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Onboarding new Ninjas with Sensei LMS: The good, the bad, and the ugly

May 26, 2015 - 11 Comments

While WooThemes was still a small company, it was easy to share necessary information with new team members (who we call “Ninjas”) as needed. However, this onboarding process gradually became more difficult as the team grew.

Several years ago, some of our team members started compiling a Google Doc with some of the most relevant information: our mission and focus, the most important tools we use, administrative details, and so on.

This solved several problems we had with onboarding. Most importantly, we didn’t throw people in at the deep end anymore — they now had a resource to review upon joining. It was also easy to edit. If some tools changed or some information needed to be added, anyone in the team could do it. Finally, we were already using Google Drive as a company, so our team members could consult the doc as needed.

A screenshot of what our original Ninja Manual looked like
A screenshot of what our original Ninja Manual looked like

However, there were also a few downsides. The most important one was that it got quite bulky. There were so many links in the document, and following that link often resulted in finding another document with more links. Before the new Ninja knew it, they had opened a dozen new tabs with different information, and that made it difficult to get back to the core.

It was also extremely challenging for supervisors and mentors to keep track of what was happening. Had the new Ninja read through everything or not? Did they need some assistance?

One of my first projects at WooThemes was addressing these challenges while still retaining the advantages of the Google Doc. Together with a small team, I started looking at our options. After a short while, we decided that we should use Sensei.

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Welcome the Sprightly Springbok: Sensei 1.7.0

February 2, 2015 - 17 Comments

Grand news for all the Sensei users out there, it took us slightly longer than anticipated but Sensei 1.7.0 (codename ‘Sprightly Springbok’) is now available! As mentioned on the Woo Dev Blog, Sensei 1.7.0 brings major improvements all round to the speed and performance of your website and we’ve optimised the way Sensei interacts with the database so you should now experience no decrease in load speed, no matter how many users, courses or lessons you have on your site.

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Before you start updating, please read the following important information.

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How to Launch Your Online Course Without Months of Hard Work

January 15, 2015 - 6 Comments

One thing that puts a lot of people off teaching online, is what they perceive to be a huge amount of work involved in creating the course content. I’ve seen people spend months producing an extensive course, with professionally edited video, and elaborately devised quizzes, only to find that when they finally release it, nobody wants to buy it.

There is another way

You may know everything there is to know about a certain subject. That doesn’t mean you have to cram all of that knowledge into one really long course before you can start selling it. My advice would be to follow a ‘lean production’ approach to online course creation.

If you’ve never heard of lean, it’s a set of principles derived from a manufacturing process developed by Toyota, which aims to create maximum value, with minimum waste. A key concept of the methodology is the ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP), which is ‘a product with the highest return on investment versus risk’.

For our purposes, that would mean producing a course (or courses) that deliver the maximum amount of value to your learners, with the minimum amount of time, effort and cost invested by you.

You then gather feedback on this course from your learners, and based on that feedback, gradually improve/expand your course offerings, and then repeat the whole process.

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Sensei Content Drip: set the pace your students learn

November 12, 2014 - 16 Comments

What’s the best way to learn something? A foreign language, say. We’ll tell you for free it’s not cramming. If you’re thinking it’s more effective to learn a few words and phrases at a time, practice them and let them take root in your long-term memory before moving on – you’re right!

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When you offer an online course and give your learners access to all of the content at once the problem is that they will often race ahead and try to learn too much too soon. And end up getting overwhelmed by too much content. And drop out.

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How Imperial College London built their Digital Learning Hub with WooCommerce and Sensei

October 20, 2014 - 5 Comments

In this post, David Page (Senior Application Developer at Psycle Interactive) tells us a bit about their latest project; using Sensei to build a digital learning hub for Imperial College London, one of the world’s top universities.

Note: This project features quite a bit of custom development so, while it’s not something a beginner could set up without help from an experienced developer, it gives you an idea of the kind of result which can be achieved with Sensei and a bit of technical knowledge.

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Sensei Case Study: Creating the AMK Pro Platform

July 29, 2014 - 9 Comments

franciscoI am Francisco Aguilera G., Creative Director of APK Estudio, a small Chilean web design studio, and blogger at FranciscoAMK.com. I have published online tutorials and courses for several years through my own blog, my company website and other platforms such as Udemy and Floqq.

At the beginning of 2014 I had three courses published independently on different platforms:

  • Diseño web con HTML y CSS desde cero (Web design with HTML and CSS from scratch) (Published at Udemy)
  • Dominando WordPress sin programación (Mastering WordPress without programming) (Published at Floqq, Udemy and a course website, using Campaign Monitor autoresponders to send a daily class to registered users)
  • Tu primera tienda online (Your first online store) (Published on its own website, also sending a daily class by email autoresponder)

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Keep your students coming back with Follow Up Emails

July 24, 2014 - 8 Comments

If you’re a Sensei user, you have probably experienced that buzz of satisfaction when a new customer starts taking one of your lovingly crafted courses, followed by the thrill of seeing them work their way through the course.

You may then have experienced the sense of disappointment, when that student completes the course and disappears, never to be heard from again, despite all the other great courses you have to offer.

So, what can you do to keep your students coming back for more?

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Sensei 1.5: A new way to teach

March 5, 2014 - 59 Comments

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.

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Creating a Tiered Membership Site with Sensei and Groups

February 13, 2014 - 13 Comments

We’ve previously explained how you can use Sensei and WooCommerce Subscriptions to create a membership-based learning site for your courses.

The only drawback to this method is that you can’t have a ‘tiered membership’ setup, so if you had a subscription with three options – Bronze, Silver, Gold – gold subscribers don’t automatically get access to the bronze and silver content too.

In this post I’ll describe a method you can use to create such a multi-tiered setup, it just requires that you use Sensei in a slightly non-standard way.

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Case Study: Vitruvian Fine Art Studio Online Art Classes

February 3, 2014 - 12 Comments

David JamiesonDavid Jamieson, from the Vitruvian Fine Art Studio in Chicago, tells us how he uses Sensei along with a handful of other plugins to deliver online art instruction.

The work I do is extremely low-tech: I make drawings and paintings, and teach others to do the same. I’m a co-founder and principal instructor at the Vitruvian Fine Art Studio, in Chicago, where we offer instruction in realistic drawing, painting, sculpture and anatomy to students of all levels.

While our work at the studio is low-tech, our business is firmly rooted in the 21st century – we try to make use of current technology to enhance and extend our teaching and, to that end, we’ve begun offering online courses and instructional video downloads, via our website. It turns out that there are lots of people out there seeking to improve their drawing and painting skills, and putting some of our instructional material online is the best way we can help them do just that.

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A free education icon set

July 30, 2013 - 28 Comments

200-custom-education-icon-set

Alejandro, founder of Freepik – a free engine tool that tracks and locates free vectors, ilustrations, psd and images without copyright infringement, is back again with another exclusive icon pack exclusively available from our site. After the success of our last ecommerce icon pack we comissioned the Freepik team to put together an education icon set, aimed at our Sensei community of designers, developers and end users.

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Case Study: BobWP WordPress Online Classes

July 23, 2013 - 16 Comments

5 minutes with WordPress enthusiast and long serving WooThemes customer, Bob Dunn, talking about his latest online classroom helping people build better blogs.

BobWPI’m a WordPress trainer and coach. I ended up in my current field after years of running a marketing, graphic and web design business. For the last four years, I have spent my time doing one-on-one WordPress training and coaching online, teaching in-person workshops, speaking at WordCamps and other conferences, and, basically, live and breathing WordPress. After much trial and error, I finally found the sweet spot for the online Build Your WordPress Blog classes I had been planning.

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Sensei 1.3.0 – Questioned and Graded

May 24, 2013 - 40 Comments

sensei-1-3-0

Since the launch of Sensei, our learning management system for WordPress, our aim has been laser-focused on one aspect of the product: enabling the offering of courses. This is Sensei’s core purpose. Keeping this core purpose in mind, our goal when developing Sensei is to ensure the course taking (for your students) and course management (for you, as the facilitator), are as seamless as possible. Our latest version aims to focus on exactly that.

Meet Sensei 1.3.0.

We’ve received really great feedback and ideas from the Sensei user community, many of whom are seasoned education professionals, looking to enter the online learning space (and to sell courses using WooCommerce). After spending some time discussing and fleshing out these ideas, we set about upgrading Sensei to include some much-anticipated new features and to enhance the existing core feature set.

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