules are completed by the student as they normally would in sensei, so even if they have multiple modules dripped to them already they only progress through the course after completing the lessons as usual but they still have access to the other modules if they choose to get caught up and complete those lessons. Modules that have not been released yet should show the date they will be released. This builds anticipation. Another feature most “drip” developers over look is that of pausing the drip. A very big problem is credit card expiry. When a subscribers credit card expires if they don’t update the subscription in time it cancels and all module dripping progress is lost as the subscription is cancelled. If they want to re-subscribe they have to start all over. They should be able to resume where they left off. In my experience many will resubscribe but its a nightmare trying give them access from where they left off because the software doesn’t remember they get treated as a new subscriber. Getting this right the first time would save having to solve this problem in future releases. Hope this helps. Looking forward. any ideas when this might be available?

  8. back2nham
    March 7, 2014 at 1:22 am #

    Amazing! Student upload is what I’ve been waiting for from day 1 and now I’m mega excited about getting my courses transferred over to the Sensei platform from Moodle!

  9. Nathan
    March 7, 2014 at 5:56 am #

    The new features in Sensei 1.5 are Awesome!

    Looking forward to the upcoming Teacher Role and Content Dripping!

    • Dan Johnson
      March 7, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      Thanks guys, glad you’re all enjoying the new features! πŸ™‚

  10. Mel
    March 8, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    We’re developing a WP site for a big international music project. We’ll be integrating paid music related courses for schools and adults and as we are running Woocommerce, Sensei seems like a great choice. The course for adults are straight forward, but we have some questions about the possibilities for our schools courses.

    We’d like to offer schools a complete course package which includes; lesson plans and training videos for teachers, as well as audio, course videos and downloadable worksheets for students. We’d also like to set up an e-learning environment for the students which the teachers can access to grade quizzes & assignments. We’ll be hosting all the material on our site, but the school would be running the course. This means we need split level access for teachers and students. Is this possible with Sensei? Also once the school buys the course package, will all their students be able to register and use the e-learning section without paying?
    We would consider splitting the package into two; one part with all the teacher resources and the other just the e-learning platform for students, but would still need multiple registration for their students.

    Thanks for your reply!

    • Hugh Lashbrooke
      March 10, 2014 at 8:53 am #

      Hi Mel,

      We can definitely help you out with a solution for that – please email with a detailed explanation of what you need and we’ll point you in the right direction.

  11. joachim21
    March 8, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    Hi, thank you very much for your hard work πŸ™‚

    I just have some bugs since the new release 1.5 and 1.5.1 still the same.
    So, i can yet appreciate all the new benefit of Sensei.

    When I try to go to the grading dashboard i receive some message like this one :

    Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 100663296 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 24 bytes) in /……./wp-includes/query.php on line 1433

    I actually have 96 Mb of memory limit for worpdress (WP 3.8.1 and WC 2.1.5)

    Can you help me ?

    • Hugh Lashbrooke
      March 10, 2014 at 8:54 am #

      Please log a support ticket and we’ll see what we can do to help you out.

  12. Sylas
    March 8, 2014 at 9:42 pm #


    If I buy a license from Sensei to a site, I can reinstall as many times as I want?

    I can install on a different domain, if I give up the old domain?

    Will I have unlimited access without paying for all future updates?


    • marializ
      March 9, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

      Hi Sylas,

      as far as I know you can install on a different domain, just disable license at old domain.

      • Sylas
        March 11, 2014 at 3:23 am #


    • Hugh Lashbrooke
      March 10, 2014 at 8:58 am #

      Hi Syla,

      marializ is correct- if you disable your license for the old domain you can link it to the new domain. Please see our FAQ for info about our licenses and how long they last:

  13. supero
    March 9, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    Does Sensei support swf files in quizes?

    • Hugh Lashbrooke
      March 10, 2014 at 9:00 am #

      Sensei will support any type of file that you can normally upload to WordPress. Images, videos and audio files will be displayed/played on the page, but any other file type will display a link to view/download it.

  14. marializ
    March 9, 2014 at 7:56 pm #


    This is is awesome news!!
    I was waiting for Sensei File Upload question type!

    Will you plan to add some settings for uploaded file types and size?
    Or maybe there is some additional plugins where I can set which file types users can upload and set max upload size, because now it takes size from php config.

  15. Christian
    March 10, 2014 at 10:36 am #


    Sensei looks like the solution I’m searching for. But I’ve got a presale question:

    In which ways can the lessons be presented?

    Are they displayed similiar to a blog view? Or can I sort and present them like regular products in my woocommerce shop?

    Thanks for your help,


    • Hugh Lashbrooke
      March 10, 2014 at 10:56 am #

      Hi Christian,

      The lessons for a course are displayed in a similar sort of way to the standard blog view, but the templates that display the lessons are customisable and can be modified from your theme in the same way that would do for WooCommerce. These docs should help you out with that:

  16. Christian
    March 10, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    Ok thank you.

    So did I get it right:

    1. The lessons are linked to virtual products, but can not displayed as a product.

    2. I can display lessons in a different way then like a blog view, by using widgets and customizing the code.

    I hope I’m wrong with point number. That’s the one I am so confused about, because I can not find any example of product listings reffering to lessons. I just see lessons in blog style view. And that’s not what I want πŸ™‚

    • Hugh Lashbrooke
      March 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

      Lessons are separate to products, but each course can be linked with a WooCommerce product so that a student needs to buy that product in order to access the course. These products are just like any normal product in your store and are displayed as such. With the templating system you can display courses and lessons in any way that you like.

      If you would like further help with this please email so we can help you more thoroughly.

      • Sylas
        March 11, 2014 at 3:22 am #

        Thank you!

  17. Christian
    March 10, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    Great, you helped me a lot! Thank you very much for your quick replies, I appreciate that.

  18. TimTimay
    March 11, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    “We take customer feedback very seriously here at WooThemes”… HA!

    I haven’t had a good laugh like that in quite awhile.


  19. Gary Moncrieff
    March 12, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    Hey All

    Does sensei track the amount of time students spend online in sessions?

  20. milque
    March 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    For those interested, we’ve been using Sensei for a while. The changes made are welcome (much, much better multiple choice functionality now!).

    Upgrade wise:
    – We’ve briefly tested on staging without a single issue.
    – Upgraded on live without a single issue.
    – The first time ever that an upgrade with Sensei / Woocommerce didn’t first require changes/bug fixes, so it seems more emphasis is placed on user acceptance testing which is very promising!!!

    Key changes we’ve spotted:
    – Much clearer choice whether to randomise questions and, per question whether to randomise answers inside or not (which is enabled by default, and that’s fine but you can deselect it)
    – You can choose whether to have 20+ multiple choice options per question, or as little as 1 (which actually does have its use, but we’re not going to share why given that’s a proprietary method we’ve created :)) You can also choose whether question A should have 10 choices and question B only 3 choices. We used to “force” our quizzes to the 5 multiple choices before this upgrade, so this is a very welcome addition. Because some need more, some need fewer.
    – Much better and easier drag-and-order approach used. Works as expected.
    – File upload can certainly be handy for things in future (we don’t have a need for it yet)
    – You can also add a file (photo/video/mp3) as part of the question – nice for visual or audio tests for example
    – Lesson tags (not sure how we’re going to use this yet???)
    – Improved responsive support in backend/admin panel (this is useful when you work with multiple windows)
    – Plus better user interface!

    What we’re still missing:
    – “fill in the blank” type questions should really be auto-graded (as previously, if you use this type of question your auto-grading is disabled). How we see this work: 1) ignore capitalisation, 2) allow suggestion how many characters the answer should be, 3) indicate whether it’s a numeric or alphanumeric field. This can be handy when you want people to calculate the answer to something, or if you want to accept the grass is [green], [Green] or [GReen] type of answers. I can’t imagine that this is difficult, but I do imagine that this will make the entire quiz experience much more varied for learners!
    – Learner analysis / reporting could still be improved. Should have functionality such as: “recent graduates past week”, “X module in a given course takes longest to complete on average”, “get all learner records for user X (in a single report type overview, not with endless click-throughs!), “average course completion by month” things like that. This can easily be tied to those google type visual reports. Then allow actions e.g. capture all emails of users who have not logged in for the past 4 weeks (and you can then use whatever internal or external mail solution to send out an inspirational reminder to get people back in and pick up where they’ve left!).

    And a suggestion for the near future:
    – Learner identification. A little like how coursera does it. We’ve built our own steps but if Sensei offers an option to check for learner’s ID (such as using an advanced version of the upload functionality) that might not be a bad idea. If you offer formal qualifications this is a requirement by regulators. That said, always make it an option and allow us to choose which module we’d want to activate this in.

    Hopefully useful to somebody πŸ™‚

    • Hugh Lashbrooke
      March 12, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

      Thanks for the awesome feedback!

      Glad that you didn’t have any issues upgrading – we tried to make sure the upgrade process would be as seamless as possible for this release, despite all the new features and code refactoring πŸ™‚

      Great to see that you’re happy with the new features – a big focus of this release was making the quiz UI more feature-rich and user-friendly, so I’m glad that focus really paid off for you.

      In terms of the auto-grading for gap fill questions – that’s something we’ve toyed with, but ultimately there are too many variables involved. For example, if the word to fill in is a number then the user could either say ‘four’ or ‘4’, which would be difficult to programmatically test for unless numerous different answers were specified by the course owner. So we have considered it and if we can work out a smooth UI for it then it might be back on the table at a later date.

      We are aware of the shortcomings in the Analysis section and that is something that we are planning and working out the best solution for – we want it to be absolutely perfect, so we don’t have an ETA for the release yet. We will take your feedback into account though, so thanks for sharing to help make Sensei even better πŸ™‚

      Keep the feedback coming – we love hearing what you’re doing with Sensei and how it’s working for you!

  21. Christian
    March 14, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    Hey again,

    is there any way that users can create lessons? That would be awesome for my project.

    • Christian
      March 17, 2014 at 1:51 am #

      …from frontend…

  22. Gabbi
    March 26, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Hey Hugh Lashbrooke,

    Its been a great feeling working in sensei theme.

    But actually I am facing a difficulty in posting mathematic equations( like A2 (actually tried for A square) )..

    Can you please help me out with that.

  23. Adam
    April 1, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    Would love to see optional custom fields for certificates of completion. We require a one time entry of the learner’s professional license number to appear on all certificates. Once entered, the learner cannot change it. Best flow is to ask for the license number AFTER the purchase but before is OK if they can have a message they may fill it out later. However, once entered, cannot be changed. This prevents multiple users from re-issuing certificates with different license numbers.

  24. mhagan
    April 2, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    I am interested in developing curriculum content that can be used by any teacher. Is this possible with Sensei (is there a way they can use the content we provide and track their own students without us getting involved?) I am just not clear on whether this is for one teacher to use directly with students, or if content can be developed and used by other teachers.

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