Using LifterLMS to Empower 1 Million Teachers in Africa with WordPress Titan Malcolm Peralty

45:20
 
分享
 

Manage episode 279713723 series 2284198
由Player FM以及我们的用户群所搜索的By WordPress LMS Elearning Expert Chris Badgett and Entrepreneur & Online Marketing Business Strategy Expert Chris Badgett on Teaching, Education, WordPress Development & Online Business., By WordPress LMS Elearning Expert Chris Badgett, Online Marketing Business Strategy Expert Chris Badgett on Teaching, WordPress Development, and Online Business. — 版权由出版商所拥有,而不是Player FM,音频直接从出版商的伺服器串流. 点击订阅按钮以查看Player FM更新,或粘贴收取点链接到其他播客应用程序里。

Learn about how one company is using LifterLMS to empower 1 million teachers in Africa with WordPress Titan Malcolm Peralty in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. Malcolm is the founder of a WordPress agency called PressTitan, and they’re currently working on a project right now called 1 Million Teachers. In this episode, Chris and Malcolm talk about what it takes to run the WordPress agency side of things, and how Malcolm’s experience with 1 Million Teachers is helping change the lives of a quickly growing population in Africa by empowering teachers.

1 Million Teachers is a long-term idea from Hakeem Subair and Rizma Butt. They’ve been working on the idea that UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) has been reporting huge shortages of the number of teachers needed in the continent of Africa and all over the world in Second World countries. They estimate they’ll need about 17 million more primary and secondary school teachers in Africa by 2030 and 69 million additional teachers worldwide by 2030, so this shortage has inspired the founders of 1 Million Teachers to work to figure out a solution.

Malcolm shares how originally when they started the project, Hakeem thought they would be going directly to students, but what the schools really need and are lacking is the teaching and leadership staff to help students learn. So he decided to pivot and focus on an eLearning platform to help aspiring teachers get on their feet and grow into that role in places where they’re needed.

Using LifterLMS to empower 1 million teachers in Africa with WordPress Titan Malcolm Peralty

A couple of years of out college (about 17 years ago), Malcolm was trying to write his own CRM, and he found WordPress was an easy to use CRM that had the core components he needed and is something he could build on top of. And that’s what he ended up using to start his WordPress agency PressTitan where he helps people manage the tech side of their WordPress site, so they can focus on other parts of their companies.

To learn more about Malcolm Peralty, be sure to check out PressTitan.com, and the project he and Chris talk about in this episode 1 Million Teachers can be found at 1MillionTeachers.com. You can also connect with Malcolm on Twitter at @FindPurpose, or you can email him.

At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett:

You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett:

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. Today I’m joined by a special guest, Malcolm Peralty. He’s from PressTitan, which is an agency, and he did a project and is actively working on a project right now called 1 Million Teachers. You can find that at 1millionteachers.com; that’s starting with the number one. Malcolm, welcome to the show.

Malcolm Peralty:

Thank you so much for having me.

Chris Badgett:

I’m really excited again to get into it with another WordPress professional. Let’s start at 1 Million Teachers. What is it?

Malcolm Peralty:

So 1 Million Teachers is the long-term idea from Hakeem Subair and Rizma Butt and they have been working on this idea that UNESCO has been reporting huge shortages in the number of teachers that are needed in the continent of Africa and really kind of all the second third world countries as many as like 17 million more primary and secondary teachers in Africa by 2030 and like 69 million additional teachers worldwide by 2030.

Malcolm Peralty:

And originally when he was going to start this project of teaching, he thought he was going to go direct to students, because that’s really kind of a common theme that you’ll see in a lot of startup companies. “Let’s go to the students. Let’s teach the students. Let’s give them more tools.” And what he realized was all these schools that were being built and all these students that were looking to learn were lacking kind of the teachers, the leaders in education in these countries, and so he had to pivot, right? He said, “Well, I’m not going to basically give more resources to students because that’s really being taken care of by a whole wide gamut of different startups and companies out there.”

Malcolm Peralty:

And he pivoted to teachers and has really been focusing on that and building up E-learning platform to kind of help teachers or people who want to become a teacher get their feet wet and grow that in terms of the way that it’s viewed in Africa. Typically, in a lot of African countries, being a teacher is actually kind of viewed very poorly. It’s not a high- or mid-tier career. It’s really kind of like if you have nothing else to do, you might as well teach the local kids. And so, he’s helping transition that as well to make it kind of more of a well-thought out career.

Chris Badgett:

What is the reason for the shortage and projected future shortages? Is it that teaching job is low status or what else is going on to contribute to the shortage factor?

Malcolm Peralty:

Sure. So, the shortage factor comes from a couple of different things. One, it comes from the fact that it is kind of considered a low status job. Two, the resources to train these people just aren’t there. You’re not going to travel to a big metropolitan area that you can’t afford to learn how to become a teacher, so you can go back to a rural area and kind of scrape by an existence. And three, I mean, Africa is going to see the largest population boom of anywhere in the world over the next 10 to 20 years because just as every country has, as they become more modern, more advanced, better healthcare systems, they’re able to have better survivability rates and the birth rate starts to drop, but there’s this little period of time where these families are having five or six kids and all of them survive in adulthood. So, the population is going to go kaboom, just like it has in India and other places, and so that’s going to lead to a major shortage.

Chris Badgett:

Wow. So, what did your agency PressTitan do for 1 Million Teachers?

Malcolm Peralty:

So, they were using a hosted LMS solution, iSpring LMS, and they were using the iSpring Suite and they found it very easy to kind of create content and publish content, but the problem was you’re working in Africa. And so they were looking for $2 per seat, so even if someone just logged in for five minutes that was $2 U.S. gone from their budget. And when you extrapolate that, when you’re trying to get to a million teachers and your monthly concurrency might be as much as like 200,000, 300,000, having a budget of over a million dollars for that kind of environment just wasn’t making sense for them anymore.

Malcolm Peralty:

And so as they scale, they started to realize that, “This is just costing us more and more money and we’re not getting the benefit that we need from this.” So they said, “Well, how can we get out from under this? How can we kind of control our own environment and kind of control our own destiny in that sense? And how can we kind of scale to the point where we have these optimizations in our technology that lets us have those cost savings to kind of keep that balance sheet working?”

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. And this is very much a WordPress story because in WordPress, we’re trying to democratize everything, like the mission of WordPress was to democratize publishing then later democratize publishing and development, which allowed companies like ours LifterLMS to develop software that other people could use with WordPress and then our mission is to democratize learning in the digital classroom.

Chris Badgett:

And what you talked about there, I totally understand it as a software company. Oftentimes, they have what’s called metered pricing or certain value metrics, whether that’s number of seats, email list size, amount of money flowing through the system. Whatever it is, they put these meter checkpoints in there, so that as the site becomes more successful, the cost goes up, which is called value-based pricing, and I don’t fault them for it…

Malcolm Peralty:

Of course. No, and-

Chris Badgett:

… but it doesn’t work for every model.

Malcolm Peralty:

Right and it totally makes sense for the corporate training and things like that where $2 a seat is a drop in the bucket in terms of your training budget, but when you’re talking about needing to get to a point where it’s like $2 a year to teach a teacher in terms of direct technology costs, because there’s so many other costs that go along with this program, yeah, it was just untenable. They just could not do $2 a seat per month to make this work.

Chris Badgett:

Is 1 Million Teachers a nonprofit or a for-profit business?

Malcolm Peralty:

It’s a for-profit company. So, Hakeem struggled with that a lot at the start determining whether he wanted to kind of go in that nonprofit or for-profit route. He had worked with nonprofits previously and seeing just how much time the executive team had to spend on kind of chasing that funding and he really wanted to create a situation where there was a direct connection between the funds and the people learning. So, a lot of the funding right now comes directly from kind of local governments or local school organizations, things like that, who are wanting to kind of elevate their teachers’ education or to expand them teachers in their country. and he loves that kind of more direct model.

Malcolm Peralty:

As he’s growing, he’s finding that difficult, right? These conversations with government, whether they’re for-profit or nonprofit, take a very, very long time, much longer than I think anyone ever intended on both sides of that conversation, so, it’s a struggle and no matter which method you take. And I think for him for-profit just seemed like an opportunity to make sure that as the company grows, he had an easy way of putting funds aside and knowing that he didn’t have to go through kind of a bunch of hoops to make that happen, so that he could on the lean times have something easily to draw from without the extra paperwork that goes along with it.

Chris Badgett:

That makes a lot of sense. Now, how did you connect with the 1 Million Teachers Project?

Malcolm Peralty:

So, I had just moved to Kingston, Ontario in Canada and found a job with a startup accelerator style thing called Innovate Kingston. There’s a real chicken and egg problem in Kingston. We have a huge brain drain here. We’re kind of sitting between two major metropolitan areas, and so everyone graduating from the college university environment that we have here, it’s a very college university town, they all leave. As soon as they’re done, they go to the one of the big cities, they make the big bucks, they never come back until they’re ready to retire. And so that was a huge problem in Kingston that they really wanted to address and so they came up with this idea that we’re going to do this breakout project.

Malcolm Peralty:

So, the initial idea was that they were going to hold it at a shutdown prison, that wasn’t allowed. So, we held it at a heritage site here in Kingston, an old fort, Fort Henry and we basically locked them in rooms for 48 hours and livestreamed them going kind of from idea to execution on their startup ideas. We had about eight different startup companies come and volunteer for this. I was responsible for the technology side, so making sure the streaming was working, making sure the internet was working, making sure the website was working. I tell you, getting all that technology working in a completely brick old fort was not easy or fun. Wireless internet does not go very far through foot-thick bricks, it just doesn’t, especially when they’re reinforced with a bunch of metal. So, it was a challenge.

Malcolm Peralty:

And I got talking to Hakeem and he just this charismatic vibe to the guy, right? He really, truly believes that what he is doing is a righteous cause, but he doesn’t come off as like very preachy about it. He’s just very hopeful and so you can’t help, but like the guy and I spent more and more time talking to him. I started helping volunteer on kind of some of their marketing website stuff, lending my expertise in WordPress where I could and helping. My sister-in-law is a teacher, so she would kind of look over and make sure that some of the initial early content made sense from a pedagogy, like a modern teaching style, that it made sense with kind of North American Standard. Because I mean, you can throw any content at people to learn, but they wanted to make sure it was top tier content that they were learning from.

Malcolm Peralty:

And so I just kind of got integrated with him more and more over time and eventually, when they realized that they reached the point that iSpring just wasn’t going to work for them, he contacted me and said, “Look. If you were to build a hosted LMS solution for us, what would that cost?” I said, “Well, it’s not a per-seek cost issue.” Like in terms of technology, I don’t care how many people you have on the platform, what I care is, how many concurrent people you have on the platform. And so that’s what we really kind of built it around and the pricing just scaled so much better for them.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Can you explain for somebody who’s not aware of the startup ecosystem or whatever, what an accelerator is just like at base level? Why do these things exist?

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah. So, I mean, the big advantage of doing an accelerator and actually 1 Million Teachers is going to go through another one very shortly. I’m going to visit South Africa. Go with them, hopefully, if everything goes well with COVID not going nuts. I’m going to go to South Africa and Cape Town, and they’re doing Injini, which is a startup accelerator specifically for technology education companies in Africa and the focus is really connections, funding exposure, right?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Malcolm Peralty:

And that’s really the focus of almost any accelerator, kind of making sure that the founders have some business acumen, have the understanding of how to run this thing. Are they actually going to be able to leverage this idea and turn it into a real business? Sometimes you get the opportunity of investment, so whether it’s VC Angel or whatnot, but the big thing is kind of that opportunity for exposure, really. They want this opportunity. Injini is lining up meetings. When we were here in Kingston, we had the media come and interview Hakeem and we had local businesses come and talk to them and see how they could help out and really just those connections, probably saved him at least a year of work and hopefully this Injini one will save him like another year of work, right? If he had to put his own boots on the ground and find these connections, it would take a lot longer.

Malcolm Peralty:

So, it really just helps like founder type people accelerate in lots of different ways, whether that’s connecting to other founder’s ideas, moving from idea to implementation, getting financing potentially or network shopping. It’s awesome. It’s a cool concept. I’m a big mastermind person. But accelerators are kind of similar, like it’s an intense short period of time designed to not just have a linear result, but really get more progress.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, build that hockey stick, right?

Malcolm Peralty:

Exactly.

Chris Badgett:

And speaking of the hockey stick, that’s what I wanted to ask you next. A lot of startup and website stuff is all about the money like helping a business grow, accelerate, get more leads, get more sales, get more clients, get more customers, but there’s this other side to entrepreneurship, which is all about impact and a founder you mentioned Hakeem, is that his name?

Malcolm Peralty:

That’s correct. Yep.

Chris Badgett:

Hakeem is like a visionary-type person and has a big vision and wants to create this big impact in the world and work on these big problems. What’s it like, since you’ve been in business for a while yourself and working with clients and whatnot, how is working with somebody who has a vision or an impact first, income second versus the other way around? What’s it like?

Malcolm Peralty:

For me, frustrating, immensely frustrating. It’s so funny, right? When my wife and I talk about Elon Musk, for example, idolize what he’s able to do and the type of guy that he is, but I would never want to work for the guy, and-

Chris Badgett:

Why do you say that?

Malcolm Peralty:

Because he’s the kind of guy who sleeps on his warehouse floor as he’s trying to get cars built, right? He’s not the kind of guy who’s living in his mansion, drinking Daiquiris, watching TV on his big screen. He’s there getting his hands dirty. And Hakeem is the same way and it can be frustrating sometimes because he has these grand ideas and you can’t help, but want him to succeed. But the flip side is, I mean, I don’t want to eat ramen for the rest of my life, right?

Chris Badgett:

Right.

Malcolm Peralty:

Or until it does the hockey stick effect, and so that can be kind of hard. Where he’s very much like, “I’ll sleep in my car. I’ll do anything it takes to make this happen. I’ll beg, borrow, and hopefully not steal to make this happen.” And it’s amazing that he has the fortitude like I mean, it’s been almost three years now of him doing this and trying to grow this and finally some of the deals that he started almost three years ago are actually coming to fruition, but it’s been a grind. And just watching the endless optimism, the endless hope in his eyes and trying to find every dollar he can to make this happen, has its both scary and inspiring as someone watching somewhat from outside, but still connected to it.

Malcolm Peralty:

I love his passion. I love his drive. I hope to feel that way about something someday, but not so much that it consumes me, I guess would be the way that I put it, but I love it. I’m so glad that he’s the one doing it and I’m so happy to see that some of these things that he put in place a long ago are actually starting to pay dividends.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that’s awesome. I think that like when sometimes there’s this perfect mix between for-profit business and visionary impact and sometimes you see there are unicorns out there that combine it, but often I see like a partnership, like a business partnership where the two sides kind of work together and oftentimes the visionaries the one out in the public eye, but then the integrator sometimes they’re called, there’s a book by Gino Wickman called Traction where he talks about this dynamic, that can be quite powerful if the forces are combined to bring in like business realism and operations with visionary “sleep on the floor” passion.

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah. I mean, he comes from a banking background, so he has a very strong sense of the monetary side of this whole situation and so, it is always there. I guess he has the ability to kind of not let it chain him down, not let him slow him down, right? He sees these numbers and they’re chasing him and he knows they’re there, but he’s really kind of looking to the future and trying to make things happen. Also, he has a great partner in Rizma, but she did the same Masters of Innovation Program at Queen’s University, and she’s very much kind of the little angel on his shoulder, so to speak, saying, “Look. You have to be careful of this. You have to be aware of this. You have to think through these things because they’re very important, but don’t.” She didn’t ever stifle his optimism and his energy.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, let’s talk about your energy. What is your WordPress story? You’ve obviously grown to a point where you have an agency and you’re doing big projects. Where’s your WordPress origin story at?

Malcolm Peralty:

So, I mean, it starts back like 17 years ago.

Chris Badgett:

Wow.

Malcolm Peralty:

So, yeah, I’m one of the old guards, so to speak. I don’t think there’s very many people in Canada that started actively using WordPress for business purposes before I did. I started with WordPress 0.72.

Chris Badgett:

Wow.

Malcolm Peralty:

At that time, I was a couple years out of college. I was trying to write my own-

Chris Badgett:

What year were you out here?

Malcolm Peralty:

Oh, I don’t want to say. At that time, I was trying to build my own PHP content management system and very quickly, I realized-

Chris Badgett:

That’s what I hear the old guard say, is like, “I was building my own CMS, and then I found [crosstalk 00:17:44].”

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah, I was like, okay. I started mapping out how long it was going to take me to build all these different components that I wanted and I didn’t want just something that was like a database, like a crud system where I could access this ugly database thing and be able to publish content. I wanted something that was usable and that worked well for me, right? And so, I spent probably about 60, 80 hours on it and said, “Okay, I’m only like 2% of the way through where I want to be, is there anything on the market that could do 80% of where I want to be?”

Malcolm Peralty:

And I stumbled into WordPress, and not long after I found it, a bunch of the sites that I had been reading, were being bought up by this company, Forever Geek and CSS Vault and BloggingPro, and BloggingPro, actually, at that time was part of the WordPress news dashboard. So, if you ever go to your like dashboard page and you see the latest news from the latest, like from the blogs that have been kind of selected as news blogs, BloggingPro as part of that, and it was brought up. And I was like, “Okay, this is weird.” The same guy is buying up all of my favorite sites, right? A technology site, a design site, a WordPress, like, I mean-

Chris Badgett:

Who was that?

Malcolm Peralty:

So, Jacob Gower, he was just like a year out of college and he was like, “Blogging is going to be the next big thing.” And so he like basically borrowed all the money he could get a hand-on and bought all of these big brands, right?

Chris Badgett:

Wow.

Malcolm Peralty:

And so, me being me, I had to know more about this guy. “What’s he going do with my site?” So I reached out, I said, “Hey, can I interview you about your purchases for my personal blog?” Because everyone wants to be interviewed for their personal blog, right? And he was like, “Sure. Why not, right?” So I asked him, basically, “What are you going to do with these sites?” And he turned it around on me and said, “Well, how would you like to write on them?” And so I actually was writing part-time for Darren Rowse on his laptop blog. So, if you don’t know, that’s problogger.com or [crosstalk 00:19:37].

Chris Badgett:

And Darren Rowse, also, correct me if I’m wrong, but he did a lot in the photography niche, right?

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah, and he still does. He still owns a nice photography blog, but back then, he was writing about like how to become a full-time blogger, but also he had 20 different sub niches that he was doing, like a blog about the latest printers and laptops and cameras and all these product things, like it was an Amazon Play, really.

Chris Badgett:

[crosstalk 00:20:00].

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah, yeah. So, while he was on vacation, I got to write on that site and he offered me a part time job, and Jacob offered me a part-time job, but when Jacob found out that Darren offered me a part-time job, I ended up as a full-time blogger for my favorite sites, which was just amazing, and-

Chris Badgett:

How long did you stay doing that?

Malcolm Peralty:

So, that was for about two years and then those sites got acquired by a bigger company, and then I got acquired as part of that deal and got to continue to work on them and a bunch of other sites for another year, and so I was a full time blogger for like three years. When I started, I was making like $3 an hour. Yeah. But yeah, so and then since then, I just slowly have transitioned into doing kind of a little bit of technology and a little bit of marketing. I mean, I was updating, before WordPress had built in updating for core versions or releases, you had to manually update WordPress. And I was working on a network of over 100 blogs and the last thing I wanted to do as the person required to upgrade those, was to manually upgrade all 100 sites.

Malcolm Peralty:

So, I actually created a Bash script and a coding script to be able to pull down the latest version and upgrade these sites and I just put it on all the servers and had it do it for me. And I was able to upgrade like 100 blogs in like five minutes. And, yeah, it felt really good to kind of continue to keep that balance of understanding what was happening in technology, understanding what’s happening in online marketing and blogging, and my career just kind of kept on growing in that direction until I got to where I am today.

Chris Badgett:

Where did the transition happen from blogger to freelancer or agency-person type thing? Like what’s that part about?

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah. One of the things that I’ve realized about myself is that I don’t do my best work on my own, so I tried a few times to start my own company by myself and try to make a go of it, and I do much better as part of a group.

Chris Badgett:

Yep. That’s a reality I think people realize. Like, it sounds great, yeah, laptop on the hammock on the beach, I could live anywhere, I’m good, but people have been at it awhile, like it’s a little lonely road out there.

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah. And I find that for me, whether I succeed or fail on my own merit doesn’t really give that fire the same way that knowing that you have someone doing the same on their side and you’re trying to make sure that they have a successful life and a successful business and vice versa. That just I find fine, like gives me so much energy and drive to be able to kind of focus in a way that no other situation does. But I had worked for 10up, which is one of the larger agencies back when it was only like 75 people. It’s now over I think like 200 or 250 people.

Malcolm Peralty:

And I got to work on some amazing projects and being a project manager and learning from like scrum masters and waterfall experts and really kind of understanding project management, started to help me hone in that control that I needed, that understanding of how to build processes and how to execute on visions over a longer period of time, because I’m very, I don’t want to say ADD, because that’s not a true representation, but I have a hard time sticking to a project for a long period of time and being able to better break down those projects and understand that about myself has been able to allow me to successfully transition into this role.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. And what’s your strength, like on the development side like the client management, the project management? Are you like more multidimensional or what?

Malcolm Peralty:

So, I mean, I fought being a specialist for my entire career. I don’t, I hate the idea of being like pigeonholed into one thing, but David Krug, my co-founder, he definitely sticks more towards kind of the business outreach and execution and things like that, and I definitely stick more to the technical side. I would never say that I’m a developer, but I ended up modifying the heck out of plugins and themes and code that other people write and making it kind of work the way I needed to, but I would never ever say that I’m a developer or a designer or any of those things. I’m just very fortunate that I have enough of, a wide enough variety of skills that I’m useful in a wide variety of situations.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, yeah. I call that being T-shaped. I mean, you maybe had one thing you’re really good at, but when you can kind of cover the bases across being a hipster, a hacker and a hustle or however you want to describe it, it’s very valuable to be well-rounded in that way. What is a piece of advice you have for freelancers or agency owners just in terms of sometimes you look at a big company like 10up, a crowd favorite web dev studios, Enterprise WordPress, like what are the big differences between big enterprise projects and more regular small business midmarket projects? Bearing in mind, small businesses can have up to 100 employees. It can be quite large companies, but in it like doing something for an enterprise is like a whole other category. What’s the reality of the two worlds?

Malcolm Peralty:

For me, the transition was actually very difficult because I’m used to working with organizations that have no money and no timelines, right? They’re trying to hustle, trying to get blood from a stone as much as they can, right?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Malcolm Peralty:

And so when I was working for 10up, here I’m dealing with multimillion dollar budgets and timescales in the year-, two-year kind of range.

Chris Badgett:

Wow.

Malcolm Peralty:

And so that was a completely different experience. Also, the scale of the team becomes very different. So, right now for PressTitan, we have myself, Krug, and another full-timer, and then we have a couple of part-timers and a couple of freelancers and other companies that we kind of leverage and use to kind of give us lift in the areas that we need when the client requests it. But with 10up, they have everyone, right? I was working on teams of 12 to 15 people spread across the world.

Malcolm Peralty:

I had one team that I was working on, I had a resource in California, in Florida, in Germany, in South Africa and in India, and I had to do standups and reporting and all these things, right? And I think the biggest change is where I was used to no budget, I still kind of had to deal with that aspect of no budget, because time is such an important metric, value for time no matter what size company you work with. So, even these big enterprise companies where people talk about, “Oh, they waste whatever on like golden toilet seats and stuff like that.”

Malcolm Peralty:

No, no. I can tell you right now, some of the big companies that I work with are some of the tightest penny pinchers you’ll ever meet in terms of time to value, but I think the biggest adjustment was really the time scale, right? Understanding that, the complexity of the things that you’re doing are going to require a lot longer time and, while it’s easy to kind of set up a project like on Jira or Basecamp, or one of the tools, managing it for an extended period of time and not letting it become this horrible spaghetti trashcan, a dumpster fire of a project, it can be exhausting, and people don’t realize how much time it takes to kind of keep that together in a cohesive way for a group of 12 people.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. Project management is a real deal skill, and I know what you mean as the scale and the timeline gets bigger that even more important, one little mistake or scope creep thing can really get out of hand quickly.

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah. I mean, 2% of a change in a month doesn’t seem like very much time, but 2% change over the course of two years is a huge amount of time, right?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that’s a great point. Well, what’s next for 1 Million Teachers? What’s coming next?

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah. So, like I said, they’re going to do the startup accelerator in South Africa. They’ve also been invited to some other events in Africa. They’re going to the International Information and Communications Technology Conference in Uganda in March. They’re really trying to kind of, both in Africa and the rest of the world, find the right corporate sponsorships to kind of make this go to that next level. The name kind of gives you an idea of what their initial goal is. They want to train 1 million teachers in second and third world countries, right? Right now, they have a little over like 3,500 people on the platform, which in the scale of an LMS system, it’s not too bad.

Malcolm Peralty:

A lot of people talk about LMS systems in the 1:5,000 people range, so the fact that they have 3500 is great, but that’s a long way away from their 1 million goal and they’ve already started planning beyond that, right? 1 million teachers plus, right? They’re talking about how can they get to two or three or four million teachers, and with every teacher kind of affecting the lives of upwards, around 300 students that’s a huge impact that they could have there. So right now, they’re trying to figure out how they can get the financing to do that because it requires a big team to do this, right?

Malcolm Peralty:

So, they have this Fort of Queen’s University, which is great. It’s a top-tier University in Canada. They’re helping make sure that the content stays at a very high standard. They’re even talking about Queen’s University giving certificates for teaching with the Queen’s University stamp embossment and stuff on them, so the partnership with a university in Canada is a great thing for them but they’d love to expand that into other colleges and universities around the world, so that these teachers can really kind of get the education that they need to really make their mark on this country.

Malcolm Peralty:

And, yeah, I mean, in terms of the technology side, they’re trying to figure out how they can kind of do this in a cost effective way, in a world where I mean, they’re not going to have DSL or cable internet to their home or fiber to their home, right? They have cellular internet connections and even then, sometimes only when they go for hours to a local village or city to actually get that connection and connect with their friends and family.

Malcolm Peralty:

So, 1 Million Teachers is trying to figure out how they’re going to have an offline smartphone education app using kind of WordPress LifterLMS and kind of the xAPI content that’s in, oh my God, what is it called? Learning Locker? Learning Locker? Thank you. Yeah, the LRS system, which is holding all the xAPI data of how these people are doing. So, that’s going to be a big technical hurdle. And also, the servers that we’re using are all actually in Germany right now, because the server infrastructure in Africa is just horrid, right? If we put a server in Nigeria, it might have a nice tier two connection in Nigeria, but the costs are higher than Germany, the latency for some reason from South Africa to Nigeria is higher than that. So, finding all these technical inroads has been very difficult.

Malcolm Peralty:

I mean, I think we’re all hoping that something like Starlink with the worldwide internet will be a great opportunity, but will it be beneficial to such low-income areas like Africa, it’s yet to be seen, right? So, a lot of the offline educational aspect is probably going to be the biggest pivot point and the biggest change in terms of technology that needs to happen to women and teachers and they need the money to get there.

Chris Badgett:

That’s a real innovation area. I call it portable content, like really solving the portable content situation in a learning context, which can be more complex than a music track or an audio book and podcasts, like these are portable content types. But in the learning space, we have like progress tracking and other kind of two-way sync demand that there’s just a lot of room for innovation in that department, so it’s cool to-

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah, of course. And the big issue is like even some of the big players in the space don’t have it correct, right? Like Duolingo is a great example. They can’t do proper offline content yet and they’re one of the biggest language educational tools that exist right now on smartphones. So, it’s a difficult challenge and it’s going to require some funding to really make it happen.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. I know, we’ll put a link in the show notes below this episode where I did an interview with Sheryle Gillihan from CauseLabs, and they were doing a workforce empowerment thing in Africa. And one of the ways they were working on this issue was a lot of their content, training content was text-based intentionally even though like video is so popular now and everything, but just to make it on a weak cellular connection, downloadable, and just low bandwidth requirements to get to the actual training. So, it’s an interesting challenge especially in-

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah, it is an interesting challenge. So like, for example, the training content on 1 Million Teachers is using like xAPI tin can content used to use SCORM content and it’s basically like a slideshow for those that don’t know and it has audio as well that goes with it because they felt like the two tier approach of having both the visual and the audio would be more impactful and more powerful. Trying to compress the audio enough that it’s small enough, but also still keep the quality high enough that it doesn’t sound like someone’s playing a record player from the 1920s, it’s been an interesting challenge as well, right? Not being able to include video or animations to really kind of prove a point has been interesting, so we have to use multiple slides and multiple images to kind of convey the same message.

Malcolm Peralty:

So, working around those bandwidth constraints have definitely been a major challenge for them. And they’re talking about how long-term if they can really get some decent funding, how they could set up kind of learning centers in Africa specifically for this right? How can they get potential teachers to come to these places and have, maybe if there is an offline mode, place to download their next group of content or if there isn’t, can they come there and if they don’t have a device, borrow a device and start learning, right? So, there is a whole non-digital aspect to this that has to still happen because of the technological constraints in Africa.

Chris Badgett:

I think that’s really smart. I call that clicks and bricks. Sometimes a solution to a learning problem or training opportunity combines in-person classrooms or like you’re saying a hub for people to go to, to get the big download, and then take it out back to the more rural, less connected area. That’s a visionary entrepreneur way of thinking to solve the problem. It’s not just about, “Here’s my product. It’s like, “How do I work within the constraints and solve this for 1 Million Teachers who have these challenges?”

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah, and working with them on it. I mean, your brain starts to explode with the different pathways and potentials that are available. I would love to just do like 100 or 1000 per country of these little 3G base stations where one of my teacher has the funding to pay for the data connection and everyone just kind of connects to their local station and gets what they need or like we started researching like high power wireless, and what that looks like, right? How much point-to-point high power wireless is there for the villages in Africa and what does that look like and what does it cost? Are there lower cost solutions that we can direct internet to these locations? So, never thought I’d be working with that kind of stuff, but it’s certainly interesting.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. It just popped into my head, like some of these challenges exists, even in the United States and in Canada, like I’m thinking about Alaska. I’ve spent a lot of time there in rural villages and they’ve got internet, they’ve got some things figured out even with no roads coming in and stuff like that, so I mean-

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah. A lot of the technology exists. It’s just, it’s really a cost issue, right?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Malcolm Peralty:

So like places in Africa can probably afford 20 grand for a long distance wireless tower, a village in Africa would only go for 10% of that, right? And so then it’s like how much corporate sponsorship with 1 Million Teachers need to do it themselves versus how much they could actually get from the different communities and countries that exists there and then kind of what’s the cost to benefit ratio on that? As much as it’s a for-profit company, Hakeem is not the kind of guy who’s looking to kind of get rich and if he ends up rich it’ll be like I mentioned earlier, a very Elon Musk kind of rich where he’ll be out in Africa setting up that last tower and trying to make sure just one more village has access.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that’s awesome. My heart goes out to the visionary entrepreneur like that. Tell us about like when you were shopping around for WordPress LMS tools, like why did you choose Lifter? What was going on at that part of your journey of like, “All right. I’m working for this project 1 Million Teacher, what can I do in WordPress?” or first, why WordPress and then second, how’d you decide on Lifter?

Malcolm Peralty:

Well, I mean sometimes for me WordPress becomes a little bit the hammer, so to speak, everything becomes a nail. I can’t help it, but want to use WordPress because I’m so deep in understanding. I’ve been able to manipulate it to do all kinds of wonderful things. At one point in my career, I worked with Rocketgenius, who made Gravity Forms, and so I have a real good insight on how to kind of you do different kinds of data collection using Gravity Forms that some people wouldn’t think, “Oh, that’s Gravity Forms, like that doesn’t make sense to me, because you can use it for any kind of user input,” right?

Chris Badgett:

I figured that out later in my career. I was like, “Oh, the websites are really just forms.”

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah. There’s parts of that that you can use and collect data from and then, there’s different add-ons you can use to display that data. You can like replace a commenting system with Gravity Forms if you really wanted to. I don’t recommend it, but you could, right?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Malcolm Peralty:

And so, when Hakeem came to me and said, “Look, I really want to do this with you. I really want you to make this happen. What would it cost and how would it look?” One of their criteria was that they didn’t know what their future needs were going to be and they didn’t want to be nickeled and dimed. So, they wanted something that they could just basically pay once for and know they had like basically every feature that they would ever require in the future, whether they knew it or not. So, that instantly crossed off like basically all of the ones that exist in kind of the WordPress space.

Malcolm Peralty:

I didn’t look at non-WordPress solutions as well, but I came across a very similar problem to the iSpring model, which is none of them are really designed for the kind of scale that 1 Million Teachers is going to do. I’m sure, they would privately say, “Hey, yeah, we’ll take that business,” but they’re going to charge probably five to 10 x, what we’ve shown that we could potentially do with scaling our own environment instead. So, the cost becomes prohibitive again and then it’s not worth it.

Malcolm Peralty:

And then the other side, of course, was they really wanted to be able to kind of take their SCORM content and very quickly and easily be able to drop it into a new solution. So yes, we’ve had to transition it all from SCORM content to xAPI content, but that transition has been relatively easy, thanks to Articulate and we’re basically almost done that content transition and getting it all into the platform. So, a lot of quick requirements that really limited our choices and what was available.

Malcolm Peralty:

And then, I mean, the other big thing is I wanted and Hakeem wanted a face, right? He wanted to be able to point to a person and say, ‘You there, you’re the reason this isn’t working. Why not? Or you here, like, where’s this feature and why isn’t it doing what we want to do?” And no offense, but you’ve kind of put yourself as that face in a lot of ways, right? You’re out there in the community and the WordPress community saying like, “I’m doing this thing.” I’m like mostly other LMS providers in the WordPress space or out of the WordPress space. There’s very few faces where you can point to and say like, “He’s put himself in the community. He’s put himself as a point of contact. He’s let it be known that he’s available.”

Malcolm Peralty:

And you’ve done that and sorry about your luck in a way, right? You’ve kind of put the rope around your own neck in that way, where when things come up, I reach out and I feel like I’m going to get an answer and I know that I don’t that there’s a point or person of escalation, not that that’s ever been an issue. I mean, the few times I’ve needed, your support team has been absolutely amazing especially, like continuing to follow up after the fact even when I’ve gone on and done something else. But yeah, like, “Yeah, so we can see that you fixed the problem.” I’m like, “Oh, yeah, I can tell them that, right? My gosh.”

Malcolm Peralty:

So, yeah. As much as the industry has many options and choices, a lot of them are very much the same and a lot of them were pretty quickly scratched off the list. So, we felt really lucky that there was still an option available that would meet all these different constraints.

Chris Badgett:

Well, I appreciate that. And over at LifterLMS, one of our things is like we don’t hide behind the website, where people, I mean, that’s not a dig at anybody.

Malcolm Peralty:

No.

Chris Badgett:

I mean, we’ve all had software tools that we use and you can’t find the phone number or you can’t like [crosstalk 00:40:57].

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah. None of us are calling up Microsoft to get whoever’s running Microsoft these days.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, so we’ve just wanted to do things differently and we also acknowledge that it’s a platform. I mean, sort of like WooCommerce, eCommerce is a platform. It’s complicated. People are going to have a lot of questions. They’re going to want to customize and leverage the incredible network of WordPress, so every question coming in is going to require some creative problem solving, so we just want to embrace that not like put up a wall to try to block that.

Malcolm Peralty:

I will say that having experienced in WooCommerce made my learning curve for LifterLMS shorter.

Chris Badgett:

That’s the point.

Malcolm Peralty:

And I think that’s just from more of a technical side, not from a user side because I understood kind of how things were running in the background, how things were performing, and what to look out for in terms of like caching and object caching and things like that. So, if you’re getting into this space, if you’re a young person or an old person getting in kind of the LifterLMS space, if you have experience in WooCommerce, you’re going to find the transition even easier.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. What’s the perfect client for PressTitan?

Malcolm Peralty:

I would say the perfect client for PressTitan is one that just really does not want to deal with technology. They don’t even want to see a dashboard or know what a database is or care about what DNS is or any of those things, right? If the idea of the most you want to do is log into WordPress and update some content, that’s the kind of client we want. We are trying to help businesses that really just want to focus on their business, they don’t want to focus on technology. It’s “I don’t the mechanical stuff on my car, I bring it to a mechanic because I shouldn’t have to know all the ins and outs of a car. That’s why mechanics have studied to become mechanics.” And so, the clients that we work best with are the clients that realize like we’ve spent these decades learning technology, so that you really don’t have to. Focus on growing your business, trust us to take care of that, and those relationships have been working really well. A lot of our clients have been through referral because of that and I really enjoy that.

Malcolm Peralty:

And the second part of that is, ideally, we’re looking for people that are trying to grow their business, through technology, through technical SEO, through SEO in general, through content, through marketing and they are kind of planning in their mind for like a five-year time horizon to kind of almost graduate from PressTitan, right? Like, we want to get women and teachers to the point where they can hire their own IT team-

Chris Badgett:

Internally.

Malcolm Peralty:

They don’t really you don’t really need us anymore and have graduated from us, and that to us is a success.

Chris Badgett:

Man, I love the clarity of the vision and the power of having a technology partner, I think you said 17 years in WordPress?

Malcolm Peralty:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Badgett:

A long time like-

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

When you leverage a technology partner like that has been around the block and you have this big mission and vision and you’re trying to make this big impact in the world. Like it’s about the team more than like you just getting the tools and learning it all yourself.

Malcolm Peralty:

Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

Awesome. Malcolm Peralty. He’s at presstitan.com. The project we were talking about is called 1 Million Teachers, that’s the number 1millionteachers.com. Anywhere else, the good people of the internet can connect with you, Malcolm?

Malcolm Peralty:

The other best way would be on Twitter, which is @ find purpose, which I mean, come on, that’s a good tweet handle right? And I mean, feel free to email me anytime, malcolm@presstitan.com. I don’t hide either, I’m out there.

Chris Badgett:

Thanks. Well, awesome, Malcolm. Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your story with us.

Malcolm Peralty:

Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Chris Badgett:

And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life. Head on over to lifterlms.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results getting courses on the internet.

The post Using LifterLMS to Empower 1 Million Teachers in Africa with WordPress Titan Malcolm Peralty appeared first on LMScast - LifterLMS Podcast.

240集单集