For most of us, starting on or around March 16th, our lives got thrown into a whirlwind, both personally and professionally. As the technology leader in your district, like so many others, you undoubtedly found yourself with a lot of new challenges that needed to be addressed right away. From working with your instructional leaders to put together a remote teaching and learning program, to addressing the lack of connectivity for some students, to figuring out how to still meet the requirements for public participation of school board meetings, and the list goes on and on.
When we started getting reports that not only our local districts would be closing down starting the week of March 16th, but that several states were starting to announce statewide school closings, I wasn’t really sure what to make of it. My first reaction as a business owner, was to think how this might affect our customers and our employees. For if you recall, early indicators were that these shutdowns would only be 2-3 weeks, and then we could all get back to our regular lives.
As an online video hosting, creating, and sharing solution, what we have experienced in the past 8 weeks can only be described as the perfect storm. While we knew that we would see an uptick in usage from our existing district customers, what we did not expect was the rush of close to 100 new districts looking for a solution for immediate implementation. Since I felt we had the infrastructure in place that could support that added traffic, we brought on those districts at absolutely no cost, to help them address their immediate needs of having a way for their teachers to quickly create videos and share them with their students, as we head into the last part of the school year.
Let me ask you… have you ever been blindsided by a member of your Admin staff or maybe even a board member, who probably overcommitted on a technology initiative without checking with the technology leaders first? Well, that was pretty much what happened here. While I was making sure we were taking care of our current customers, and offering free services to other districts in need, I never really reached out to our tech leaders, namely our CTO. What I quickly learned was that our tech staff was already seeing the real affects these school closures were having on us. What we saw was something I never expected, a 1,400% increase in traffic. That’s 14 times our daily average over a traditional school day. We now were faced with 125,000 teachers uploading and creating close to 20,000 videos a day, and sharing those videos with literally millions of students.
There are several lessons I have learned during this crisis, from the perseverance of our CTO and his team, to the flexibility and creativeness of our customers and other school districts in the face of a crisis. As we have often talk about us being able to turn on a dime to tend to the needs and demands of our clients, it’s leaders like you that have had to do the same, and a whole lot more.
A perfect storm: an event in which a rare combination of circumstances drastically aggravates the event. While we are still in the midst of this perfect storm, we seem to be on the back end of it, believe we will all overcome it, and if we learn from the past 8 weeks, will be ready to better respond to the next storm that comes our way.
Founder and COO, MyVRSpot