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Reflecting on Open Publishing Ecosystems

From an Amanda perspective.

If you were following along with Reclaim’s news and activities at the end of 2023, you’ve probably heard the term “Open Publishing Ecosystems” enough times to conjure a Reclaim EdTech TV in your living room. I can assure you that the enthusiasm from our end was genuine… this flex course was a long time in the making. Maybe it wasn’t technically planned during my final interview with the company back in April 2022, but the seed definitely sprouted there. Once Taylor and Jim came up with the Open Media Ecosystem flex course in December 2022, our little sproutling had a garden bed to settle into, and Open Publishing Ecosystems was added to our future flex course docket.

Now, yes, it did take a little while to actually get it scheduled; between all the things we already had planned and then my own maternity leave from June to September, OPE simply had to wait. Now that we’ve finished it, however, it feels like the right time to reflect and share a bit more specifically about why I wanted to plan this particular course for the Reclaim EdTech community.

Straight outta OER Publishing

I cut my teeth on small, community-based publishing in college and in my first real job upon graduating. When I was hired as SUNY’s OER Publishing Coordinator in 2018, I was first introduced to the concept of “Open” and I was hooked. The idea was particularly exciting for a young professional coming straight out of college, who had the opportunity to travel around New York state for conferences and meetings around the subject, talking to professors who cared a great deal about and put a ton of thought into making the learning experience as accessible and affordable as possible for their students. It was all electric; I was so lucky to get my start doing this kind of work.

OER was just the gateway to all of the other aspects of Open that I got a crash course in during my time in that role, each concept shaping my professional and educational philosophy one by one. Bringing students into the learning experience in ways that gives them ownership over their work while also allowing their work to build better learning experiences for future students? Well that’s Open Pedagogy, and that’s dope as hell. Creating programs and platforms that other people can copy and contribute to for a greater, communal good? Open Source ftw. And perhaps the most transformative part of this learning journey for me: Open taught me how things actually work, not just how to use various proprietary interfaces and tools. It taught me to think about how things actually work.

My previous work was pivotal to my professional development, but things change; positions get moved and adjusted, institutional priorities reconfigure… and the work came to an end. I missed that charge, and being part of a professional community that fostered it. If you’re familiar with Reclaim Hosting, it’s probably not taking you a ton of brainpower to figure out how and why I made my way to this company. The work is genuinely satisfying, and the company is full of EduPunk nerds with all the same Open values that I came to develop in my earlier career. The conversations I get to have with these folks on a regular basis about these ideas and the work we get to do to share them with the radical community of educators and those who support them makes me feel that electricity again.

So, when I got the opportunity to go back to my roots, so to speak, and serve up some Open Publishing know-how and resources through a flex course, you can bet I snatched it. And, boy, did it deliver.

Aligning Open Publishing Ecosystems with Reclaim Hosting

“But, Amanda,” you may ask, “Reclaim Hosting is a hosting company. What’s their interest in Open Publishing?”

There’s a few things there. Perhaps the most obvious is that, yes, we’re a hosting company, so of course we’re interested in Open Publishing! If you hand us an Open Source platform, chances are high that we can get it running on Reclaim Cloud. So we’d obviously love it if folks wanted to host their Open Source publishing platforms with us!

But, more than that, we’re actually invested in teaching people how to create and share content that they can own to the fullest possible extent. If you set up a publishing tool, for instance, within our infrastructure, there’s nothing about it that keeps you from moving it elsewhere. It’s not locked down and locked in. The benefit of that for you is clear, but for us? We get to work with people who want to work with us! We’re a human team through and through with actual values and interests, and our community is our biggest asset as a company.

Our goal, then, is simple: do the things that help people teach, learn, and create. And have a blast doing it.