How We Created Grade Hacks

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Grade HacksNow that Grade Hacks is live, we’re excited to tell you more about what went into it. It wasn’t easy setting up a learning platform that lets us deliver engaging courseware at negligible monthly cost!

Grade Hacks is built on WordPress. Cost and ease of maintenance were certainly big considerations as a bootstrapped venture, and we wanted to do as much work in-house as possible (at the time of writing, Uncanny Owl did all of the Grade Hacks work independently). Since Grade Hacks is a paid course, we used Woo Commerce to handle payment processing. LearnDash is the Learning Management System behind Grade Hacks. No WordPress LMS could do everything we wanted, but LearnDash came closest and Justin (the creator) was a big help when we ran into issues. We also tried Sensei but it didn’t have the functionality we needed and the Woo Themes support team wasn’t responsive enough.

Of course, WordPress, Woo Commerce and LearnDash weren’t enough on their own to create the platform that we wanted Grade Hacks to be. We turned to WordPress plugins (over 40 of them!) for things like analytics, achievements, permissions, profiles, email, spam, performance, gift certificates, and much, much more. And even then we had to customize some of the code to make everything cooperate. Updates can be a bit tense!

For the courseware, we needed an authoring tool that we could use to quickly build interactive and engaging material. We selected Articulate Storyline for most of the courseware and used assets from eLearning Brothers and several stock photo sites. By using templates and applying lesson models, we were able to build the elearning materials quite quickly.

Grade Hacks is mostly served from a dedicated server here in Canada. To improve performance for visitors, especially those outside of North America, we use MaxCDN, a Content Distribution Network with peering partners all over the world, to serve many of the static files. This approaches ensures that everyone has a great experience while using Grade Hacks.

Best of all, we created Grade Hacks in under 3 months on almost no budget. Platform, courseware, downloads, calculators, screencasts, everything. We spent a few hundred dollars on tools and assets, and our only ongoing cost is the price of hosting. If 2 people at Uncanny Owl can create a large-scale elearning program and the technology to drive it in under 3 months while working on other projects, imagine what we can do for your company. Contact us today so we can tell you!