Recap: The second Learn WordPress course cohort

The Training Team has just facilitated Learn’s second course cohort. We saw great improvement from the first cohort, both in learner engagement and ease of administration. We think this is an effective learning method that can be continued on a regular basis.

Cohort overview

  • Invitations were sent to the 37 applicants on the waitlist from the first course cohort, and to 2 people who contacted cohort administrators showing interest to join.
  • Of those, 19 responded (51%) and 17 accepted (46%).
  • The cohort ran for 6 weeks (May 9th – June 20th) and included 6 calls.
  • An average of 9.3 participants attended each week’s call.
  • 5 participants completed the course content by the final call.
  • 2 participants did not start on the content.

Changes from the first cohort

  • The roles of course administration and teaching were split, with @bsanevans and @zoonini serving as administrators, and @psykro as the Subject Matter Expert (SME).
  • As the waitlist from the last cohort was used, no public call for participants was made.
  • All communication happened on SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at both prior to and during the cohort.
  • There was no content drip and participants were given access to all content on the first day.

Feedback survey results

Participants were asked to complete a feedback survey once they had completed the course. 

  • Of 17 participants, 10 filled out the survey (59%).
  • 70% of respondents indicated that the course achieved all of their expected learning outcomes, while 30% said it achieved many of their learning outcomes.
  • 80% of the participants thought there was enough time to complete the course, while another 20% felt that “the course workload was manageable, but external factors kept me from completing the course in time.”
View more survey feedback

Respondents highlighted the following areas as aspects they liked about the way the course content was presented:

  • The course walked through a pretty clear step-by-step approach with the most important part of each lesson at the beginning, with supplemental information afterward. I also appreciate that there was written content in addition to the video. I personally don’t like learning from videos and much prefer written content, so I don’t think I watched any of the videos, only read the content, which contained everything I needed. 
  • It was very bite-sized. I enjoyed that.
  • I really liked the way the course was presented.
  • Live demonstration.
  • The classes were the fun part. The live coding really helped as did Jonathan’s work to get people to interact in the class.
  • Clearly outlined / Inclusive of all skill levels / Feedback loops / Code review / Weekly meetings     
  • It was very well structured. It had the feeling of learning, taking stock of where I was and then moving on.
  • This was my first time doing any course where there was a live and real-time chat component so I did love having that ability to ask questions in realtime! Also, felt Jonathan & team were awesome. Really wanted us to succeed but also was realistic about development too and the issues that pop up. Looking forward to more from the Learn team!

Only one respondent highlighted a missing topic they expected to learn in this course: the REST APIREST API The REST API is an acronym for the RESTful Application Program Interface (API) that uses HTTP requests to GET, PUT, POST and DELETE data. It is how the front end of an application (think “phone app” or “website”) can communicate with the data store (think “database” or “file system”) “in detail.” Another respondent added, “BlockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. creation is quite a vast topic. Considering the regular development going on, it’s difficult to include everything and learn. Any guidance on how to keep up to date with upcoming features is helpful.” One more respondent shared, “The course was well designed and explained. It had some challenges but nothing that was too difficult to overcome with a little work.”

While most of the respondents indicated that the course instructions were clear and easy to follow, one person mentioned that it was hard to see and follow the live coding portions without being zoomed in, while another said that, “Instructions were fairly clear, but I had to ask questions to clarify some details.”

When asked if there was anything that would have made this course more successful, respondents shared the following suggestions:

  • Bonus quests/jumping off points after lessons, such as, “Try to add XYZ support” or “Take a look at this CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. block [link] and determine how it stores its data and renders it dynamically”     
  • I wonder if it would be worth splitting cohorts by experience level; e.g. one cohort for people who are more experienced developers and one for complete novices.
  • Links to advanced learning, Any example blocks challenges if we can try etc
  • I really would have liked some pair programming. This might be something that can be added to the course to have people work together. I think that it would foster a better experience when the meetings happened as it would allow for people to talk about the experiences with the curriculum.     

Other feedback and suggestions:

  • I didn’t get a ton of value from the weekly calls. I think I went into them expecting a deeper dive on the week’s lesson, rather than just a Q&A time. That’s okay though, because other folks seemed to get a lot out of the weekly calls.  
  • Use of git Roadmap for block development 
  • Thank you for the time and effort that has gone into creating and delivering this course; it’s been really useful.    
  • The only feedback I have is that I would have loved to have a lesson/challenge at the end of like, now that you’ve completed this, please try to do X, you will use what you learned and should be able to do this small task of adding this to your block.     
  • Jonathan & Kathryn were helpful. They were patient with our questions and their down to earth approach made me comfortable to ask questions.

Some participants also shared feedback on their blogs and social media:

Summary and next steps

The aim of this cohort was to build a sustainable program the Training Team can continue to administer for learners on Learn. In that light:

  • Administrative changes tested this time around all contributed to a more effective cohort management, and have been reflected in the course cohort handbook page.
  • The drop-off rate of participants throughout the cohort was similar to that of the last cohort. Based on these, inviting around 40 applicants will result in around 10 engaged participants and is a comfortably manageable cohort size.

The goals of a course cohort are similar to those of Online Workshops. The two differ only in that course cohorts happen across consecutive sessions while Online Workshops are generally one-off sessions.

  • By reconsidering course cohorts as an extension of Online Workshops, the administration of hosting course cohorts could probably be reduced further.
  • With the launch of Learning Pathways, the team now has multiple courses that could be used as the subject of course cohorts.

Based on these observations, we propose that the Training Team look to host future course cohorts as a series of Online Workshops that walks participants through Learning Pathways content.

Please comment below with any additional thoughts or questions. Thanks!

This post was written by @bsanevans with additional material by @zoonini.