Michal’s internship finished in March 2012, and Nick began an internship as his replacement.
Our first priority was preparing packs of past matric exam papers. We’d started to source these as part of our initial content list creation, and these were already listed on the site, but the packs themselves had not been prepared. We needed to have them ready in case any orders came in. The primary challenge was creating complete sets of exam papers. The DBE website and WCED didn’t have all of the papers, and their online resources were often buggy or incorrect. We started by creating a list of outstanding exam PDFs, which we then used to individually source as many missing papers as we could (we called and emailed, and bought CD compilations of exams to try to fill the gaps). At the same time we started prepping the packs for those subjects which we had complete sets for.
Nick and I attended some ‘Open Education’ workshops at UCT, in the hopes that this would generate some leads for more content. We found, however, that we already knew much of what the workshops covered (but it was edifying to know we were on the right track).
The aim was that interns or new staff members could jump right in on tasks with a little training, and begin to develop skills themselves. Over the years this has worked incredibly well for the content team. It means that when we do in-person training in those first weeks, it can be much more in-depth (and is thus more valuable) than if we were to do general introductory training sessions.
I began creating and improving upon a series of wiki posts to govern things like document creation and document uploading. The aim was that interns or new staff members could jump right in on tasks with a little training, and begin to develop skills themselves. Over the years this has worked incredibly well for the content team. It means that when we do in-person training in those first weeks, it can be much more in-depth (and is thus more valuable) than if we were to do general introductory training sessions. Ops style posts that give detailed explanations of how to do tasks means that new and old team members alike have something to come back to for reference, and ensures uniformity (which is important when it comes to file naming conventions for version control).
We also began to track metrics for the first time. Our initial focus was on measuring publisher registrations, outlet registrations, and top-ups (i.e. the purchasing of credits in advance). This process of tracking metrics was one that we improved upon over time. It’s interesting how much insight our focus on these three metrics gives to our business goals at the time. We were focused on creating an outlet base, and increasing our content bank, rather than on growing our customer base. And we were more focused on the potential for sales than on sales themselves. The failure here was in assuming that these three metrics were a proxy for other things. We assumed that a wide outlet base represented more potential customers, that increased publisher registrations meant more content (and that more content increased the likelihood of valuable content), that top-ups were a signifier of outlet buy-in, and would ‘naturally’ lead to sales. The reality was that we ended up measuring the potential for success, rather than measuring success itself. It was a lesson we would learn later on.
- Hamilton Wende
- Cingela (13/3/2012)