Lion Den? As Lion Den's creator, I'm thrilled with it.
As some of you know, I started Lion Den as a "personal" website many, many years ago—before most colleges had a website (not to mention a learning management system). My college was just getting their website up and running and I wanted to post news items for my students, class notes and other resources, and general study tips and tools to help my students succeed. But my college wanted a "public relations website" not a teaching-learning tool. Not willing to wait for them to come around to my way of thinking, I simply started my own website.
There are many advantages to having a website entirely under one's control as a professor. I've nearly always had a mix of part-time and full-time appointments, so it's an easy way to post common resources that all my students can use. I'm not at the whims of sudden and tightly scheduled changes to institutional platforms just at a time when I'm already overloaded with academic work. And I can be more entrepreneurial.
But there are downsides, too. I had to learn some tech stuff I didn't know. I love learning new things and taking on new challenges. So although it was work, I enjoyed it. But another downside—a big one—is that I had to be my own IT team.
Lucky for me, I eventually found a reliable web host that provides great support at a reasonable price—1and1.com. That helps a lot.
But the real work comes in setting up a website and maintaining it. As web technology has changed over the years, there have been a couple of times I've had to completely reconstruct my website in a new platform. That's a double load because I'm having to learn the new platform at the same time as I'm rebuilding it.
Recently, it became clear that I had to once again rebuild Lion Den. Students and teachers using it could not easily navigate, or even see, some of the resources on mobile devices. There were other issues, too.
S4support—a division of NeoSoft.
They have an outsourcing system that can scale from huge companies right down to little old me. And their prices scale right along with it. In their system, they match you to the IT professional that you need and you pay a reasonable hourly rate for their services.
I had some hesitation, I will admit. I wasn't sure I could speak "tech" with someone who is an expert. And besides needing someone to roll up their sleeves and do the rebuild, I also needed a mentor who could prepare me for maintaining the rebuild website.
But I wasn't disappointed. I was assigned a very amiable and talented programmer, Rajendar, who was perfect for me. Besides all the heavy lifting of reformulating all my content for a new, more modern and flexible, platform (Wordpress), he also contributed some brilliant ideas about rethinking some of the design and functionality of my website.
When the task was done, it was done. There has been no pressure to continue working with them. The agreement I signed is open-ended—I can rehire them for chunks of time only when I need them. I probably will at some point. When I want to try something new that I can't handle on my own. If something breaks badly. Or if I want build or rebuild another website or blog. No pressure—just willingness, if I should need them again.
If you have a website or blog or anything like that, and want your own affordable "IT department" to get you started or bail you out of a mess, then I recommend S4support enthusiastically.