Tim has been on a full-blown roll creating one-click apps for Reclaim Cloud. In just the first few weeks we already have more custom one-click apps in Reclaim Cloud than we created through Installatron for our first few years. It speaks to the power of this new platform for sure, not to mention the seemingly limitless possibilities it provides us to leverage Docker compose files for a whole host of applications will prove a huge boon for the marketplace of apps.
In fact, J.R. Dingwall’s recent post about trying to get the application Adapt Learning authoring tool installed on Reclaim Cloud speaks quite pointedly to the limits and possibilities of this new platform. Let me start with the limits, a lot of us edtechs are not sysadmins, so spinning up your own server, even if in the new fangled Cloud, is not necessarily simple:
Installing the authoring tool requires access to commandline, which I had never used before. Reclaim Cloud makes accesses command line super easy and clear, but like a foreign language, you gotta know what you’re doing. I also discovered that my approach to following instructions is not really the best way. Initially, you need to have four things in place to install adapt authoring: git, node.js, MongoDB, and grunt. That was a big hurdle until I found in the documentation how to check each. So I spun up the environment (selecting node.js, and mongdb) and then spun my wheels trying to figure out how to get git and grunt installed. Doh! Turned out they came with the package.
You can create just about any stack on Reclaim Cloud, but that process assumes certain skills like command line knowledge of Linux environments, how these next generation apps are packaged, not to mention their various relations, etc. I think this could be an environment edtechs become more and more familiar with, but I also understand the hard limits of entry, the need for support, and the time it takes for such specialized learning. SO, on the other side, the limits are real and it is up to us to try and make the tool accessible not only to the sysadmins, but also the folks who want to focus on its use. Here is JR’s second point really resonates with us:
I recall David Wiley’s keynote presentation at OER 18, a talk where he was asked to be provocative. One of the things he mentioned was about the days of compiling his own code, and while open source is very important that it is more important to make tools usable to the widest possible audience (I’m paraphrasing). I think Reclaim has often struck a great balance between providing simple easy to use access to tools and letting them get under the hood. Reclaim Cloud takes it to the next level.
I think this is absolutely spot on. Reclaim Cloud, as we are imagining it, gives the most Mountain Dew addled sysadmin an endless playground of possibility while at the same time providing a space for instructional technologists and designers to play and conceptualize the possibilities of this new environment, while at the same time providing focused community support and help when and where possible to make various technologies heretofore unimaginable just a click away.
Special thanks to JR for taking it to the blog, JR, I really appreciate the time and energy he spent illustrating the challenges and rewards of diving into a whole new paradigm for exploring open source edtech tools.