Three and a half weeks later and still marveling at the amazing experience and people at OpenEd16 in Richmond, Virginia. I want to thank all of you who shared your reflections and presentation slides with me. If you find anything missing that should have been shared here, please add in as a comment, all are welcome.
First a big thanks to Quill West, Pierce College and Preston Davis, NOVA who organized and lead our sugar-infested CCCOER get together on Wed afternoon. Thanks to Jenny Quarles, VCCS who tweeted the only photo of the event. So many CCCOER members presented at the conference that I was only able to attend a fraction of those amazing sessions so this is an attempt to gather a few more of these in one place. Deeper reflections first and then SLIDE PRESENTATIONS at the end of the posting.
Kiri Dali, Digital Librarian, Lord Fairfax Community College, VA
This was my second year attending the Open Education Conference. The first year I was very new to the concept of open and really enjoyed learning about all the different facets of open education (OER, open pedagogy, open policies, etc.). It was great to go back a second time with more knowledge and experience to dive a bit deeper into these discussions. I felt that this year there was a bit more variety to the presentation topics, which I really enjoyed. I appreciated the inclusion of topics like fundraising and social media marketing for OER projects particularly, which relate well to how I personally work with OER. It was also great to be able to present on the project I work for called Knowledge to Work and our website at HigherEd.org. I was able to meet and have great discussions with others working in or interested in the realm of OER and competency-based education. I certainly returned to work with many great ideas, new connections, and renewed energy.
Amy Hofer, Coordinator, Statewide Open Education Library Services, openoregon.org
At last year’s Open Ed conference, I was surprised by some divisive comments that I heard which seemed to dismiss the goal of affordability in favor of open educational practices. Textbook affordability is a huge issue for Oregon’s community college students, many of whom are food insecure. OpenEd16 made it clear to me that the community has coalesced around a both/and approach to affordability and open pedagogy. I especially appreciated Sara Goldrick-Rab’s moving keynote on her research findings which show that the financial aid system is not helping our neediest students, many of whom leave higher ed with debt and no degree.
For me, the best thing about the conference was having time to slow down and learn about the wonderful work that open ed colleagues are doing. Hearing David Wiley talk about the Guidebook to Research on Open Educational Resources Adoption inspired me to offer funding for an Oregon OER Research Group now that I’ve seen how best practices for research on OER impact are clearly laid out by the Open Education Group’s team. (Side note: “fellowship” comes from a nongendered root word, but “group” doesn’t have any gender connotations so I chose that word instead.) I was also inspired by the course redesign trainings offered by Tacoma Community College and Pierce Community College; Open Oregon Educational Resources will have online, asynchronous trainings up and running for faculty starting this winter.
I’m still a relative newcomer to the Open Ed community – OpenEd16 was my second conference. I’m grateful to the organizers’ thoughtful planning and for the fact that my budget supports my attendance, since I returned feeling energized and with a bunch of new ideas to think about. Returning to the conference this year felt less overwhelming than my first time – I had more familiar faces to greet and a better sense of what I was looking for in conference sessions. For first-time attendees, I can recommend a second time!
Quill West, OER Project Manager, Pierce College District, CCCOER President
Every year I look forward to attending the Open Education conference, mostly because it gives me an opportunity to see good friends, get centered in my mission for openness in education, and enjoy a space where I don’t have to stop to explain just what it is that I do. However, this year was especially important for my work as both an advocate and leader for open education in my community, and as a teacher. First, I did enjoy the fellowship of people who celebrate openness. Most importantly, however, the 13th annual Open Education conference helped me with some much needed ideas for encouraging students to take an active role in affecting their college experience.
This year, the most important insights I found at Open Ed were related to student access and equity. At one point, in a session on the future of OER, I tweeted, “Cool point that @drkernohan raises- we can’t simultaneously argue for equality of access and stand in ivory towers. #OpenEd16.” I was really inspired by how many sessions at OpenEd this year were pointing out that while open often tries to approach equity and access as a central reason for our movement, our work is still largely rooted in an educational tradition that is somewhat exclusionary. That’s not to say that colleges, particularly community colleges, aren’t open access. It is to say that our missions of access are often stymied by the fact that we are institutions that have to pay bills, hire teachers, provide services, and treat our staff with respect that includes paying livable wages, and depend on funding systems that are imperfect. Beyond that, we have to try to balance a system that is inherently not balanced. By that I mean, we can’t fully fund every student who walks through our doors, because we would end up educating far fewer students. In fact, in many cases we can’t fully fund any students, because that leaves us financially incapable of supporting others who need us. We- meaning ourselves and our institutions- are pulled in a lot of different directions in terms of putting resources where they are most needed, and I like many of my colleagues often struggle with asking for resources that will support my work without robbing from other projects that are very valuable. This leads me to the profound keynote from Sara Goldrick-Rab, discussing her book “Paying the Price.” I found it an insightful discussion of the limitations of our current college affordability issues. In particular, the talk and the book provided a voice for students who don’t often get to use their voices effectively. I walked away from this year’s OpenEd feeling like there has to be a better way to both inspire and listen to the people who need our services the most. I’m hoping, over the next year, to turn to open pedagogy to build that voice.
Many of the presentations that centered around open pedagogy at this year’s conference focused on the need to move away from the disposable assignment to something more useful in terms of passing on knowledge to future students. I once again turn to David Wiley’s blog for descriptions of open pedagogy. One of the majorly important take-aways for students in an open pedagogy assignment, is that students are a part of a larger conversation that should affect their colleagues now and in the future. Open pedagogy says to students, “There is something bigger happening than your own learning.” That is a good thing, and a necessary thing. If we can teach our students now to see their words and actions as part of a bigger system of thinkers, doers, learners, and scholars, we can teach them to see their actions as having meaning. When a person’s work has meaning, she is more likely to take it seriously. That is one of my missions as an educator. I want the students that take my classes to know that their education means more than personal gain and personal goals. David Wiley once told me in an email that education is a social function, and while I think he might have meant something else. I take him at his word. Education is social, and it should have social impact. At that same talk where I tweeted about David Kernohan’s ideas about the Future of OER (see http://www.futuoer.org/), I also listened to Cable Green describe a world where students solved world problems in classrooms as part of meeting course outcomes – and where world-leaders incorporated their learning and problem solving. Both visions of our future remind me that we have a responsibility to realistically examine what we intend “education” to address in our world.
How does all this tie together? I’m still struggling with that. For now, I think my take-away is that the design of open pedagogy assignments should include some kind of tool to help students feel empowered to share their voice. Part of what I hope to design over the next year is a set of tools to solicit student voice in a way that is supportive our mission.
Una Daly, Director of Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER)
Two sessions stretched my vision of Open Education both geographically and timewise so I thought you might find them interesting. The OER World Map is a representation of OER projects across the world and they invite your participation — create a free account and put your OER project on the map. Rob Farrow from Open University posted the the slide presentation.
Also, I was honored to be invited to write a paper and participate in a panel on the Future of Open Education organized by by Norman Bier, Carnegie Mellon University and Brandon Muramatsu, MIT. 15 interesting articles about the future of OER were written by David Kernohan, Mary Lou Forward, Martin Weller & Patrick McAndrew, TJ Bliss, Paul Stacey, Mike Smith, Karen Willcox & Luwen Huang, Katsusuke Shigeta & Tomohiro Nagashima, Lorna Campbell, Cathy Casserly, Cable Green, Stephen Downes, Andy Lane and Willem van Valkenburg. The articles are all published on www.futuoer.org. My article may be found: http://www.futuoer.org/future-of-open-education-at-community-colleges/
The title of the presentation was Putting Knowledge to Work with HigherEd.org: A New Educational Portal and Search Engine Using OER in Competency-Based Education. My slides are very brief so it may be good to mention our websites at www.knowledgetowork.com and www.HigherEd.org for more info.
Preston Davis’s Presentation on College Affordability and Social Justice was live blogged by Rob Farrow of Open University. Some of the discussion takeaways were:
- Class divides are reinforced by higher education. Some scholarships are set aside for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, but does this really change structural patterns of disenfranchisement?
- If public education was made free, would this lead to a loss of resources through inefficiencies?
- Can we really act as if we are ‘difference-blind’?
- Is the difference between the student who goes on to higher education and the one who doesn’t a matter of money? Disenfranchisement has other elements, e.g. confidence, role models, self-interpretation, Much of these are the kind of ‘differences’ stripped out of the Rawlsian model.
- How can social justice be understood from the perspective of what is essentially privilege?
- Low cost vs. free?
Hope to see you next year at OpenEd 2017 (location, time to be announced)!