The Impact of COVID-19 On Team Training
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, global and local workforces have undergone several phases of transformation, a major change for many being the transition to remote work life. With this transition came challenges such as maintaining strong company culture, working with clients in a remote space, and the piece we will be focusing on in this post, conducting effective team training in a remote environment. Providing SEO training to your team can be a very large undertaking on its own, let alone in a post-pandemic remote workspace.
As you may know, UpBuild has been a 100% remote workforce since our founding in 2015 — one of the many perks of working in the SEO industry. Although this did not leave us immune to the economic impact of COVID-19, it did position us to come out ahead of many after-effects most businesses have had to navigate as they transition to remote work.
Even in industries such as digital marketing – a trade that can be virtually learned from anywhere – prior to 2020, team training typically took place in person. However, with companies planning to downsize office space and 30% of people saying they’d quit their jobs if forced to go back to an office – heyo, it me – where does that leave team training? The flock to online learning systems may give us some indication.
In order to support a now broad workforce of remote team members, companies began rapidly adopting online learning systems and outsourcing training to businesses in the online learning market. On the other hand, with the economic effects of COVID-19, businesses have also sought new ways to provide necessary training to their new and existing team members while improving their bottom lines. UpBuild has recently experimented with one new solution that is just emerging from under the business radar: Google Classroom.
What Is Google Classroom?
Google Classroom is an open-source distance learning platform designed for schools and teachers to streamline the education system. Like other virtual learning platforms, Classroom quickly gained in popularity and even doubled its users during the height of the pandemic, reaching over 100 million users. Classroom has now grown beyond a distance learning platform for the school system into a virtual learning tool for a diverse global audience.
Who Can Use Google Classroom?
Although originally built as an online learning tool for school systems, people and businesses outside the education system can use this free platform as well. This is exactly what we did when we created our UpBuild Core Deliverables Course, currently just a preliminary version of what is meant to be a living SEO resource for current and future team members.
In this post, we will show you exactly how we set up our own SEO training course Google Classroom and lay out the course flow so that you can also learn how to use Classroom for your own training needs at no cost.
Google Classroom Basics
Before we dive into creating your perfect SEO course for your team, we ought to first get acquainted with the user interface. There are four core segments within each class created in Google Classroom: Stream, Classwork, People, and Grades (only visible to those with Teacher permissions for a given class).
The class Stream lets you communicate in real-time with team members to provide announcements, give live updates on course assignments or added materials, or even respond to comments. For your team members, this will be where they can find these updates as well as add comments, post questions, or see any upcoming assignments. This is also where they can easily generate and locate the class meeting link for live training sessions.
The Classwork tab is the meat of Google Classroom, as it is where most of the learning and training takes place. Classwork houses all topics, assignments, and materials relevant to the course as well as additional resources such as the class calendar and the class Google Drive. For Teachers, this will also show any unpublished assignments or resources. An initial view of the Classroom will show high-level items from the Classwork tab; drilling down into specific topics will show all materials for those topics as well as open a place for comments.
People consists of all participants of the course, designated either as a ‘Teacher’ or a ‘Student’ — from a team training perspective, we can think of these as more like trainer and trainee/classmate, but Google’s terminology still reflects Classroom’s roots as a tool for educators. This tab is also where you can send an invite to a team member to join the course, either as a Student or as a Teacher. Additionally, you can send emails directly to anyone in the class from this tab by selecting the send icon next to the person’s name.
This tab, only visible to Teachers, shows any relevant grades (if weighted) of all scheduled assignments for each Student.
Google Classroom Features
Google Classroom has a very intuitive interface and design that makes it easy to use. Here are some of my favorite features that made building and changing the UpBuild course effortless:
- Drag-and-drop – One of the most convenient features of Google Classroom is the drag-and-drop interface for topics, assignments, and materials. You can efficiently rearrange your entire course to fit a better flow of SEO knowledge at any time. It is even easier to delete irrelevant resources and add new ones as the course evolves.
- Link sharing – The link sharing capabilities with Classroom are very granular; you can share virtually any piece of the whole. Share your course, your topic, or even a specific assignment or material with the whole class or just one person.
- Class Drive – Each class comes with its own class Google Drive for simple dissemination of relevant training materials.
- Integrated calendar – Easily plan a training schedule and calendar that can be added to your organization and the attendees of the course.
- Meet link – Along with the class drive and calendar, each class has the opportunity to generate a designated meeting link that allows you to avoid repeatedly creating or sharing new meeting links in communication channels.
How to Build Your Own SEO Training Course
Now that we’ve covered the main characteristics of the Google Class interface, we can move on to how to create your own course for your specific industry, business, or personal needs. For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus our attention on the Classwork section and how to create, organize, and share your SEO training course, assignments, and materials. Let’s dive right in.
Step 1: Create A Class
Fortunately, there is no installation required; Google Classroom is built-in with the rest of Google apps, allowing you to easily locate it within your Google apps menu (if you don’t already have a Google apps account, creating one is free).
Once in the Classroom, it’s easy to get started adding courses, topics, and materials. Simply hit the add symbol in the top right corner and select Create class.
This will open a dialog box that will allow you to enter the name for your class (you can change this later). Only the course name is required, but you can also fill in Section, Subject, and Room if you like.
Step 2: Outline SEO Training topics
Although Google Classroom doesn’t require you to create your topics prior to assignments and materials, it can be a great way to organize your thoughts on how you want your training to flow. Adding topics up-front also makes it easier to add assignments and materials to said topics later on. Below is the course flow we included for our topics.
- SEO Audit & Action Plan
- Keyword Research
- On-Page Content Optimization
- Advanced Analytics Strategies
- Track Everything with Google Tag Manager
- Authority Building Strategies
- Analytics Audits
- Mobile-Friendliness Audits
It is important to keep in mind that some of the topics listed above are highly specific to the way that UpBuild designs our deliverables and trains our team around them, and that an SEO training course should always be tailored to the needs of your team and your organization.
Step 3: Add Assignments
Adding assignments is where course creation becomes more intricate. These are the steps we took when adding our assignments:
- Hit the Create button once more and select Assignment.
- Once you have opened the Assignment dialog box, enter your title and any related instructions or notes.
- Then, you can either attach or upload a file, insert a link, or embed a YouTube video.
- Alternatively, you can create an assignment directly from the page by selecting Create instead of Add and then select the type of file you wish to create (Doc, Slide, Sheet, Drawing, or Form).
- Once you have added all the relevant information, move on to the remaining categories on the right (see above).
- Designate whether this is for all members of the team, a sub-group, or an individual Student.
- Assign points or specify that the assignment is ungraded.
- Assign a due date, and designate the topic to which this assignment belongs.
- Lastly, select Assign in the top right or open the drop-down menu to Schedule, Save, or Discard this assignment.
- Once assigned, an email notification will be sent to all participating team members that you have posted a new assignment. It will also show in your Classroom Stream.
- Alternatively, you can send the assignment directly by selecting the menu next to the assignment in Classwork, clicking Copy link, and sending the copied link through your preferred communication channel (email, Slack, Teams, etc).
Step 4: Attach Supporting Materials
Utilizing the same steps above (excluding assigning grades or rubrics), you can then add different categories and material types to make it easy for your team to find supporting materials. Add or create your own training content, and/or supplement it with pre-existing content from experts in the field. This is how we broke down our materials:
- Templates & Resources – These include our custom-built templates and any additional files such as worksheets that will help complete the deliverables themselves.
- Relevant Readings – These are external resources from outside UpBuild’s blog, such as blog posts, pdfs, or webinars from other sites.
- UpBuild Blog Posts – These are internal posts on the UpBuild blog that are relevant to the deliverable in question.
- Tools – This category contains both internal and external tools needed to complete UpBuild deliverables, such as Screaming Frog, Moz, or UpBuild’s Page Title & Meta Description Tools.
Step 5: Invite Your Team
The final step in creating your SEO training course is sharing it with its intended participants: the Teachers and the Students. When you’re ready to share, navigate to the People section of Classroom and add team members by selecting the plus symbol to the right of either Teachers or Students. Additionally, you can simply copy your course link and share via email or any other online communication channel. It’s important to note that the link for the course is specifically for Student invitation, so, be sure to invite Teachers directly.
Learn SEO At Home With Classroom
On-the-job SEO training is great, but what if you are self-employed or wanting to learn SEO to make a career change? Since Google Classroom is open to individual users, a person seeking to learn SEO at home can utilize the same method above to create a personal repository of SEO resources. With this in mind, you can collect articles, tools, and other resources from organizations and knowledgeable users in the SEO space in one place without crowding your bookmarks. Check out these free resources to get started: