THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all of your encouragement and offers of assistance in my challenge to save the Speaking of Speech.com website! Two months ago, I received word from GoDaddy that my website would have to be upgraded by September or it would be lost. If SOS.com was a typical website, this would be a nuisance but wouldn’t have dire consequences. But SOS.com is NOT typical. The Materials Exchange contains thousands of free materials. To upgrade the site, I have to download every document individually, then upload and link each one individually. I had to do this once before, and it was sheer torture. I vowed then I would never do it again.
I’ll be honest….knowing what I was facing, I was on the verge of pulling the plug on the site when I posted a link on FB to a survey designed to find out just how valuable SOS.com is to the SLP community. I knew it was an important resource 15 years ago when it was one of the very few pioneer SLP sites, but now it seems that every other SLP in ASHA has a site, blog, Pinterest page, Teachers Pay Teachers store, and/or Instagram account, which I would naturally assume would dilute the impact of my site. Given that the site requires significant time and expense to maintain, I felt I couldn’t justify going through the torture of rebuilding it if it had run its course and wasn’t needed that much anymore.
Well, I was blown away by the response from SLPs around the world! In the first three days that the survey went online, nearly 3000 responses were received, and over half of the respondents took time to leave dazzlingly kind words of encouragement, including suggestions about how to make the transition and offers to help with the effort. I also received countless emails and messages on my blog and through Facebook. Please believe me when I say that I was deeply touched by every one, and deeply regret that I cannot possibly answer every one individually!! (Well, I guess I could, but then I’d never have time to redo the site!). PLEASE share this post with your colleagues to help me send my heartfelt thanks to everyone who reached out in support!
The survey results provided me with some real surprises. The first surprise is about how many SLPs still use the Materials Exchange: 92% report it is feature they use the most! (Gulp!) That response alone cleared up any doubt that the Materials Exchange would have to be preserved. In the comments section, SLPs begged, pleaded, and told me how the Materials Exchange got them through grad school and remains their go-to resource in their career.
The second surprise was how few SLPs use the message boards in the SLP Message Center! I was shocked to find that only 5% of respondents named the message boards as their favorite feature on the site and 68% said they NEVER use the message boards!! Good grief, is this because users bookmarked the Materials Exchange and never get beyond that section??? Oh, if so, many SLPs don’t know what they are missing!! I use the message boards every day and have learned SO MUCH from the conversations on the Help Line and other boards! SLPs who do use the message boards routinely expressed over and over in the comments that they, too, expand their knowledge, skills, and techniques via the message boards, and many expressed that they appreciate being able to post anonymously (unlike the message boards on the ASHA site, for instance). This gives SLPs the freedom to seek support on caseload challenges, knowing their name, location, or students cannot be identified. I hadn’t even considered that when I set up the boards, but this advantage was pointed out by a number of SLPs. If you haven’t checked out the message boards, please do! You’ll find them at the “SLP Message Center.”
After such an overwhelming response to the news that the site was in jeopardy, I had no choice but to try to save it. I spent many hours on the phone with web developers, and actually started to recreate the site on 5 different web hosts to see which platform would be the most compatible with my needs. Unfortunately, I ran into drawbacks with each one, so I went back to GoDaddy (unquestionably the best platform for my site’s features) and spent many more hours on the phone trying to figure out how to make the transfer as easy as possible. The HUGE problem, of course, is the Materials Exchange. There is just no way around downloading, then uploading each and every page individually. This is because of how the materials are stored on their server, soon to be obsolete. The only good news is that I was able to purchase a second site that essentially provides me with “cloud” storage so that if I am ever faced with having to upgrade again, I won’t have to go through rebuilding the Materials Exchange again. At least, that’s what they told me, and I have no choice but to believe it! GoDaddy has a “facelift” service which you can buy to do the site upgrade. Although I was skeptical, I paid the $500 for this when the agent assured me that the Materials Exchange wouldn’t be a problem for the facelift team, then breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, a few days later, the facelift team took a look at the sheer volume of materials on the site and said “no way!” I got my $500 back, but knew that meant I’d have to do it myself. (To all SLPs who so very kindly offered their assistance in this task, and even offered their husbands and sons who are computer experts, I truly thank you all! This really isn’t the kind of job that can be divided up. Even if it was, it would take me a long time to write out the multi-step, often quirky, instructions, and I’d still have to go through the entire exchange to check for errors. If errors are made –and they will be–better that they are mine, as then I’ll be able to figure out how to fix them!)
For the past 6 weeks, I have been chipping away at the transfer of the materials whenever I find some free time, and have declared nearly all of today through Monday as a marathon transfer session. My dear husband is very understanding, but I did hear him refer to himself as a “website widower” and I know he’ll be relieved when the new site is up and running. Me, too!
The new and improved Speaking of Speech.com will be up and running for the 2016-17 school year, with as much of the Materials Exchange as I can transfer (hopefully, all). You’re going to love the new look of the site, and I hope you’ll enjoy the new features I’m adding.
Many thanks again to all of you SOS.com supporters! Yes, I’m doing the work, but your encouragement is what is saving the site!