As many of you know, this week I had the honor of co-chairing the Open Education Research conference. Originally it was to take place in London, but due to the pandemic, our face-to-face gathering was unfortunately canceled, which was very disappointing for me as I have been working to design and support this work since last summer. But thankfully, the committee voted to try to take it online. In two weeks’ time the whole conference plan was transformed, and this change made it possible for people to register for free. The result was a much larger gathering – some 1200+ participants joined. I am so grateful some of you were able to participate too and catch a glimpse of academic conference proceedings. The emergency “pivot” made for a very special experience and opens up new ideas in terms of thinking what is possible for the future of academic conferences.
Sometime ago, we selected the idea of “care” as the central consideration of the conference. Little did we know, this theme would be so prophetic.
It was wonderful to see so many of my friends from all over the world gathered in one place and to share our research on open education. Also, it was wonderful to meet so many new colleagues. Finally, it was truly special to me to have you participate. To have my students involved was a great “gain” in terms of the pivot from f2f vs. online proceedings.
Later, I will write a synthesis of all my reflections on this experience, but suffice to say that I am very proud of the collective work done at #oer20, especially at such a difficult and unprecedented time. I think that #oer20 gave many people a chance to come together to think about the urgency of care in education, at a time when everything has indeed been upended. It is true that this is a painful and fearful time, but in crisis, often we also have the chance to realign our commitments and priorities and identify what is critical as we move forward with hope. Crisis literally means a turning point where things can get better or worse. I want to imagine the world that emerges from this crisis will be a more caring one. My work in making #oer20 happen is my way of contributing to that effort.
Just a note of thanks to all of you for participating, and if you are worried that you missed it, please know that the entire conference is now archived and can be watched at any time!
Your to-do list:
I spoke with Screening Surveillance producer & writer sava saheli singh for one of the #oer20 keynote plenary sessions:
As a follow up, she will visit us in the Net Mirror for a Studio Visit to discuss another one of her short films. Blaxites is a film that follows the story of a young woman whose celebratory social media post affects her access to vital medication. Her attempts to circumvent the system leads to even more dire consequences.
For next week, please watch Blaxites and blog your reflections on this story. Can you relate to the protagonists dilemma? What does this reveal about student life?
We will gather on screen on Thursday and speak to sava about her Screening Surveillance work, and think through the implications of this film, and the role of storytelling in thinking through our future(s) together.
I have missed you all. See you soon. And always, please take care,