This is the third year in a row Reclaim has sponsored the OER conference, but arguably the first more formally as Reclaim Hosting. It was going to be hard to top last year’s performance as Reclaim Video, and we may have run the risk of getting a bit stale the second time around. In fact, it’s the first and only conference we have sponsored as Reclaim Hosting besides our own, which begs the question why? Well, it’s actually pretty simple answer, which is nice because that means this will be a pretty short post. When I was invited to speak at the OER16 conference in Edinburgh it was under the impression that these Association for Learning Technologies (ALT) was this big organization with lots of money similar to something like EDUCAUSE in the US. I was expecting this somewhat impersonal, conference chicken experience at least from the organizers, but was somewhat ambivalent because I had already been a fan of Martin Hawksey and I knew he had recently gone to work for ALT. But, again, I was thinking he had to make his peace with working for the proverbial “MAN” like we all do sooner or later.
But then I met Maren Deepwell, and everything changed. I think the highlight of my experience at OER16 was chatting with Maren and being blown away to learn that ALT was a tight, scrappy skeleton crew that had in many ways adopted the orphaned OER conference after budgets cuts and expired grants made it all but impossible for others to sustain. I quickly became a “big fan,” as they say. I was fascinated that such a small crew could not only be so damned effective, efficient, and friendly, but were doing all this on an ostensibly shoestring budget. There were no big sponsors, no vendor room, and no in your face salesman, so I figured I could change all that! Only kidding, but I did figure that what ALT is doing for the OER community in the UK and beyond was similar to what Reclaim Hosting is doing for instructional technologists, digital humanists, and IT folks when it comes to academic infrastructure. And, when I returned from OER16 I was all but certain we were going to try and help in anyway we could, and we did. That’s that.
We are not not beyond saying we want folks to learn more about Reclaim Hosting and Domain of One’s Own, etc., but arguably most of the folks who will be at OER19 already host through us, or at least know of us—so I’m not sure it’s all that strategic in terms of “sales.” But that’s kind of the point, these are the people that have made us and we want to support the ethos of this group that has not only saved a conference that has become a yearly highlight for me personally, but one that brings together all the best people we have and have not yet met. So in that spirit, it’s Reclaim Hosting’s honor and privilege to support all the hippies behind OER19, and we very much look forward to meeting you all. We’ll be the one’s with the VHS GIFs!
You can also read this post in Jim’s own domain.