Yoast’s mission is SEO for everyone, and one way we work towards that is by providing knowledge on all aspects of SEO to everyone. Our blog has a wealth of knowledge, but it can be quite overwhelming: where to start? To help people easily learn all about a particular aspect of SEO, we also offer several SEO courses. These provide a full package of videos, selected reading materials and questions at the end of each lesson. Today, we’ve taken the first step in our ambitious plans for the future of the Yoast Academy.
The first step we take is migrating to another learning management system (LMS), but also improving many aspects of the learning environment. We’re thrilled with how this turned out and would love to share a sneak peek with you! So, in this post, Academy lead Jesse and developer Diede, two of the brains behind all this, discuss the changes and improvements to the front- and backend of the Academy. But first, let’s go back to where it all started!
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Origins of the Yoast Academy
The Yoast Academy was founded by Marieke some two years ago, to give people who wanted to up their SEO skills an alternative to reading through loads of posts and eBooks. Each course provides students with everything they need to master a specific aspect of SEO, for example, SEO copywriting, technical SEO or site structure. The tailor-made courses soon proved to be a success. The number of courses steadily grew, to a total of six today.
In the early days, it was mostly Marieke who spent much of her time on the academy; now we have two more people dedicating their time to improving and creating SEO courses.
The response of our students to our courses has been overwhelmingly positive:
“Getting through the #yoastacademy and LOVING it. Need sleep now. My brain is full for today. @yoast no more exercises today!” -Fiona Smallwood
“[…] as an entrepreneur it is also important for me to stay on top of the latest SEO developments for my presence. This is where Yoast Academy comes into play. They provide great knowledge transfer at fair prices. I’m really happy with what these guys have created with the Yoast Academy.” – Matthias Wilhelm
All these happy reactions have inspired us to invest more and more time in our courses, to make becoming an SEO expert on all aspects an attainable goal for everyone.
What’s changed with this update?
Of course, we’ve been pleased with our courses from the start, but this update has further improved them in some key areas. The most significant change is found in the learning environment. Jesse explains: “We simplified the course structure, so the lesson page is simpler than it was. We took out as much as we could, so the user has time to focus on the content itself.”
Besides removing distractions, the team added course navigation to the lesson pages. Jesse: “Users can now navigate through the course more easily, and will also have an idea of where they are in the course. So, this is a much more intuitive way to see what role the lesson plays in the course as a whole.”
Another change is that courses in the Yoast Academy are now accessible through MyYoast. This means that you can access your courses directly, no separate login is required. We have also added an interesting new feature in MyYoast. You can now manage your courses in MyYoast. This is especially interesting if you are buying a course as a company. If you buy ten courses, for example, you can assign ten employees to each course. Because of that, buying courses and managing courses for a large number of employees has become much easier.
Also, this migration has made Yoast Academy part of the yoast.com multisite environment. Diede explains what that means for the developers at Yoast: “I’m delighted that Yoast Academy will now be part of the yoast.com multisite. It won’t be a big change for users, but for us, as developers, it’ll be so much easier to work on the Academy. And besides that, it’s just very cool that we can now start using the Academy pages in MyYoast!”
New and improved questions
One final, crucial change that Academy students will notice when finishing a lesson: new and improved questions in four courses. The questions at the end of a lesson are now more interactive in our Basic SEO, Copywriting, Technical SEO and Structured data courses. Jesse explains why this is so important: “Learndash is an LMS that offers several different question types. This allows us, in turn, to have users practice what they should do, and they can test whether they can apply their knowledge, rather than just being told what they should do. So now students can actually practice SEO themselves in the course environment. If you just hear what the theory is, learning retention is much worse, so you simply don’t remember as much as when you practice yourself.” So changing the questions has been an essential step towards an even more meaningful learning experience.
One of these new question types is the ‘gap-fill exercise.’ In the screenshot below, you can see that this type of question not only requires the student to remember what they’ve learned but also to understand how to apply it.
Another new type of question, the sorting question, allows students to check whether they fully understand the steps required to do something. They can easily drag and drop each block in the right order.
Of course, switching to another LMS always takes some work. Diede reveals: “The biggest challenge in all this was to get to know this new plugin, inside and out, in such a short time.” However, having these new possibilities for our courses has been worth the effort.
We’re nowhere near done yet, in fact, we have some ambitious plans for the Academy. Jesse explains: “This migration was quite a big step, I think when you look at it in a vacuum. But we want to do so much more, so in that regard, this was just a preparation that will enable us to achieve much more in the future. We’re going to do more research among our users, to make sure that we know what they want in an academy and what they want to have improved. We’re going to combine that with our ideas of efficient learning to make sure that we make the best academy possible for our users. So in 2018, we’re going to take another big step!”
Check out Yoast Academy
In short, it’s been a great process so far, and you can expect to see a lot more about the Yoast Academy in 2018. We have big plans, and we look forward to carrying them out together. In the meantime, why don’t you check out our courses and explore the new and improved Yoast Academy?