One of the projects I have been working on for the last two weeks is migrating the old gold WordPress Multisite platform for the Macaulay Honors College. The Eportfolios platform has been around for near on 15 years, and has thousands of sites, almost one terabyte of data, and a massive, unruly database—only consolation is it’s not sharded. We’re currently migrating the instance from Digital Ocean to ReclaimPress as part of a broader migration project the company is undertaking. This site was prioritized because the database was so resource-intensive when we started hosting it 8 years ago, that we had to run the database in its own server, which is currently an outdated Ubuntu instance that needs to be retired. So, we took this opportunity to update the server and bring the database back in the fold within a scalable, containerized environment on our Cloud.
In fact, that process is all but done, we’ll make the final DNS switch this morning, and all things being equal (fingers crossed!) the migration and consolidation of the venerable Macaulay Eportfolios onto ReclaimPress will be complete. The full circle piece comes in here, sure I took on this migration to run ReclaimPress through its paces, offload the nearly 1 TB of storage to S3 (I love that stuff), get more servers off Digital Ocean, and manage what I knew to be a particularly unique server setup. But the other big reason I took this on is Macaulay is where I got started as an educational technologist. While a perpetual student at CUNY’s Grad Center I got the Instructional Technology Fellow (ITF) position to pay some of the bills after having just left my job as an English teacher at Brooklyn’s Clara Barton High School. I was a newly minted father, and the stresses of grad school, a new family, and the impossibility of living in New York City were catching up to me. The ITF position seemed practical because you got a free Macbook as part of the deal, and it was not too much overhead, something about doing things with computers and teaching. I knew some basic HTML and I needed the supplemental income (and the time it freed up) to double-down and finish the Ph.D. so I could get on with my life….little did I know that the ITF position would become my life.
As part of the ITF position I discovered WordPress and MediaWiki and the scales fell from my eyes, it was as if a brave new world of platforms had finally arrived to up-end the drab, florescent-lighted spaces of online learning environments. It all seemed so clear after playing for a just a small while, and the fact it was all open source and could be self-hosted was the clincher. I mean, that is literally now my job, and I am migrating the WordPress platform for Macaulay that was the epicenter of so much of the ITFs work over the last 15 years. Sadly, the ITF program was discontinued not too long ago, but that program gave birth to a whole generation of educators and ed techs that had to confront the impact of the changing world of web-based technology on higher ed—it was a program that asked Ph.D. students to think about an intersection that would quickly become crucial to the very soul of the academy—a struggle still very much playing out as I write this.
CUNY was a lot of things to me, it taught me how to teach, it introduced me to an amazing cohort of fellow travelers and life-long friends, it hooked me on edtech, and it even introduced me to my special lady friend. I mean the roots run deep, and in many ways I cannot have arrived at this moment wherein I type these words on this blog getting a paycheck from Reclaim Hosting without having been there and done that at America’s premiere no-bullshit city university system. Sure the bureaucracy and sheer scale of CUNY is insane, but it changed my life, and for that I’m forever grateful. While some of it was luck, place, and timing, just as much was folks working in that system (namely George Otte, Steve Brier, Luke Waltzer, and Zach Davis) creating an opportunity for others to take a peek into the future and see what’s possible. There is no greater educational experience, and this migration (if it works) will be proof of that 🙂