The first Playwriting Kick-Start class has begun! Playwriting Kick-Start, taught by Lindsay, is an online playwriting course meant to guide an entire class of students toward writing their first play over the course of four lessons. Students submit work at the end of each lesson and Lindsay personally reads and comments on their work.
The course is quite flexible. Every lesson segment has been recorded on video and can be streamed online. Optionally, lessons can be printed off in text format and guided by the in-class teacher. Lesson segments are also available as PDF files.
To accomplish all this, we developed the underlying software in-house. Lindsay crafted all of the creative parts and I did the programming.
After we were satisfied that everything was working just fine, we handed it over to the first in-class teacher. A few minor accessibility problems cropped up. We couldn’t reproduce the bugs using the exact same software setup as they were, but the kinks eventually got ironed out. Suffice to say, folks who set up school networks were probably torture rack designers in a previous life.
The next problem was pretty entertaining. Some of the course pages were being blocked by the school network saying that they were “blocked because the web category ‘Paranormal and Occult’ is not allowed.” For the life of us, we had no idea what this message was referring to. Eventually we learned that one of the techniques Lindsay uses (Automatic Writing) is also some sort of occult practice we weren’t aware of. Yikes.
Finally we were ready for the students. I was very edgy on the day they were to start. They only had the computer lab for a limited time and the site had to work perfectly. I fired up a console to our server and started following the access logs so I’d know exactly when they were starting.
Not a single hit to the site.
I realized we had no idea when they were planning on being online.
Their school day ended. Nada still.
By then I had pretty much forgotten about them. I figured we had the dates wrong or something.
Suddenly my screen was filled with hits to the server. A whole class worth of hits to lessons, to videos, to everything! No errors. No emails. No frantic phone calls.
And just like that, the site’s ready to go. We still have some slots available for the fall session so please check it out! We’re ready for you.