Changes to how you Request a Resource

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Written by Scott (Teach Starter)

Since its launch in early 2013, the ‘Request a Resource’ system has been a terrific feature of Teach Starter. Hundreds of members have submitted a diverse range of interesting, creative and useful ideas, which have helped to grow our collection of downloadable teaching resources immensely.

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The story

Over the past two and a half years, we have created an astonishing 6,034 unique pages of resources, specifically based on what our members have requested. This has involved countless hours planning, researching, designing, illustrating, editing and publishing.

Around 6 months ago we began experiencing a significant increase in the quantity of incoming requests. Along with this, we also noticed requests getting larger, while covering more and more content.

Capacity vs Requests

It became quite obvious to us that the Request a Resource feature, in its current incarnation, was not sustainable or scalable.

No longer were requests simply one-off posters or worksheets, but entire units of work comprising worksheets, posters, decorations, activities, games and more.

We introduced Request Guidelines, however most requests we received did not adhere to them, nor did we enforce them as strictly as perhaps we should have! We ended up pushing ourselves further to complete the larger requests, as opposed to rejecting them.

Wanting to ensure that our content exceeded our members expectations, we constantly made the extra effort to accommodate these larger requests. However, this meant that it was taking us longer to complete them, meaning our members had to wait longer.

Something which you may not know is that all of our resources are designed and illustrated in-house. We don’t use any clip-art or purchase licensed illustrations – our talented team creates everything. We take tremendous pride in this fact, and know that it is an integral part of what makes our resources unique.

Because of the amount of time and energy it takes to create each resource, our small team was beginning to spend more and more of our collective time chasing our tails to complete requests within tight time frames, before moving on to a new request.

As we were unwilling to sacrifice the quality of our resources, this meant that something else had to give.

It became quite obvious to us that the Request a Resource feature, in its current incarnation, was not sustainable or scalable.

The time had come for us to change how requests work.

The new ‘Request a Resource’ section

We began brainstorming ways that could allow us to keep this great feature, but make it work for our members and our team.

The first thing that quickly became apparent was that we couldn’t complete everyone’s requests.

This decision was tough to swallow.

We knew that requests were such an added bonus for our members. Essentially, they had their own teacher concierge ready to help them take their lessons to the next level. However for just $49, they could request three resources that could each take one of our Teach Starter team members 10 hours to complete. The economics just didn’t stack up.

With the decision made to not create every request, the knock-on effect meant that our new system could scale. We could have an unlimited number of requests, but our team could continue to function by only completing a finite number of them within a given time frame.

Now that the system could scale and we could actively seek more requests, we needed a way to make our resource selection process fair. Out of hundreds of requests, which ones would we complete, and in what order?

We decided that the fairest way was to open it up for our community to decide. Every member could vote and comment on any request. This gave every member the same chance of having their request made, while also putting the impetus on them to share the idea with their friends.

The Vote Button: Every member could vote and comment on any request.

The Vote Button: Every member could vote and comment on any request.

After a set period, we would select the top couple of requests and begin working on them. Because we wouldn’t be tied to request deadlines, we could spend more time working on the top requests. This would allow us to maintain the quality of our resources, spend more time delving deeper into requests and create resources that would benefit the wider Teach Starter community.

Moving forward

And so the time has come… we have now launched the new Request a Resource system!

You will now see that you can vote on all requests. You can click on the ‘popular’ tab to see which requests are currently leading the way to be made next month.

To begin with, we’re only making two requests each month. On the 1st of each month, we will select the two requests that have the highest number of votes. As our capacity increases, we may increase the number of requests we complete each month.

To begin with, we’re only making one request each week. We will select the resource with the most votes on Thursday (starting July 30) to be completed by the following Thursday. As our capacity increases, we may increase the number of requests we complete each week.

Another great aspect of this new system is that all members can now request resources!

So, what does this mean for those of you with existing premium requests from your subscription?

  • You now have unlimited requests.
  • Your request will be completed if it has the highest number of votes when we select the next resource to be made.

What about those of you who submitted premium requests before June 13, 2015?

  • We will complete your request as normal. Expect it to be finished soon!

Now that we have a scalable, fair, community focused Request a Resource system, our goal is to take your ideas even further.

We’re sure that you will be blown away when you see what we come up with next!

~ The Teach Starter team

p.s. We completely understand that some of you will be disappointed that requests as you know it are no more, however this new system is the only sustainable way for us to move forward. We hope that this article will help to shed light on our decision. Please know that it wasn’t made lightly. On the plus side, you now have unlimited requests!

If you have any questions or feedback regarding this new system, please comment below or contact [email protected] and Scott will be happy to answer your queries.

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