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Courseware System Case Study

How one of the biggest names in blogging leverages the most widely-implemented WordPress learning management system plugin.

© Blog Marketing Academy

Before the iPhone, Facebook, Google, or WordPress were part of our daily routine, David Risley was already making a full-time living online. He’s been building successful businesses online for over 14 years. I always cringe when I hear the word “guru”, but if anyone deserves the title in the world of online subscription-based training, it’s David.

His first site, PCMech.com, focused on helping home computer enthusiasts with insights and how-to guides. It quickly accrued a massive following.

During a product “re-launch” in 2009 for the members-only training offered on the site, he generated $12,047 in 10 days. Not bad, right?

© Blog Marketing Academy

David has since focused his efforts on sharing his expertise in driving major traffic to online businesses, hitting the digital marketing speaking circuit and building a new brand around his Blog Marketing Academy project.

The Blog Marketing Academy is a members-only training resource for online entrepreneurs interested in finding ways to generate sustainable, high-quality traffic, unique and engaging content, and the most targeted monetizations methods. While there are plenty of courses out there which teach you to game the search engines and throw Adsense on your site while outsourcing your content production to someone for $5 an article, the Blog Marketing Academy is professional training for building a real online business.

And during David’s recent overhaul of the Blog Marketing Academy, he trusted WP Courseware as his learning management system plugin to deliver his premium training content to thousands of members.

Ben and I don’t often pat ourselves on the back, but we were pretty proud to have WP Courseware become such an integral piece of David’s very successful business.

Why WP Courseware?

Let’s face it…since we launched WP Courseware nearly a year ago, more than one other developer has followed suit in an attempt to replicate the ease of use and full feature set which the plugin provides.

So why would one of the most prominent entrepreneurs in the blogosphere choose WP Courseware?

Well, we decided to pose this question directly to David. His response?

“When it came to the Academy, my ideal setup would include a few things, including the ability for students to mark modules completed when they are done, and track their progress, and the ability for me and my staff to track student progress so we can follow up if people aren’t moving.

Nate contacted me about checking out WP Courseware. I did… and I was impressed. Today, I have WP Courseware integrated into the delivery side of Blog Marketing Academy itself.”

How David Is Using WP Courseware

While I can’t reveal much of David’s secret method to online success which he shares with members of the Blog Marketing Academy, he does take the training he delivers very seriously. He’s structured the training in easily digestible course units which are grouped into several overarching modules that each focus on key elements of building a business which successfully pulls in qualified traffic and presents relevant offers.

I will say that his module on time management for online entrepreneurs alone is worth the price of the course and most online business coaching systems ignore this important aspect entirely.

David’s using a couple of custom code hacks that he wrote (yeah, he’s a pretty smart guy), however, the training area primarily utilizes WP Courseware right out of the box.

Upon logging into the Academy, the members‘ area includes links to all of the resources provided with a subscription to the training, including two courses, past recordings of Q&A and mastermind group calls, a private forum, access to a private Facebook group, and information on upcoming private webinars. You can utilize a page like this, too, by simply directing your logged in users to a “dashboard” page. And it doesn’t need to be complicated, as you can see in the screenshot.

© Blog Marketing Academy

Although the forum sees good use from members, David primarily relies on the Facebook group to engage in ongoing discussions with community members. As he states, “All of our members are already on Facebook anyway.”

This is a great lesson in engagement!

When users log into Facebook, they receive updates in their news feed regarding what’s going on in any Groups with which they’re involved. Relying on a forum requires that members have a separate way of subscribing to forum threads or that they visit your site to engage with you. Why not utilize Facebook Groups for your training and allow your subscribers to see what’s been going on within your community?

Another great feature David is using within the Blog Marketing Academy is custom image buttons to link to the individual training module pages. He then places the WP Courseware shortcode for each individual module within that page. This is a strategy that Ben and I used on one of our training sites a couple of years ago and it works great. It’s very easy to do and creates a visually attractive way to provide access to each of your training modules.

Do I hear any votes for a future WP Courseware update to include custom image buttons for modules? 🙂

© Blog Marketing Academy

David also provides a link within the members‘ area to a “Global Access” view. On this page, he utilizes the WP Courseware shortcode for the entire course. While this might present a case of information overload if he didn’t first present users with the custom image button links to each module, it does allow users to view all course units at once to find those that they want to return to or future units which may be more relevant to their specific training needs.

© Blog Marketing Academy

Last Updated August 23, 2017

Posted in Blog, Case Study, Fly Plugin News

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About Nate Johnson

Nate Johnson is one of the co-founders of Fly Plugins, creators of the first and most widely-implemented learning management system for WordPress, WP Courseware. Since 2012, he has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, corporate training departments, and higher education institutions develop and deploy online training courses from their WordPress websites.

View all posts by Nate Johnson →

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  • Dos and Don'ts with UML Use Cases

    UML use cases should not be used to capture all the details of a system. The granularity to which you define use cases in a diagram should be enough to keep the use case diagram uncluttered and readable, yet, be complete without missing significant aspects of the required functionality. You will encounter such decision points of the level of granularity that you need to define when you build any of the UML diagrams.

    An important rule that gets forgotten during use creation is the creeping in of design issues. Use cases are meant to capture "what" the system is, not "how" the system will be designed or built. Use cases should be free of any design characteristics. If you end up defining design characteristics in a use case, you need to go back to the drawing board and start again.

    UML Case study—Courseware Management System

    Use case modeling, as you have learnt today, involves analyzing the problem statement to determine the business processes of the system. We will now design the use case model for the Courseware Management System case study.
    Note: In case you need to revisit the problem statement of the Courseware Management System described in Article 2, click here.

    Analyze the problem statement to identify the potential actors and use cases of the system. First, let us list the potential actors. A quick look at the problem statement shows up the following terms and entities specific to the system:

    • Courses and Topics that make up a course
    • Tutors who teach courses
    • Course administrators who mange the assignment of the courses to tutors
    • Calendar or Course Schedule is generated as a result of the
    • Students who refer to the Course schedule or Calendar to decide which courses they wish to take up for study

    Identifying Actors of the Courseware Management System

    Out of the preceding list, one thing is clear. There are certain terms and entities in the list that identify that they perform certain roles or business processes. We will discuss what these business processes are after we complete our analysis for identifying actors. For now, focus on identifying the actors in the system. From the preceding list, you can see that there are some entities that perform an action and some that form the target for the action. The entities that perform action will be the actors for the Courseware Management System. In the above list, the actors that we can identify are:

    • Tutors
    • Course administrators
    • Students

    But, because students are not the potential active participants for this system, we will drop them from the list of actors. Similarly, tutors are not active participants from our system's perspective, and hence, we will exclude tutors from our list if roles. Yet, we will still record them in our use case model since we do not wish to lose this business information. Our final list of primary actors has now come down to only one:

    Identifying Use Cases of the Courseware Management System

    Next, let us identify the potential business processes in the Courseware Management System. The primary business flows in the system are:

    • Manage courses
    • Manage course assignments

    As we analyze the problem statement further, we can determine some discrete processes within these primary business flows. To manage courses, the actor needs to have the ability to view existing courses, manage the course information for a course, such as duration and so forth, and also manage the addition or removal of topics for a course. So, within the "Manage courses" use case, we can identify the following sub processes:

    • View courses
    • Manage topics for a course
    • Manage course information

    And similarly, the "Manage course assignment" use case can be refined into smaller discrete processes such as viewing the course calendar, viewing tutors, managing the tutor information of tutors working for the organization, and of course, assigning courses to tutors. Now, the use cases that we have identified within the "Manage course assignment" use case are:

    • View course calendar
    • View tutors
    • Manage tutor information
    • Assign courses to tutors

    Our final list of use cases for the courseware management system will now be:

    • View courses
    • Manage topics for a course
    • Manage course information
    • View course calendar
    • View tutors
    • Manage tutor information
    • Assign courses to tutors
    If you were analyzing a sentence in English, the subject in the sentence can be identified as a potential actor and the verb part of the sentence can be a potential use case. Remember, this may or may not apply to the problem at hand, but is a good starting point for use case modeling.

    Use Case Diagram


    Click here for a larger image.

    Figure 3.8: the UML use case diagram for the Courseware Management System

    You have completed identifying potential use cases and actors. Take a look at the use case diagram for the Courseware Management System in Figure 3.7. The use case diagram of the Courseware Management System includes all the actors and use cases that we identified during our analysis of the problem statement.

    Summary

    Use case diagrams were the starting point of our journey in exploring each of the UML diagrams. Business functionality can be quickly represented in a simple and lucid fashion by using use case diagrams. Once the groundwork for depicting use cases is completed, the next step, as we learnt today, is writing detailed use case scenarios that will be used as the base functional requirements for the system. Our exercise in defining the use case diagram for the Courseware Management System case study was useful and enabled us to get a hands-on experience in applying what we learnt today.

    In the coming article, you will study the next UML diagram—the Class diagram.

    About the Authors

    Mandar S. Chitnis, Lakshmi Ananthamurthy, and Pravin S. Tiwari are the co-founders of Novusware, Inc. They have co-authored the book Teach Yourself BEA WebLogic Server 7.0 in 21 Days (SAMS publishing Oct 2002) based on the recently launched WebLogic Server 7.0 by BEA Systems inc.

    For any questions or queries regarding the article contents, please contact articlewriters@novusware.com.

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