Instructional Tech at Reclaim Hosting: a Crossover with Everything

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:

In short, Instructional Tech will allow us to do more.

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

Visiting Nashville: Vanderbilt & Team Trip

This past week I was in Nashville, TN with some of the Reclaim Hosting crew for a little bit of in-person fun. Since we’re a fully remote team at this point, it has always been a goal of ours to get everyone together at least once a year. (Previous trips have included New York City, Galway, Bristol, and Portland.) In-person trips have been a no-go with the pandemic, but now over two years later, our team looks vastly different and a trip was overdue. As with most events these days, not everyone was able to make it which was a bummer. I still look forward to the day where everyone can attend, but it was still pretty great to be able to connect with those who were able to make it in person.

And Reclaim is nothing if not efficient, so Pilot, Jim and myself actually arrived a day early to meet with Mickey Casad, Executive Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Digital Humanities, and others at Vanderbilt University. I’m coming to find on-campus talks to be so invigorating, and this one was no different.

walking out the door to meet for coffee with Jim and Pilot
Center for Digital Humanities Lab
Where the Center for Digital Humanities Lab lives- gorgeous!
walking on Vanderbilt’s beautiful campus

Jim and I split the talk into DoOO and Reclaim Cloud overviews and you can read through Jim’s perspective here. My big takeaways from the conversation:

  1. Don’t get bogged down in the tech when communicating the potential of a technical service. It can be really easy to slip into the deeper details when the tech is the subject of conversation. By resisting the urge this past week with Vanderbilt, we were able to better define the concepts of Domains and Reclaim Cloud, highlight work being done in the community, and think more critically with the folks in the room about how to bring it to campus. What’s more, this keeps the conversation engaging for all perspectives, instead of just those with a super tech-focused background.
  2. Thinking of Reclaim Hosting products and services as tiered or layered based on experience and needs. We’ve always believed that WordPress Multisite Hosting and cPanel Hosting were not at odds; that they could live alongside each other as parallel services to meet the needs of different users. This became all the more apparent when introducing Reclaim Cloud to the folks at Vanderbilt. By acknowledging that no single service will fill the gaps for all users, but that each service will fit the needs for most users, we can then begin to narrow in on who might best be served where. For instance:
    • Layer/Tier 1: WordPress Multisite – for the users that are scratching the surface of building out webspace
    • Layer/Tier 2: Domain of One’s Own – for the users that need a bit more freedom, storage space, and app flexibility
    • Layer/Tier 3: Reclaim Cloud – for the users with more niche requirements or ideas outside of the LAMP stack
  3. Full transparency is key. To pretend like we have all the answers would be silly. Reclaim Cloud is still fairly new, and we’re still very much trying to figure out where and how it can be best used in a classroom setting. I like that we’re open about this, and it allows schools to step up to the plate and work alongside us to make sense of what Reclaim Cloud means for them.

And now mostly for my own personal record, here are the slides that we used:

After wrapping up at Vanderbilt we were later joined in Nashville by Meredith, Goutam, Chris and Tim. We ended up staying at The 121 Hotel which I highly recommend! I chose this space not only for the cozy lodging, but also because we were able to rent out common areas for the duration of our trip. We had full kitchen, dining, and lounge areas which made it super convenient to work and hangout together on Friday and throughout the weekend.

The in-person team working together on Friday

Friday was definitely a highlight of the trip for me, as it brought us together to think critically about where we are as a company, and where we hope to be in the future. The goal was to walk away from the trip with each internal team (Sales, Support, Infrastructure) feeling like they have marching orders for the next year. Here was my rough outline for the day, along with some GIFs used on my slides, lol:

Friday’s Agenda

  • Early Morning: Coffee & Icebreakers
  • Mid Morning: State of the Union Reclaim Hosting: Where are we now? A celebration of the work done over the last year
  • Late Morning: Brainstorming– Trends in Higher Ed; Where do we want to be? What’s relevant? What’s possible? On the horizon? What are people asking for? What are people struggling with?
  • Lunch & Early Afternoon: Break out groups for Support, Sales, Infrastructure to discuss possible next steps & team goals
  • Mid/Late Afternoon: Show & Tell, get a game plan together
Tim thinking through failover in Reclaim Cloud
Goutam, Pilot, and Chris

The ideas were flowing, and it’s safe to say that we all left Nashville with a solid list of goals for 2022. We have our work cut out for us, but as our team continues to grow, the rate and scale for which this work can happen is even more exciting to me. Broad themes/takeaways from Friday:

  1. Understanding that the answer to “Why Reclaim?” may look differently depending on who you’re speaking to, both internally and externally, and it’s important that our ethos remains the same throughout all conversations. Product communication strategies amongst all teams.
  2. Continued growth and training in Reclaim Cloud. Placing priority and attention on Professional Development for all
  3. Making sure all services provided by Reclaim are accurately shown on the website and documentation.
  4. Continued/more engagement with Community through Reclaim Today, Case Studies and newsletters. New roadshows & events.
  5. Roadmap & security improvements in Infrastructure; thinking beyond cPanel and improvements to DoOO

I’m very excited for what’s to come. I’m also really happy with where we are now, and with everything we’ve accomplished so far. This weekend was an important reminder for me to feel both!

Friday night we reserved a Lounge Couch at Game Terminal, which is easily the coolest Arcade + Bar I’ve ever been to. Wasn’t able to get a group photo because everyone immediately dispersed to check out all the games, but here are a few snapshots:

SO many pinball games! The full list can be found here.

On Saturday, we had no real plan besides exploring Nashville. We started out at the Nashville Parthenon before splitting up to take on the city.

We used the Old Town Trolley Tours to hop on & off at different stops around Nashville. I highly recommend if you’re not sure where to go or if you need a quick way to get around! We finished Saturday evening at the Escape Room right downtown, and by golly, we escaped!

Feeling thankful and excited to be apart of such a cool team. Until next time, Nashville!

Building Culture at Reclaim

I feel like I’ve had writer’s block for weeks now. I’ve been most productive with the monotonous tasks that I had been putting off for some time. Some days I work for hours without moving, while other days I can’t sit still for more than a couple of minutes. There’s no doubt that we all have been coping differently with an anxiety-inducing global pandemic, and I have been no exception. But as the states are slowly starting to introduce phases of reopening, I finally feel hopeful that we’ll return to some sense of normalcy soon enough. And with that feeling, I can sense the writer’s block beginning to lift. I’m getting back to a place where I can reflect on the work that I’m doing and where my thoughts have been since mid-March.

As things start to return to normal, there’s one thing (read: more than a one, but I’d like to keep this blog post short) in particular that I don’t want to forget about how I’ve shifted during this time:

I have been paying more attention to the people I am supporting instead of the tools they have questions about. This is a lesson that I catch myself relearning all the time, and it cannot be overstated no matter how much we may think it goes without saying. This simple shift makes me more understanding and caring in my general correspondence and meetings. It makes me more observant, which as a result helps me anticipate problems and fix them before they even occur. Basically, I just become a much better human being and others benefit from it. It can be very easy to get wrapped up in the technology that we’re using, but it will never hurt to take a step back, breathe, and show grace.

With that in mind, I’ve had a chance to think more broadly about the type of manager I want to be for others at Reclaim Hosting. Where can I tweak and adjust and improve internal workings, and where do I need to sit back and listen more? How can I make sure that I’m ‘visible’ while working remotely? Where should I be showing grace and understanding, and where can I be holding others accountable? These reflections are healthy at any point, though I’m especially stoked to have had more down time to think through this over the last few weeks. Next Tuesday, one of our Customer Support Specialists, Katie Hartraft, will be joining Reclaim Hosting full time as an Account and Support Specialist. Her dual role will be the first of its kind at Reclaim, though not unlike others in the way that she will be wearing many hats. Katie will continue to support the good people of Reclaim Hosting for part of her time by answering tickets, writing documentation, etc., but she’ll slowly move into the account management and sales side of Reclaim for the other half of her time. Katie has plenty of experience with Domain of One’s One as a recent UMW grad, and she’s been killing it at Reclaim this last semester. I’m excited to work closely with her during this next chapter of her career, which also just happens to be a big milestone for Reclaim – a new hire for sales. :)

A full team meeting sans Tim/Jim :)

And on that note: Another noticeable shift at Reclaim has taken shape in the ability for Jim and Tim to slowly back out of the day-to-day and let the ship steer itself. My goal for them is to fully step back and become the Idea Guys while the day-to-day work moves on without them. I do think we’ve been well on our way to meet this goal for a while now, but in the last few weeks in particular the shift has felt real and attainable for the first time. This is most certainly a testament to the well-oiled-machine-of-a-team we’ve got going for us right now. Meredith as Customer Support Manager has beautifully handled growing pains as we’re moving into one of our busiest support years to date. Gordon, an all around workhorse, has been kicking ass on support and currently holds the sought-after lead on number of solved support tickets since the beginning of the year. Chris, meanwhile, is provisioning entire Domain of One’s setups in about 30 minutes. He’s a scripting genius, I tell you, and is no doubt keeping our sh*t secure, efficient and consistent across the board.

Jim and I recently spoke about these culture shifts, amongst other things, in our recent chat on DS106 Radio. He blogged about it here, and I’m attaching the recording below if you want to give it a listen.


whew. take that, writer’s block!

Screenshot Scenes

Scenes from the last few weekswhich in some ways have felt like a blur, and in other ways have been great quality time.

Dual monitor setup to watch Tim share ds106.tv for the first time!

Playing Quiplash with some Reclaim peeps to keep our minds off the news.

Recording an extended presentation for #OER20 :: Session available here!

Participating in #OER20– a brilliant event put on remotely by the lovely ALT folks + my DS106radio tab which has been open frequently these days. :)

KaraOERoke with the #OER20 crew… and a live stream on ds106.tv to boot.

Wrapping up March (i.e. our WordPress month) and jumping into April– the month of migrations!

Summer 2019 Check In

It has unintentionally become tradition for me to spend summers with Reclaim Hosting in a state of self-reflection as I organize my professional life, tackle a big project, and write a check-in blog post.

In the my early Reclaim days the big project and summer blog posts came in the form of self teaching and pumping out a ton of ‘how-to’ articles: Site Publisher: HTML 5, Static HTML Contact Forms, Generating a Backup, Updating WHOIS Information, Email Retrieval: POP vs. IMAP, & Understanding Email: MX Records.

During the summer of 2017, I set up KinHR, created a really basic company policy handbook, and transitioned our Sales accounts from Asana to SuiteCRM. This was also the summer that we held our first Domains conference!

Last summer, Jim and I did a deep clean of our CRM, and I added in a ton of custom fields that helped our overall ability to track the lifetime of a contract. And as a new Account Manager, I sent out the first semester newsletter to all accounts, keeping everyone up to date on the happenings at Reclaim.

Which brings me to this summer: Chris and Danny joined us few months back, we hosted our second Domains conference (part 1 & part 2), Jim and I traveled to WFU for a workshop, and I took on a new position at Reclaim! It has been a busy couple of weeks to say the least, and I don’t see things slowing down anytime soon. At the end of June I wrote out my Work Plan for the next year, and I have to say that I’m pretty jazzed for what’s to come. My intention will be to continue writing about these projects over the next year as way of self-reflecting and keeping myself accountable.

With that in mind, the first item on my Work Plan is to transition Reclaim Hosting accounts from SuiteCRM to Zendesk Sell. I think when I set up SuiteCRM originally, I always knew that there was a likelihood of us growing out of it one day, and that day has most certainly come. What’s more, Reclaim already uses Zendesk for support tickets, so the jump to a Zendesk CRM environment was not hard to grasp. In fact, the Support and Sales environment are integrated really well so a Support Agent can notify a Sales Agent of an incoming lead with a single click. I can feel myself starting to sound a little advertise-y here so I’ll stop while I’m ahead and simply say that this move is really, really good for us. I’ve been transitioning accounts over to Sell for the last few weeks, and I’ll blog more about that progress soon.

Lastly, I can’t write a Summer 2019 Check-In post without recounting the recent ice cream party that took place on a particularly warm afternoon last week. I was so bummed that I missing out (a big downside of working remotely) and before I knew it I heard a knock on my front door. The Fredericksburg crew sent ice cream to my home!! I ended up joining the party on the robot and it was just like I was sitting around the table with the RH team + Tim’s family that was visiting!

After ice cream, Tim shared some of his adventures with Virtual Reality (he just blogged about this here), which was another cool moment of the afternoon as well. He walked around the streets of his hometown, and we got to see the house where he grew up. Meanwhile my fiancé had come home for the day, noticed I was eating ice cream at my desk, and ended up looking over my shoulder to see what I was up to. His quote, after observing for a few minutes: “You’re rolling around on a robot, you’ve got a family in the conference room, your boss has a VR headset on, and they just delivered ice cream to your door. Your job is pretty cool.”

Yep… I would have to agree. :)

February List: Handy Tools & Applications

Every now and then I’ll come across an insanely cool application or digital tool that makes life just a little easier. I thought I’d put a list together of my favorites and share below:

Note-Taking

1. Bear

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of note-taking tools out there, but this one is something special. First of all, Bear works and syncs between all various devices, so you can have your notes with you wherever you go. This editor is dead simple to use, clean and organized.

Why I’m converting: I’ve used Apple’s Notes feature for the longest time, used Evernote for a while too, and even have various jots down on my TextEditor, TextMate. I’m slowly finding myself more often opening Bear to take notes during meetings, track to-do lists, etc. because it’s quick and customizable. There’s no toolbar at the top, so adding checkboxes, for example, is done with a quick hyphen space maneuver. I can also change fonts, add tags to my notes, type in Markdown, and enter into Dark Mode. It handles everything that a normal notetaker does, but its the little things that make the biggest difference.


Editor/ Terminal/ FTP

2. Codeanywhere

Is it a Code Editor? Remote FTP Client? Terminal Console? Collaboration Editor? Let me just save you the guesswork and tell you CodeEditor is all of the above. I haven’t tested out every single feature yet, but my experience with it so far has been seamless and intuitive.

From a support standpoint, I could see this tool being really handy for FTP. For a user that’s never heard of S/FTP, telling them in a support ticket that they need to install a Client on their computer in order to connect is honestly kind of off-putting. FTP already has a laundry list of steps needed to create a successful connection, so being able to take away even just one of those steps is awesome.

I was actually made aware of this tool by a professor in a support ticket asking if his students could use CodeAnywhere with their Reclaim Hosting accounts. (The answer is yes.) But with the collaborative elements and remote features, I can easily see where this could be helpful in a classroom environment, too.


Calendar

3. Timepage

Timepage is a Calendar assistant built by Moleskine. I’ve had it installed on my phone for the last month or so and am really loving it. This app unlike any other calendar out there in terms of user experience, customizable features, integrations, and overall design. The above screenshots don’t really do it justice.

I also love the heads up it gives me for each day on my iPhone summary page (when you swipe all the way to the left). It integrates & syncs beautifully with my desktop calendar in Spark, which I also use quite frequently when I’m on my computer and working through my inbox. Timepage also connects with my contacts, maps, and applications like Weather and Uber. I definitely recommend checking itout and playing around with it yourself!


Screencast

4. Loom

Loom is a free Screen & Video Recorder that’s built straight in your browser. Again– there are plenty of these sorts of tools out there, but it was a game changer for me to learn that Loom integrates directly with Slack, an internal messaging tool that Reclaim Hosting basically runs on.

Not only can I publish recordings and create public links to share, but I can also share directly in Slack from the Loom window to a specific channel or conversation. Works like a charm! I also have the option of organizing my videos into different folders within the Loom dashboard. For instance, I have a folder called ‘support scenarios’ where I filter recordings that I’ve created to send to folks in support tickets or DoOO admins.

OER 18: Reclaim Video & Cloudron

Now that I’m on the tail end of this trip, I feel like I can finally wrap my head around the last 10 days and gather my thoughts for a blog post. Last week, the Reclaim team met in Bristol for the OER 18 Conference. The entire experience was definitely a mix of ups and downs, but that’s not a result of OER’s doing; I got sick and had to back out of the second day of the conference & my presentation slot. (Ugh, talk about timing.) It was a huge bummer to prepare so hard for something to then not have a chance to share it, but I’m incredibly grateful to be apart of such a solid team that was able to step in for me. Apparently, they rocked the house!

It was always my intention to share the presentation slides & summarize the talk in a post after the fact for reference, so I’ll definitely be doing that as my small way to make up for missing the real deal. But first, I wanted to share other photos and thoughts from the first day of the conference because it was incredible! After running the Domains 17 conference last year, I have a much deeper level of respect for the folks that run these events year after year, especially when they’re done so thoughtfully and seamlessly.

Day One

^On our way out the door for the first day of #OER18!

Firstly, the venue for the OER event was absolutely wonderful. The conference took place on the second floor of a theater that sat right on the water. There was a cafe, plenty of space to catch up with friendly faces, and talks were given in traditional auditorium-like spaces.

Reclaim Video also made a grand entrance by introducing the promo video for domains, new website, and hosting a VHS table situated in one of the main conference galleries. Reclaim Video even convinced Reclaim Hosting to change their look as well. :)

^This artwork created by Bryan Mathers has been a long time coming– it was created back when we were envisioning how Reclaim Video would mesh with Reclaim Hosting. I’ve written a post sharing these details here.

Later that day, Jim and Tim gave a 15-min lightning talk on Cloudron.io which was super awesome to hear. The point of the presentation was to give a (brief) overview of the ‘app store’-like hosting environment, how we’re considering Cloudron’s potential as a part of Reclaim’s future, and whether or not audience members might be interested in something like this. Though the talk was short, being able to gauge the audience’s reaction was incredibly rewarding.

It’s safe to say that the Reclaim Team left all the more motivated to continue thinking through how Cloudron might be integrated with or (dare I say it) replace cPanel one day. Tim has already begun to build out the beginnings of a Cloudron interface/DoOO alternative, but I’ll save that for another post. ;)

I also felt particularly attached to the keynote at the end of day one given by Dr. Momodou Sallah, a Reader in Globalisation and Global Youth Work at the Social Work, Youth and Community Division, De Montfort University, UK. I was drawn to the work he’s done for and with Global Hands, a Social Enterprise/Charity operating in The Gambia.

I was heavily involved in outreach/charity work throughout my high school & college years, so his talk really pulled at my heartstrings. I also thought it was an incredibly refreshing take on the Openness theme in an OER conference setting. For me, Dr. Sallah’s talk was an important reminder that learning in the open extends way beyond the traditional 4-walled, classroom setting. There’s always more we can be and should be doing to bring underprivileged areas of the world up to speed with not only the latest technologies of learning but the basic necessities of human life.

After his talk, we all made our way outside to end Day One with a beautiful boat tour around the venue:

Super thankful to have been apart of this conference, if only for a day. And a special thanks to Maren Deepwell, Martin Hawksey, and the rest of the OER team for pulling off an incredible event & helping us bring our Reclaim Video dreams to life.

Stay tuned for an overview of the Workshop presentation summary post!

Reclaim Projects

Gosh, the last few weeks have been quite a whirlwind! I’ve got a few blog posts in the queue that I’m hoping to crank out over the next few days, time willing. Reclaim Hosting is juggling a handful of projects at the moment, and my position as Operations Manager as never felt more relevant. I’m incredibly thankful for the Reclaim Team- especially Meredith (and now Chris!)- for being so stellar on support. Their willingness to take on tickets as allowed me to be able to step back from the support roll slightly to focus more intently on managing the projects below.

Workshop of One’s Own

A large chunk of my time over the last months/weeks have been devoted to our second Workshop of One’s Own. This two-day event built for Domain of One’s Own administrators blends conceptual, technical training with strategies for promotion and community outreach. We’re even bringing in the great Alan Levine to work with participants on SPLOTs. The new outline has proven to be quite popular- we’ve more than doubled our attendee numbers from November! Our Workshop last fall had 6 participants, while 14 people will be joining us in Fredericksburg next week. Check out the list of schools below:

It’s going to be a great line up! I’m very much looking forward to meeting and/or reacquainting with these administrators & technologists in person. For anyone following along, feel free to check out our event itinerary here.

Reclaim Video

I gave an overview of Reclaim Video here, but we’ve come quite a long way since that post was published. Jim has done a great job of documenting our progress thus far, but I thought I’d jump into the conversation as well.  Where to begin! Over the last month and a half, we’ve stripped down the once-office space to the basics, created the logo and have painted the walls black and gray with RGB stripes along the ceiling border. During these renovations, I’ve made it my goal to get us prepared as possible to fill the space as soon as it’s ready. We’ve ordered a storefront sign, carpet, t-shirts & stickers, blank VHS tapes & their assorted labels, hard plastic VHS cases, movie posters, and have begun to build out shelves. The other day, Tim & I even drove to Winchester to pick up a display case & front desk that I found on Craigslist.

I know that I was dragging my feet at the thought of building a physical space for 80’s VHS, but I’ll be the first to admit: it has been a blast to create. I wasn’t even a mere thought in the 80’s, so I don’t personally connect with the ‘art exhibit’ factor that the space will bring (as fascinating as it will be). My personal motivation lies with the idea that we’re building a space dedicated to technology that is not new. VHS is not new. This rings true for Reclaim Hosting’s products as well. When I’ve spoken in person or on video chats with educational institutions, this theme is always brought to the surface. What we’re selling– web hosting– is not new. It’s actually very rudimentary. We offer the space and the building blocks to create and explore. So for me, coming to this discovery over the last few weeks has been very rewarding.

I’m excited to continue designing out the space and adding key elements that will make it feel authentic. (Does anyone have a Commodore 64, by chance?) We’re also asking anyone and everyone to donate their VHS tapes to the cause. So if you’ve got ’em, send ’em!

OER ’18 Conference

While this hasn’t taken precedence as much here recently, the Open Education Research conference is this coming April 18 – 19th. After Workshop of One’s Own has passed, we’ll be switching gears to prepare for our talks for the event. Between Tim, Jim, Meredith, and myself, the Reclaim Team has three conference sessions:

// Presentation – Ghost in a Shell: Moving Beyond LAMP Hosting for Open Source Applications: Read abstract here
// Presentation – Strategies for Supporting Your Community in the Open: Read abstract here
// Workshop – Digital Literacy: Reclaiming Your Space: Read abstract here

In addition to speaking, we’ll also be sponsoring the conference as Reclaim Video. (Reclaim Hosting who?) You can read our sponsorship add here.

RH Website Additions

I’ve also had the opportunity to make minor updates to the main website for Reclaim Hosting. Creating the WordPress Multisite Pricing Calculator was definitely a big one. I cleaned up our footer menu a bit, as well as updated this list. (Fun fact: that community list is my favorite page on the website.)

The Blog feed needed a little work as well. We were having to manually import featured images, which is way too much overhead and kind of defeated the purpose of a feed. So I changed the structure on the back end, tweaked a few theme settings, and voilà:

^We have images! I’d still like for the entries to show excerpts rather than the post, but that will come. Remember, this is a progress post, people!

Lastly, I’ve created a hidden section called Institutional Documents. It’s nothing fancy at the moment, but it’s becoming a great resource for schools looking to work with Reclaim and maybe need to get a jumpstart on the paperwork. I’ve created a digital version of all contracts and questionnaires that we use, and give folks the option create a downloadable .PDF version at the bottom of each page. We’ll still obviously attach hard copy versions to our conversations, but in the spirit of keeping Reclaim open and accessible, I thought this was needed.

Stepping into Domain of One’s Own

Over time, this web space has naturally become a collection of tutorials, guides & how-tos for navigating a Reclaim Hosting account. Documentation makes for really easy blog posts. And I’m constantly learning something at Reclaim. So when I learn something, I blog it. It’s been a great system.

That said, there’s a whole other side of my position at Reclaim that I don’t blog about often, likely because it still feels new and a bit intimidating. But it’s beginning to take up so much of my time that I simply can’t ignore it any longer!

I’ve always had a serious interest in the “people” side of Reclaim Hosting. And by that, I mean discussing with folks at institutions about supporting Domain of One’s Own on their campuses. For those who are new to the scene, Domain of One’s Own is a package offered by Reclaim Hosting to schools who are interested in giving their students and faculty members a space to explore what it means to have an online identity. Everyone who signs up through the customized single sign-on portal is given access to their very own cPanel account & domain. There’s generally a couple (if not a full team) of folks at the school that then spearhead the project and act as liaisons between students/faculty & Reclaim Hosting support. Continue reading “Stepping into Domain of One’s Own”

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