As part of our “How We Work” series, we answer questions that we have received from readers to pull back the curtain and show you the technology, principles and processes that power our business. If you’re looking for the usual weekend reading, make sure you sign up for our Weekly Profile to see those articles that we want to pass along.
In the first “How We Work” article in this series, I wrote about the technology that we use to power The CP Journal, but what I left out of that post was the technology that allows us to actually deliver our products. Our website is the place where many of our clients spend all of their time interacting with us. Whether it’s reading something on our blog, downloading a resource from the library or going through the Tactical Analysis Program in the Academy, there are few things that impact the learning process for our clients as much as our website does.
These are the tools we use to build and deliver our online program on The CP Journal website:
This is the platform that our entire site is built off of. If you are unfamiliar with WordPress, it is an open source content management system that powers over 24% of the sites on the web. Yeah, that is a lot of websites. Because WordPress is open source, there are hundreds of developers around the world working on improving the platform, fixing security issues and making it easier to use. This means that we are able to provide our clients something beyond what many commercial platforms offer and, because it is free, we don’t have to raise the prices of our courses to cover these costs. Because of how easy it was to get our very first site up and running using GoDaddy, we also still use GoDaddy servers to host our site.
The Tactical Analysis Online Program is powered by the LearnDash learning management system (LMS) plugin. Because their software provides a solid foundation for our courses, we are able to further customize and improve the student experience using many of the add-ons that they offer. For instance, because of their integration with Easy Digital Downloads, we have a simple and high-functioning plugin to allow new students to sign up and go through our courses.
Why should our students care about this? With LearnDash’s simple setup and course management, we get to spend more time building new programs and improving our existing courses instead of spending our time trying to fix a glitch in the system. If e-learning is something that you spend time thinking about, I also recommend following the LearnDash blog where their CEO, Justin Farriman, has written a ton of articles on this topic.
Amazon S3 and S3 Media Maestro
The videos that provide the instruction in each module of the Tactical Analysis program are stored in the cloud on Amazon’s S3 servers. With Amazon’s secure and highly scalable storage, we only pay for the storage that we actually use, so it helps us to further keep the costs of delivering our online program down and provide our training at an affordable price. To actually play the videos stored in Amazon’s cloud on our site, we use a plugin called S3 Media Maestro that makes the embedding of those videos into our course pages extremely simple and straightforward so that we can use our time efficiently and get back to what really matters: building new modules and making improvements to our existing ones.
Making The Videos
To produce the video modules used in the Tactical Analysis Course, we start by outlining and scripting the modules in Evernote. With the lesson plan and a majority of the speaking notes set, we use Keynote to design and build the media for the module. With each “slide” built, we can finalize our script for the module and ensure that it accomplishes the goal we have for that block of instruction. We then record the video using Camtasia to record the screen while delivering the instruction into the Yeti microphone from Blue Microphones. Once the recording of the module is complete, we do our editing in iMovie. We store the final version of the video locally in Dropbox and upload it to Amazon’s S3 servers to play it online. These tools and processes are not chosen randomly, but allow us to stay true to some of our core beliefs. In order to provide a truly valuable and relevant course to our clients and students, these tools help us make improvements, integrate lessons learned from current events into the program in short order and iterate at a very rapid pace.
As we continue to build stronger bonds with our clients, we like to help others understand how we work so that we can further build the trust in those relationships. With a better understanding of the processes and software that we use to develop our courses and function as a company, we find that we can accelerate through the part of the conversation we often have with clients about how the work will be delivered, and can instead spend more time focusing on what is important, the classes that can help you and your organization get left of bang.
Want to see all of our “How We Work” articles? Click here to see the series.