The Open Education Conference 2017 took place in mid-October in Anaheim, California, with hundreds of attendees from around the globe. Presentations covered a variety of open education topics and included many presentations from CCCOER members. This year CCCOER was able to host a breakfast gathering for members on the first day of the conference. The breakfast featured guest speaker Susan Huggins, The Open Education Consortium’s Communications Director, who spoke about creating a social media presence for OER projects. The event was also a great opportunity to connect with fellow CCCOER members early on in the conference.
Please enjoy the various perspectives some of our CCCOER members shared on the event below. We have also shared the slide presentations from several presentations our members made at OpenEd17 at the end of this post. Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences and presentation slides with us. If you have anything to add, please comment below!
Amy Hofer, Coordinator, Statewide Open Education Library Services, OpenOregon.org
The Open Ed conference is growing, and the thing that I appreciated most about the conference this year was that the community as a whole took a thoughtful approach to that growth. This was done in lots of different ways: there were excellent keynotes on inclusion and equity in open ed, I found multiple explicitly feminist session topics, and we did a “speed-dating” activity during the unconference where we had a chance to meet many participants in one hour (this was way more fun than I expected it to be). My takeaway was that while there is a social justice element in providing access to low-cost course materials – which the wonderful Santa Ana student panelists reminded us of – we can go much further in making our open materials and communities of practice reflect these values as well.
Dr. Nathan Smith, OER Coordinator and Philosophy Faculty, Houston Community College
This year was the second year that I attended OpenEd along with a few of my colleagues from Houston Community College, Steve Levey, Amy Tan, and Aaron Knight. We presented an outline of the implementation of our Z-Degree program, which seemed to be well received. While I have been involved on some level in using and promoting OER for about 5 years, I was not aware of all that was going on in the OER community until attending OpenEd. The OpenEd16 conference was an eye-opener and inspired the members of our OER team at HCC to dive right into OER promotion at HCC. This year, I felt much more at home in the conference, but I still learned a tremendous amount. I benefited from discussions at the Unconference around organizing events and the problem of platforms. I was impressed by efforts going on at other campuses, such as the “Content Camp” at OSU, the journal and library redesign at Humbolt State, and the really great community college efforts at Santa Ana, Connecticut Online Learning, and Saddleback. The talk by David Bollier on the Commons was one of the most intellectually stimulating talks of the conference. As a philosopher by training, I’m still thinking about how political theory might help think about the social and behavioral dimensions of OER. I also appreciated the candid and bracing self-reflection that takes place at this conference. It reminds me of activist circles. Sometimes we can be our own worst critics, but at the same time, there is tremendous value in promoting divergent voices. I still feel a bit like a n00b, but the community is so welcoming and generous that I am encouraged to keep learning and sharing.
Regina Gong, OER Project Manager and Manager of Technical Services and Systems, Lansing Community College, CCCOER VP of Professional Development
This year was my third time attending the Open Ed conference. I really was eagerly anticipating this conference because of the chance to reconnect with my open education/OER family, meet the amazing folks I have been following on Twitter but yet to meet in person, and lastly get together and meet with my Open Education Group research fellows. Each year that I attend Open Ed, I feel that it has grown not only in numbers but in the way the movement strives to be more open and inclusive. I really loved the student panel from Santa Ana College that was moderated by Cherylee Kushida and Jodi Coffman. I see in them the same students we have at Lansing Community College who are all so grateful for not having to spend on their textbooks because faculty choose to use OER. We tend to downplay the cost savings part of OER because it is so much more than that. While I agree that OER are more than just free materials, it is the fact that it is free and saves students money and consequently, what those savings enable these students to do, served as a much-needed reminder that what we do impacts their lives. I really appreciated their honesty, candidness, sharing, and gratitude which they conveyed to everyone in the room. I also had my share of presentations this year when I participated in a panel of OpenStax institutional partners moderated by Nicole Finkbeiner. I really enjoyed working yet again with Sue Tashjian, Jody Carson, and Kathy Labadorf. And of course, our CCCOER panel this year with my favorite people in the Executive Council: Una Daly, Preston Davis, Lisa Young, and Quill West. I’m also grateful that I stayed long enough to be part of the Friday afternoon session on how we can destroy the open ed movement. The discussions that ensued from the session hopefully will make open ed more diverse, equitable, participatory, and most of all truly inclusive. Many thanks to all the folks who led this session both in person and virtually. If you want to see the notes from the discussion, take a look here. Looking forward to a bigger, better, more inclusive Open Ed 2018 conference wherever that may be.
Dr. Wm. Preston Davis, Director of Instructional Services, Extended Learning Institute, Northern Virginia Community College, CCCOER VP of Policies and Partnerships
I always look forward to attending the Open Ed Conference. I have a great deal of respect for the people who plan and host the conference, and for the growing number of participants who pursue open education solutions and share their ideas and works at this conference. The familiar faces that I see at OpenEd energize and inspire me, and the new faces remind me that there is still plenty of work to be done. This year brought many more new faces and voices to the openness conversation than in previous years, and that was gratifying. When I reflect on OpenEd17 there are a couple of themes that stand out in my mind.
Student Experience. While a student panel is not a new idea, it remains a highly effective way to understand the impact that OER has on students. The students on this panel repeatedly expressed that what meant the most to them was no-cost and easy access. These students all faced multiple obstacles to their education that were overcome with the help of open educational resources, but access to free digital learning materials remains paramount and was what mattered most to the students. I encourage everyone to listen to these students share their personal experiences with OER. Access and affordability may not be the only benefits of open, but they are at the forefront in supporting student equity and opportunity.
Critical Reflection. One concern that I often experience is the effect that Group Think can have on openness. We all want to take OER above and beyond, and many see opportunities to deliver OER in new and effective ways, but when we change the conversation about OER to focus on business practices that rely on specific permissions rather than what matters most to students, we risk shifting away from open educational resources and toward open teaching resources. When this happens, students shift from beneficiaries to consumers. I was impressed with some of the conversations that occurred at OpenEd17, particularly the Destroying Open session that raised important ethical questions about the heart and soul of open education. We all need to continue to think critically, ask questions, and openly express our thoughts. We all play a role in shaping the future of open education… the OER movement is OUR movement.
Liz Yata, CCCOER Support Specialist, Open Education Consortium
As an administrative support specialist for the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources, I don’t have a background in education and I don’t go to many events like OpenEd, but this year I had the opportunity to attend the first day of OpenEd 2017. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. I knew the basics of OER: what open means, the cost savings for students, the freedom to reuse and remix educational materials for faculty, but the depth of my understanding was limited.
In the morning, during the panel with local California community college students, I was reminded of the huge impact that OER has on students. They really put a human face on the cost savings, and the impact those savings have on students’ lives. Knowing that a student will save $200 is different than knowing that that $200 can now be spent on food or taking care of a student’s children.
Later I went to panels that discussed a number of things like the importance of equity and diversity in OER and of teaching students media literacy. These were an important reminder that the “E” for education in OER is ultimately more important than the “O” for open.
But most of all I was inspired by the number of attendees at OpenEd and their passion for education and helping students. Now when I toil away in my home office and get frustrated with the small stuff, I remember that I am helping support this wonderful community of passionate and dedicated faculty, librarians and administrators all working to improve people’s lives through education.
Quill West, OER Project Manager, Pierce College District, CCCOER President
OpenEd 2017 was all about critical conversations for me. The conference gave a lot more time for connection- with longer breaks, a whole block of time devoted to round-tables, a big mixer, and the Unconference activities. I really appreciated the chance to critically examine our practices and to work with each other to better define the goals of our movement. I am hopeful that the introspection that seemed prevalent at this conference continues throughout the open education movement in the next year so that we can begin to get a stronger grasp on why we are asking our institutions to invest in OE as a strategy that opens up more than access to educational resources.
Una Daly, Director of Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER)
This was another amazing Open Education Conference for me – I think it is my sixth or seventh and it actually took place in my home state for the first time. I was impressed with the thoughtful presentations, conversations, and efforts to include more early stage practitioners. So many highlights: the student panel that opened the conference, equity and bias panel, media literacy presentation, OER examples from around the world, Uncommon Women, and that was just the first day. I enjoyed the Table Sessions on Thursday morning which provided opportunities for deeper conversations. I used the Thursday afternoon unconference time to chat with folks who wandered by the hallway where I was supposedly working on my slides.
There were more vendors at this conference than I can remember previously and who were positively promoting open education and OER. It is still too early to tell where this is going but the conversations were more nuanced and interest in how educators might utilize tools and help drive product direction were expressed.
Cathy Casserly’s keynote on Friday morning posed difficult questions that made me think more about how the open education community includes or excludes those who don’t fit our existing models. She encouraged us to start conversations with new people at the conference and re-examine our approaches. I think the message was ignored by many because it made us feel a little uncomfortable and that is well uncomfortable for us. I look forward to exploring the topic of inclusion in future convenings.
CCCOER’s Friday panel featured some of our Executive Council members reviewing the top topics on our community email list “When the Unicorn Breaks A Leg: Using the CCCOER Community of Practice to Meet Challenges in Open Education” and then opening up the discussion to topics from the many great folks who attended our session. Topics ranged from how to motivate others at your college to adopt OER to how can librarians support OER adoption. The panelists made a special effort to let the audience ask the questions and also provide the answers just as our community functions when online over email and in the chat window at our webinars.
to Kiri Dali, Digital Librarian for “Knowledge to Work” at Lord Fairfax Community College and CCCOER Executive Council Member, who manages our guest blog posts and although unable to attend OpenEd this year, put this terrific OpenEd17 Reflection together.
The Critical Role of Faculty in Growing Your OER Initiative from Sue Tashjian
Santa Ana College OER Student Panel OpenEd 2017 from Santa Ana College
Unleashing Z Monster: Maybe the Future is Not So Scary from Nathan Smith