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Guidance replatformed The Great Courses from Magento 1 to Magento 2 PWA for peak scalability and growth.

5 minute read

Who Should Read This?

This case study will be especially relevant for those interested in the following topics:

  • E-Learning
  • Data Migration
  • Digital Library
  • Magento Commerce
  • Headless Commerce
  • Custom Checkout
  • Replatform
  • Magento PWA
  • Large Scale Website



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As Magento 1 was reaching its end of life, The Great Courses needed to migrate their e-learning platform to Magento 2. Given the brand’s sizable digital library, they looked to Guidance for support in building a Progessive Web App capable of maintaining a multi-site, multi-domain and multi-currency headless architecture. During the migration, millions of records had to be kept intact and most importantly, a seamless, zero-impact experience to the end user had to be ensured.


A pioneer in the lifelong-learning market since 1990, The Teaching Company is a media company that produces The Great Courses, a series of comprehensive video and audio courses taught by the world’s greatest professors. With a catalog of over 700 courses comprising over 9,000 hours of content, The Great Courses classes are available to customers via digital streaming, DVD and CD sales on their website. The Great Courses also has highly rated apps available across most major app platforms, including iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Amazon Alexa.

E-Learning Powered by Magento PWA

The e-learning space has seen enormous expansion not just due to the impact of the pandemic but as online learning has grown and streaming media has increased over the last decade. Evolving with the technology for over 30 years, The Great Courses has provided leisure-based learning through various forms. In its most recent release, The Great Courses now offers users the ability to stream directly through their PWA (Progressive Web App), downloadable content and even through direct mail hard copies of the courses.

As Magento was sunsetting their M1 version, The Great Courses needed to replatform to Magento 2 to ensure security and update continuity. They were searching for a solution that would scale with the breadth of content in their library and their growing customer base. The solution is a headless Magento PWA. By decoupling their website’s front and backend systems, headless allows The Great Courses to continually evaluate new customer experiences across every channel and deploy new experiences seamlessly.

The Great Courses Hybrid CMS

As a subscription-based video streaming service, speed and scale are paramount to the user experience. As such, Guidance helped migrate their Magento 1 instance to a Magento 2 PWA which delivers app-like experiences via mobile and desktop devices. The new PWA solution has increased user engagement and boosted conversion rates. Magento Commerce delivers a fully unified front-end PWA supported by an expansive back-end technology suite. In fact, Guidance developed one of the first and largest PWA architectures on the Magento 2 platform. The result is an integrated ecommerce solution for The Great Courses that has cemented their brand amongst today’s most innovative digital commerce solutions.

Custom Coupon Solution

Guidance implemented a customized coupon solution for The Great Courses within Magento 2’s checkout. At various times of the year, courses will be discounted and customers are given coupon codes to redeem at checkout. The custom functionality works atop Magento’s out of the box coupon redemption engine. The Great Courses have specific rules around how their coupons are applied for their business and Guidance helped to develop business logic to support the solution.

The Great Courses custom coupon solution

Lightning Fast Media Delivery with Akamai

Customers of The Great Courses require a robust platform that is as reliable as it is resilient to stream seamless content directly from their mobile device or desktop. Akamai offers massive scale and unparalleled performance coupled with the capacity to deliver the largest media streaming services to The Great Courses. As users stream their courses, a seamless experience with zero buffering is paramount. Akamai offers flawless delivery with near-zero latency to optimize performance, reduce costs and ensure secure and quality experiences at scale. Guidance helped The Great Courses gain the agility needed to easily deploy changes, reduce their time to market and ensure quality and reliability.

New Revenue Channels

As customers stream their videos, The Great Courses continues to collect useful information to provide recommendations for their next lessons. They also use this information to offer discounts on related courses.

One way they connect with their customers is through personalized text messaging powered by Attentive. Using real-time behavioral data, Attentive’s SMS platform helps The Great Courses engage their mobile audience by sending useful and timely messages relevant to subscribers’ preferences and chosen topics. With Attentive, The Great Courses can reach millions of customers and start driving incremental revenue in minutes. They’ve also implemented transactional text messaging to keep customers who’ve ordered physical copies of their courses up to date on shipping estimates.

The Great Courses can create truly engaging text messaging campaigns by incorporating rich media and video snippets. Subscribers can respond and interact with customer service agents directly through text messaging. And using Attentive’s integrations with customer help desks, The Great Courses can automatically answer frequently asked questions by customers, saving their team countless hours and improving the customer experience at the same time.  


The Great Courses - powerful results with Attentive

Seamless Data Migration

A large part of the replatform from Magento 1 to Magento 2 consisted of migrating the existing customer information to ensure a seamless transition. The migration was a two-step process that happened in tandem to ensure continuity of data: customer information had to remain intact and customer viewing data had to be transferred over to the new platform. Guidance helped The Great Courses migrate over 5 million records to Magento 2 which included customer information, wishlist data, prior purchases, browsing history along with many other data points. Given the over 15,000 courses available, the migration of customer viewing history and the ability to continue watching where customers had left off required complex manipulation. The entire migration had to be seamless with zero downtime and without impact to the end customer.

The Great Courses - seamlessly migrated 5m records to m2

Certona Delivers Relevant Results

The Great Courses relies on sophisticated A/B testing and AI-driven personalization to delight its customers with impactful experiences that result in increased engagement, conversions and lifetime value. Every single action a user takes on the website is measured and tracked to provide relevant results to the audience segments based on behavior and context. Machine learning optimizes the content that is shown, the messaging and the discounts provided to the customer. Given the scale and size of the digital library, it was absolutely imperative that all product recommendations be powered through automation and algorithmically driven suggestions. Guidance ensures The Great Courses provides its customers with recommendations that are meaningful to them and therefore results in higher conversions.

The Great Courses - recommendations with Certona

Accessibility for All Customers

The Great Courses is committed to providing digital courses through every stage and at every learning level--this includes accessible material to the visually impaired. In order to offer the best accessible learning experience for their customers, The Great Courses chose AccessiBe to power their adaptive website. Guidance helped The Great Courses integrate AccessiBe’s website accessibility solution to offer a comparable user experience to the visually impaired.

AccessiBe’s AI is responsible for handling the more complex accessibility adjustments such as screen-reader optimization and keyboard navigation. Prior to AccessiBe, those modifications could only be achieved manually, with long, complex and costly development. Website visuals are simple for a sighted user to follow the flow of a site but a visually impaired user is unable to navigate in the same way a sighted user would browse. AccessiBe’s interface offers multiple, seamless customization options as all accessible portions become part of the website experience.

The Great Courses - a11y with accessiBe


The Great Courses has built out a community of devoted fans who evangelize their personal experiences with online learning. One of the best ways for customers to spread the good word is through customer ratings and written reviews. Guidance helped The Great Courses integrate BazaarVoice Reviews to allow customers to leave honest reviews of their experience with the courses. It has given customers the opportunity to engage with the community of fellow e-learners looking not just for excellent learning experiences but also to be part of a broader online community.

Reviews have a strong influence on customers during their online journey and this is even more important with digital content. Bazaarvoice empowers customers to buy confidently by collecting authentic, “voice of the customer” content and displaying it during the customer buying journey. Bazaarvoice gives customers the ability to generate their own reviews and provide additional information about their learning format and experience level. Customers feel confident in reading the reviews as authentic reviews are given a “Verified Purchaser” badge and customers can easily find reviews through advanced sorting and filtering options.

The Great Courses - reviews with BazaarVoice

BazaarVoice Reviews is a theme-friendly design that seamlessly incorporates into the existing website design giving the user an experience that fits with the website’s feel. The Great Courses can easily customize the layout options, text and colors as their brand image evolves and changes without needing additional coding. It’s given the company’s website the ability to engage with customers in new and important ways to create an ongoing conversation both pre- and post-conversion.


The new Progressive Web App architecture is one of the first and largest of its kind ever deployed on the Magento 2 platform. Supporting thousands of digital and physical courses, Guidance helped migrate millions of records seamlessly with uninterrupted user experience.


With multiple complex integrations, Magento Commerce delivers a fully decoupled front-end PWA supported by an expansive back-end technology suite. The extensive upgrades and replatforming to Magento PWA has resulted in increased conversions, transactions and revenue.


The Great Courses looked to Guidance for a full replatform from Magento 1 to Magento 2 headless Progressive Web App (PWA). Magento 2 delivers a fully decoupled front-end PWA supported by an expansive back-end technology suite with multiple complex integrations. As one of the largest e-learning organizations, The Great Courses has a huge digital library and requires streaming capabilities for every course. Magento 2 is the ecommerce platform capable of handling a multi-site, multi-domain and multi-currency headless architecture.


Guidance helped to migrate millions of customer records while maintaining a seamless user experience--even keeping a “Continue Watching” capability intact throughout the migration. By replatforming to Magento 2 PWA and extensively upgrading their website experience, The Great Courses has seen an increase in conversions, transactions and revenue.


  • Complex Integrations
  • Progressive Web App (PWA)
  • Development
  • Workflow Development
  • Technical Architecture
  • Custom Coupon Solution
  • Data Migration
  • Digital Library Optimization
  • Headless Commerce
  • Complex Integrations
  • Multi-Currency Website


  • Microsoft Dynamics ERP
  • Akamai Content Delivery
  • Selligent Marketing Automation
  • Datamart Data Warehouse
  • Vantiv Payments
  • BitMovin Player
  • BazaarVoice Reviews
  • Sales Tax Office
  • AdRoll Digital Marketing
  • Attentive SMS Marketing
  • AccessiBe Accessibility

Silver Winner - General - School/University

Silver Winner - Best Use of Emerging Technology

Silver Winner - Best Structure and Navigation

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