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Launching Instructional Tech

Last week, Reclaim Hosting reached a big milestone: launching a new Instructional Technology service. Our team has been working on this for months, and you can read my some of my thoughts on what it has meant to embed Instructional Tech into the fabric of Reclaim here. For today’s post, and for the next few weeks, I think it is important that we sit with the “what” and “why” before jumping into the “how.” Don’t get me wrong, “how” we’re delivering Instructional Tech is an essential discussion and one that deserves a moment in the sun, but reserving time to honor “why” we’re doing this, and “what” it is we’re actually doing? That comes first!

This was my thought process when designing out the initial website. I wanted it to feel like an introduction… to break down the “why” and then dive a little deeper into what’s possible.

In One Sentence

The header section makes the overview plain as day: Simply put, this is professional development and intentional community support built specifically with Educational Technologists in mind.

The mission section that comes next may be helpful for our community, but it was equally helpful for our team to write. This practice got us on the same page internally, and allowed us to sit with questions like, Why do we want to do this? What are we committing to? Who is this for? What are the goals?

The Larger Mission

We are committed to helping educational technologists do what they do best.

Reclaim Hosting has been providing edtech infrastructure for higher ed for almost 10 years. Now we want to work more directly with the people on the ground and build a broader professional development community for instructional technologists. These platforms are only as interesting as the people behind them, and it’s our goal to create a structure to help edtechs explore, question, learn, and build the future of teaching and learning together. We want to be a niche support hub and learning community for curious minds and creative tinkerers, whether you have a background in Instructional Design, advanced IT Support, or sit somewhere in between like most Instructional Technologists. Join as we explore what’s possible.

What’s Included

I had a lot of fun during the brainstorming phase while we were putting together the actual service plan. In short, Instructional Tech encompasses a lot of the work that Reclaim Hosting has already been doing (the Reclaim Roadshow, for example) except now at a larger scale: more structure, more consistent events, a wider breadth of learning topics, and a lively community space everywhere in between. Breaking that down, Instructional Tech at Reclaim includes:

  1. Consistent, repeating workshops for Domain of One’s Own and WordPress Multisite projects that you can count on for onboarding and refreshers.
  2. Flex Courses, usually spanning the length of a month, on a varying range of topics like docker containers, open source tools, gravity forms, and more.
  3. “Domains Pen Pals” – you’ll be introduced to folks from other schools with similar goals & interests to strategize and learn alongside each other.

Event Calendar

In the next section I broke down the calendar of events a little further by just barely getting into the “how” territory in order to help new viewers begin to conceptualize what’s possible. Instructional Tech is exciting for us because we’ll have the opportunity to work with key players in the community to help lead workshops and flex courses. Tom Woodward will be leading our Flex Course on Gravity Forms, which I’m particularly stoked about, as well as helping run our workshops on WordPress Multisite throughout the year. My hope is that, over time, we will have a new person headlining the flex courses each month so that we can highlight a diverse group of individuals doing cool stuff.

This section of the site also allowed me to really frame out a space for Reclaim Hosting Events (reclaimhosting.com/events) in general, and even play with a new plugin called The Events Calendar. The plugin is super slick and incredibly easy to work with. We have the Pro version so we can embed the calendar elsewhere, add in recurring events for newsletter publications, highlight hybrid events, and more. There’s still a lot of customizing that can be done here, and I’ll be excited to see this space grow over time.

Community

I’m quite excited for the Instructional Tech Discord server, which is being rolled out as a part of this larger service to help build intentional community support. When running workshops, conferences, and in-person training events, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard things like, “If only there was a way to get all DoOO Libraries together to talk about X” or “I’d love to see how other schools are working with SPLOTs” or “How are other WPMS schools using plugins?” In the past we’ve tried to point folks to our community forums as a place for these conversations, but ultimately that space has felt bulky, inflexible, and in some ways too open for strategic, sensitive conversations. Oppositely, the Discord environment has been amazing in past virtual events and has allowed folks to speak more frankly and with more personality. So much so, that as events are ending, we have been have asked to keep Discord up and running for future conversations. Managing a Discord server does require some overhead, so it was never something Reclaim could agree to long term for a past event.

Now, by having a single Discord server for all events and Domains PenPals, as well as a steady stream of blog posts, tweets, and links to various resources, we’re excited to keep this one around for the long haul to use during and between events throughout the year. Anyone will be able to get access to the Discord server to introduce themselves, share ideas & resources, and hangout in future community chats. Folks that are a part of the larger Instructional Tech professional development subscription will then have full access to event & domains penpal channels as well. :) Looking forward to sharing more on this in future posts.

Call to Action & Coming Soon

In the final section of the page, I’ve highlighted our next event (and first in the larger ProfDev subscription) as well as a link to share interest in learning more about what’s possible.

I think this webpage gives a great overview about Instructional Tech at Reclaim Hosting, as well as a look into what’s coming soon. I like that there’s room to grow, and we’ve built in flexibility on the front end to add in more events, training opportunities, and room for community engagement as this grows. Additionally, I also have to take a moment to shout out Bryan Mathers, who has once again nailed it in the art department. The art alone deserves a separate post. :)

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