Open Education Conference | By Dr. Connie Blomgren
Where is OER now and where is it going?
From October 11-13, I was in Anaheim attending and presenting at the OpenEd 2017 conference. I met old friends and new. I collected business cards and learned from those I met in sessions or as I took a coffee break. Old connections and past experiences were renewed in unexpected ways – as well as making new connections and possibilities. This process of change and revisiting the old are part of being open…and of being part of the Open Educational Resources (OER) world and its larger affiliation with the open movement.
OpenEd 17 – Sharing, Gratitude, and Hope
Highlights of the conference included the venue itself – the beautiful open design of the Hyatt – with its atrium spanning 10 stories and enclosed with north light passing through panels of glass. Inside and out palm trees reminded us how the natural world can always be part of teaching and learning – that we are alive and daily growing albeit in small ways.
The opening keynote by Ryan Merkely – a fellow Canadian – amid this primarily American audience reinforced that OER ties to Creative Commons and that there will be a CC certificate offered in April 2018. He summarized how CC is working on 3 aspects – teaching, partnering and movement-building – as forming their current and near future focus. This concept of the significance of the commons was a theme further explored by the Friday morning keynote by David Bollier who encouraged us to reframe what OER means beyond the increasing drive to commodify content and to recognize that *open* is not the same as a commons. He asked – who IS taking care of open resources? And encouraged us to be mindful that a faux commons is possible i.e. we need to think of the Commons in more abstract terms.
With over 700 delegates this conference has grown substantially since its first offering with 40 attendees. The following highlights reflect only the various presentations, round table discussions and insights gained from the afternoon *unconference* that I attended. It is a sampling of the breadth of topics and flavours offered this year.
In the Open Your Eyes to Open Education: 1 Day PD Offerings Introducing K-12 Educators to OER given by Cassidy Hall (Doceo Center University of Idaho), I learned about the model of professional learning that K-12 teachers access regarding OER development. Like the state of Utah, Idaho looks to K-12 OER as a solution for quality resources developed by teachers. Reviewing K-12 OER Materials (ed.reports.org) gave an overview of the purpose behind Ed Reports which arose when American educational publishers stated that their resources were Common Core aligned but there was no vetting available to examine such claims. The website is purposefully designed to make people dig into an analysis and as more instructional materials are being tagged as OER, both by publishers and educators, Ed Reports continues to use a practitioner based peer review process to ascertain the merits of a curricular resource. The review process for OER materials is as rigourous as for non-OER and involves several peers in making a determination.