Developing and Managing Educational Content at Scale

blog author headshot
Andrew Brown ·

May 25, 2022

In the decades since Bill Gates declared, "content is king," people have said it a lot, so apologies in advance, but… content is still king. 

When Gates said those words, he was talking about content on the Internet would change the world. 

And it did.

More recently, the phrase has become popular with content marketers. 

Today, it's taking on a new meaning—one that applies to the world of online learning. 

As more companies realize the value of online learning and launching an academy, they're also seeing that the content is just as important as anything else, including the learning management system (LMS) and the team that runs it. 

But, creating content for the digital world isn't as easy as it sounds — learning styles, devices and lifestyle differences can make it tricky.

To help you overcome these challenges, I teamed up with the leader of The HubSpot Academy, Courtney Sembler, to talk about developing and managing educational content destined to succeed in the online world.

You can check out the webinar below or keep scrolling for a few of my favorite nuggets of wisdom.

Instructional Designers Can (and Should Be) Your Secret Weapon

You're probably familiar with graphic designers. 

But instructional designers? Maybe not. 

While these two roles may sound similar and can both play a role in the success of your online education journey, the latter is your secret weapon.

Unlike traditional graphic designers, instructional designers create content specifically for the online world, ensuring that customers, employees, or partners benefit from the content.

They do this by using the ADDIE model (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation). This ID framework helps learning teams create content quickly by focusing on data and feedback to understand what learners need. 

Said another way, ADDIE prioritizes content creation efforts, ensuring that IDs and the team aren't wasting their time creating content no one really needs. 

ADDIE also provides a framework and process that makes scaling content creation much easier as the team and learner base grows.

Start Today

One of the biggest challenges I see today, especially with teams early in their journey, is that they push their program's launch date until they have a good chunk of content ready. 

While this is a logical train of thought, don't buy into the belief that you need an entire library of content to get started. 

In reality, you only need one—an existing blog post, a video on YouTube, or a deck from the sales team you can repurpose for your learners. 

Take anything and get the ball rolling. 

This exactly is what HubSpot did in 2012 when it launched its Academy. 

Yep. The first iteration of The HubSpot Academy launched with three one-hour live training sessions. That's it. 

A couple of years later, HubSpot introduced on-demand certifications. Then, modularized online training that helped it scale. 

So, talk to customer success managers (CSMs), the product team and other internal stakeholders to identify pain points, gaps and other opportunities for content.

Then, create those pieces of content and expand as you establish your program with leadership and learners.

Think About Scale From the Start

Conventional wisdom has it that an academy's start or early stages should focus on getting the first few pieces of content right.

While that's definitely the right mindset, don't lose sight of the bigger picture and how you'll create content as you grow.

Ask yourself: As your product evolves, how will you update content to ensure it's relevant? 

Answering this question and having the solution and processes before you need them is essential to your program's long-term success and sustainability. 

HubSpot, for example, uses an internal tool that alerts the team when a product update could impact the relevancy of content. The team can then go into their internal library and decide if updates are necessary.

If you don't have the resources to implement something of this complexity, simply tagging content and housing it in a Google Drive folder can go a long way in helping you make necessary adjustments when the time inevitably comes.

These are just a few of my favorite nuggets from the webinar, but I definitely recommend checking out the rest of it with the link below — Courtney has some incredible insight you can apply to your program.


About the Author
author blog headshot

Andrew Brown

Andrew is a Content Marketing Manager. When he's not creating, you can find him watching the Buffalo Sabres, obsessing about Scandinavia or exploring NYC.

Read more from Andrew Brown

You might also be interested in ...