Command Line, Again?

July 12, 2020 2 By JR

Well, I’m wishing I had been the kind of person to “read head” right about now. Currently I just wrapped up my fourth course at OCADu’s Continuing Ed Program in UX and Webdesign and my most recent class looked at some topics regarding PHP and Dynamic web design. Mostly we looked at php, but the final week included some materials on Node.js and making use of the command line. Now where have I encountered those recently? Oh right, trying to install the Adapt Authoring Tool over on Reclaim Cloud.

Having the experience of trying a task where I’d never seen the tool set before, but with a set of instructions (that assumed a certain level of knowledge) juxtaposed with some written materials (“lectures” if you will) and a small activity in a more formal environment was a really interesting experience. Reflecting back on me beating my head on the desk trying to figure things out for installing Adapt while simultaneously trying to learn command line makes me think many people would have stopped right there. I can see where a more formalized environment would have allowed me to complete the task quicker and with more confidence.

via GIPHY

But then I reflect on what I just completed in the class and figure that now there is no way to tell how I would have fared without my first hand experience trying to do a whole lot more with command line than the assignment asked. I had tried on and off for a while to get better with HTML, CSS, or even get a taste of Javascript through things like Code Academy and the like. Even though the courses I am taking were mostly independent and self-paced, somehow they were more motivating. One thing that these courses always miss though (regardless if it’s an institution or something like Code Academy) is taking into account what the learner is trying to do next week, next month, next year. The activities can be a great introduction, and the simplicity helps you get at the basics. But you’re almost never walking into a clean slate when you get to work on a web project. I can think back to when I was trying to get my own H5P Mods Plug-in for WordPress to work and I’d never seen PHP or a coding software other than Dreamweaver before. What a treat that was. I did get it to work for what I wanted it to do, but it has since broken.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Reclaim Cloud right now because of the public beta available, but this recent experience in class and with Adapt got me thinking about when I first started with Reclaim. I was working as an Ed Developer at ualberta and I saw something about Reclaim Hosting on Twitter. I signed up and got to work. I’d actually never had my own domain before, never seen cPanel or similar thing. My experience with web design up until that point was a class or two in university which had Dreamweaver included as like 20% of the course. At the time it wasn’t much beyond HTML. When I was in grad school I worked on a project with the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society which included a website redesign. We ended up using WordPress for their site, but the project also had a component where they wanted the Everret Baker photo collection put online. That is the side of the teams I worked on, and we ended up using SmugMug. I went to our local museum’s archives and put on fancy gloves to handle the DVDs the photos were currently stored on, copied all 10,000 of them and worked with my team to upload, tag, sort, and set up the SmugMug site to match the SHFS main site style.

When I signed up for Reclaim, I was bound and determined that WordPress would be my one and only. After all, all the projects I really admired at the time like DS106 were on WP. I was really tired of the LMS and looking for something new. The other night I recalled, fondly, finishing work and heading back downtown. I’d stop by my favourite bar in Edmonton, order up, and crack open the laptop. I remember being frustrated then too. How do I pick a theme? Will the theme do what I think I want to do with this project? How do I customize this theme with the tools provided? The one theme in particular I saw on Adam Croom’s blog was called Academy. The whole WP interface was more than I could handle at the time, but now I feel comfortable there. Between trying different things, getting some support through the communities, talking with other ed techs at conferences, looking up solutions to the problems I was having (because thousands of others had the same problem) and just trying stuff out got me this far. Now I don’t think I hardly do something like give a presentation unless I’m spinning up a SPLOTpoint site and using WP as my “slide deck”.

Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight while you’re struggling to work with a new tool, framework, or way of tackling your ed tech environment that the tools you love and use all the time now used to be a struggle. With that in mind, I’m impatient and anxious to see where I am in another five years with the tools now available through Reclaim Cloud.