This post will likely be less organized, and more of a messy stream of consciousness has I make sense of the new Instructional Tech team/offering/thing at Reclaim Hosting. Documenting my way of thinking at a given time is challenging, but I think this is necessary for reflection and later use.
We have been toying with the idea of an instructional tech offering or service at Reclaim Hosting for some time, but our team has been too small in the past to have the capacity to really own or do it justice. But now that the Instructional Tech thing is beginning to take shape (and more on that in a minute) I’m finding that a lot of the work we’ve already been doing is further reinforcing this idea. We’ve dabbled in workshops & trainings. I’ve sent out (infrequent) newsletters to admins about the “happenings” at Reclaim. We have open forums to engage with the community. Our support has always gone above and beyond, whether you pay us $30/year or $3,000/year. So seeing these common themes with the budding working of Instructional Tech at Reclaim has already been cool to witness in and of itself.
As with anything though, there’s a balance with what we’ve been able to take on over the years, and our time has more or less been filled with keeping the ship afloat. Newsletters haven’t been as consistent as I would’ve liked. Support documentation needed to be refreshed. We’ve had to set boundaries around what we can and can’t support, and we’re protective with our time in terms of the projects that we take on. Until recently, due to time and tech constraints, we’ve had to say “no” to various things like hosting certain applications that are not compatible in a cPanel environment, acting as a consultant on a unique digital project, or offering our support/insight for edge cases.
While Instructional Tech at Reclaim is still very new, one immediately clear change that I’m seeing is that we’re now able to say “yes” to more. “Yes” to unique digital projects in Reclaim Cloud, “yes” to more workshops/meetings/areas for community engagement. “Yes” to consistent newsletters. That part of Instructional Tech is already really cool. I’ve also really enjoyed being apart of the Instructional Tech team meetings each week, which usually run close to two hours, and are filled with “what if we did this” type conversations. All the ideas that are brimming at the surface brings a newfound energy to Reclaim, which personally for me is always welcomed. I’ve been with Reclaim for coming up on seven years now, so finding new elements of inspiration is crucial for my personal happiness.
It seems like others are excited too. We’ve taken a few early meetings with some institutions to check in and see how they’re doing, and also introduce or share our ideas about Instructional Tech at Reclaim. I’m excited to document this more in future posts.
Now if I put my business hat on for a moment, I want to make sure we’re balancing the amount of new work we’re taking on, so we can build sustainable internal practices and avoid burnout. In order to do Instructional Tech at Reclaim right, it needs to be slow, steady, and acheivable. There is no doubt that Reclaim Hosting is busy, so balancing the new excitement with realistic goals for our team is something that I’m thinking through on an almost daily basis. I want to be mindful of the work that we’re taking on, and I want to make sure that we’re not biting off more than we can chew. Where is the work happening? For instance, the work doesn’t only happen in an hour long meeting with a school. There’s prep time beforehand, internal conversations or diagnosis with our Infrastructure team, post follow up work, and then any research or tasks that come as a result of the meeting itself. And if 2-3 Reclaim team members are on the call, that work is doubled or tripled.
As for now, we’re still in an exploratory phase of seeing what works and what doesn’t work. In these moments, I find that leaning into the community and being transparent as possible is the best way forward. We have to be open about how Instructional Tech at Reclaim is new, that we’re still learning and open to feedback, and we want to know what the community needs. I’m a very visual person, so for me, this means that Reclaim should be “stepping off the pedestal” so to speak (not that we like being there in the first place), and instead sitting around a table with other institutions, sleeves rolled up, and ready to work hard alongside everyone else. I’ve found that folks are much more receptive to that approach, vs. Reclaim Hosting walking in, chest puffed out, acting like we have a solution for every problem.
I also know that the exploratory phase means that we’ll likely be saying “yes” to a lot more at first, and then ultimately reining it in once we understand where Reclaim Hosting services can be most useful or effective. In our most recent brainstorming meeting about this, our ideas have landed on the following:
- Workshops, targeted and built for a school’s unique set of needs
- Additional training for new DoOO institutions. (Ok so you have DoOO… now what?)
- One-off consultative meetings about growing digital projects on campus, account cleanup, migration strategies, or something custom
- Professional Development/one-off consultation meetings with Edtech & Faculty
- Focusing on Reclaim Cloud containers and docker
- Tools for virtual/hybrid learning or meetings/workshops– OBS, StreamYard, YouTube Live, PeerTube
- Increased Managed WordPress Multisite support via workshops, documentation
- Monthly consultative meetings with Admins- regular checking in, feedback, strategizing
- Skilled Tasks: Site/Content Archival, Community Showcase Site, best practices for accessibility
- Monthly Community Chat, monthly newsletters
See what I mean? Reclaim has never had a problem with ideas. :) We just now have to hone in on what makes sense & what would be most valuable or helpful for our Community. Also, charging for some of this stuff seems weird. I think it’s important for Reclaim Hosting to still go “above and beyond” without putting everything behind a paywall, but where that paywall lies is still up in the air. While writing this, the following visual came to mind:
The other large shift I’m seeing is more of an internal one; a culture shift amongst the Reclaim Hosting team. If you look at the above bullet point list, everything listed there boils down to support. Instructional Tech is support. There’s also a crossover between Instructional Tech and our Sales/Account Management team, in terms of understanding relationships and backstories, offering helpful recommendations, and being apart of initial onboarding conversations. There’s a lot of instructional tech work that our Sales/Account Management team has already been doing as well, like workshops, trainings, and consultative meetings. Finally, for every edge case and unique digital project that needs to diagnosed and/or hosted at Reclaim, our Infrastructure team plays an essential role in making sure these projects are running successfully. What’s more, we look to our Infrastructure team to help facilitate internal professional development trainings. Instructional Tech bleeds into everything that we already do externally, but also internally as well. So, it makes sense that this feels like more than just a new service we’re providing. It’s changing the way that we work internally to undo perceptions, change mindsets, and create purposeful crossover amongst the teams. I really believe that the introduction of Instructional Tech at Reclaim will not only provide more pathways of engagement for our community, but also for our employees.
To end, I’ll mention that Reclaim’s second Community Chat will take place tomorrow, Feb 9, and I don’t think it could come at a better time. The chat is called “State of Reclaim” and all teams will be invited to participate & speak briefly about the work that they’re doing, amongst other things. I’m looking forward to it!
Blog Post Featured Image: “over the sun” by Meyer Felix is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
I love this, because it means I don’t feel alone with the changes just the sheer imagining of instructional technology at Reclaim Hosting is leading towards. It really does provide an ethos-first, mission-driven frame for the work we have already been doing, and I think building on this with people and resources has been key. Taylor and Pilot have been phenomenal in us realizing there are folks who want to work at Reclaim who already have mad skills, and they understand higher ed deeply, their hearts are many ways still there, and that is crucial. But I think the broader shift in us being able to look up from the hard work we have been doing and see something on the horizon is fun and necessary, I am super excited for what we talk about in our weekly edtech meetings, and I still have more ideas to add to that list :)
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