It’s a fair question. Since we’re launching far more content in two quarters than we ever have in an entire year, how are we meeting the standard of quality we’re known for, much less exceeding it?
To answer that question, we’re giving you a never-before-seen inside look at how we build Linux Academy content.
Building a Full-Time Team of Content Creators
First things first, creating high-quality content is hard — very hard. Especially when it comes to cloud technology, where there are more release updates than there are days in the year. That’s why we built a team of full-time Training Architects with real-world IT operations experience. We don’t outsource our content creation, and we only hire the best instructors. Our Training Architects have been there and done it, and now they’re looking to give back to the community and train the world’s next Linux and cloud experts.
We also hire full-time team members because we believe in supporting our students. One of the benefits of in-person training is the ability to raise your hand and ask questions when you need help. Most online education platforms don’t give you that option, so if you’re stuck, your best bet is to search for answers online. Linux Academy is different. To provide the benefits of both in-person and self-paced online training, we host a vibrant user community where students can get support at any time. Our instructors actively participate in the community forums, checking in at least twice a day to answer student questions. Providing all of our students direct access to course instructors is just one of the ways we do things differently at Linux Academy.
The Linux Academy Content Standards
We took the IT e-learning industry by storm when we launched The Orion Papers, a series of interactive diagrams that we first developed for our AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam course. The Training Architect who created The Orion Papers, Tom Haslett — who is now our Vice President of Assessment and Curriculum Development — wanted to enhance our video content with more interactive training features.
We firmly believe that you can’t train engineers without real-world practice. The Orion Papers act as a bridge between our videos and Hands-On Labs. Instead of simply watching a video of PowerPoint slides(which, let’s be honest, can get boring), we introduced a split-screen setup and diagrams that you can interact with as you follow along. These diagrams let you see how cloud architectures are set up and include helpful explanations and example scenarios that bring our videos to life.
Example split-screen from an AWS course. On the left is the AWS console, and on the right is the interactive diagram that explains what you are building.
When we launched The Orion Papers, we had no idea how popular they would become with our students. Before we knew it, students were requesting these interactive diagrams for virtually all of our courses, and today, we’ve extended this feature to as many courses as possible due to popular demand.
To make this happen, we implemented new onboarding training to get our Training Architects up to speed on how to create this new kind of content. We also built a new content production pipeline with custom tooling that ensures all of our new interactive content meets our quality standards.
Interactive Diagrams are just one example of how we build unique, high-quality training content. We maintain similar standards for our Hands-On Labs, Quizzes & Practice Exams, Flash Cards, and more.
Rigorous Quality Assurance
To strengthen our standards, we also built a thorough quality assurance (QA) process. Once a Training Architect uploads content to our internal content creation system, it has to go through a series of reviews and approvals before our students ever see it. Here are just a few of the steps that the Linux Academy content you love has gone through to ensure quality:
As the name implies, peer review is the phase in which our Training Architects review each other’s content. They check the accuracy of the material, verify that the lab environments work, and look over anything else that needs review. If they notice anything that requires attention, they send the content back to the author for revisions.
This helps us catch issues, errors, or glitches that a non-expert most likely could not find.
We have a team of rockstar Technical Writers in our Product department. It may seem odd that they aren’t part of our Content team, but we assigned them to Product intentionally for two reasons:
It establishes checks and balances. While Content might have an important deadline to hit, the Product team’s top priority is to ensure quality. Our Tech Writers make sure we never cut corners.
The tech writing team can act as a cross-functional team, assisting other departments besides Content and ensuring quality in multiple company projects.
Our Tech Writers catch everything from spelling, grammar, and syntax errors, to any technical mistakes that weren’t caught in the peer review stage. They also bring a fresh perspective to content and suggest different ways of explaining concepts that may be easier to understand for non-experts. This second round of content review is an important step that all of our content goes through before it is approved for public release.
Head of Content Approval
As a final step before content can be published, it has to go through our Heads of Content: Tom Haslett (AWS and Google Cloud), and Terry Cox (Linux, DevOps, and Azure). Tom and Terry lead the teams of Training Architects that create content in these subjects, and they have to give final approval before new content can be released to students.
This final step gives us another opportunity to catch any mistakes that might have slipped through the previous steps. After three rounds of content review, we’re ready to release the new content.
While we could claim that we only release perfect content, there is no such thing. We’re only human! And no matter how factually and grammatically correct our content is, it’s always possible that a student won’t like the way a concept is explained or the way a lab is set up.
To give ourselves yet another opportunity to improve, we’ve implemented a rating system that students can use to score our content. Courses, video lessons, Practice Exams, Hands-On Labs, you name it — students can rate anything and everything we publish.
So what happens if a student finds a typo in a course video or a piece of outdated content that fell through the cracks of our content revision process? They can send us instant feedback, and within a matter of hours, our team will take action.
We also require our Training Architects to maintain the highest possible content ratings. If a piece of content dips below a 95% rating, it automatically gets pulled from production and requires immediate attention before it can be re-published.
It Doesn’t End There
Building great content is hard, but we have a lot of practice! We’ve been doing this since 2012 when Linux and cloud training wasn’t even a thing. Since then, we’ve dedicated ourselves to pushing the boundaries of online learning, and we’d love to help you and your team turn your cloud skills into a strength.