OER15 Conference report

Keynote Sheila MacNeill

This year the host city for the Open Education Conference (OER15) was Cardiff and its theme was ‘Mainstreaming Open Education’. Chaired by Haydn Blackey and Martin Weller there were over 100 sessions condensed into two action packed days. It was a very friendly welcoming conference of enthusiasts who have a ‘can do’ attitude:

This was my first #oer conference so I wasn’t too sure what to expect. In the end I got sunshine, smiles and a really engaging and entertaining conference.  It really felt very “open”.  Everyone was very welcoming and there was a genuine spirit of sharing and support in the air.  (Sheila MacNeill)

The conference opened with the first keynote speaker Cable Green who started his talk outlining the use of Creative Commons licences but then went on to discuss how OER’s can get people to learn in new ways:

It was that tension between institutions and individual practice that, for me, provided a theme that developed from Cable Green’s opening keynote to be picked up again and again by speakers, in questions and in conversations around quiet corners. The perception is that institutional buy-in offers the support and security that those on the edges of the open world need to “dive in” – the reality is that those at the conference had often entered the waters without even institutional knowledge. (David Kernohan)

As the OER infrastructure evolves it opens up further possibilities for students to develop their own resources. One thing that resonated most for Mark Power from the opening  keynote was to see OER’s ‘succeeding’ in schools where students were contributing to and improving the worlds educational resources

This echoed something a practitioner said to me recently; that the way he could see the OER movement truly ‘evolving’ is by learners becoming the creators and sharers themselves: updating existing resources, and adding to them with new ideas, methods and techniques involved in their learning. (Mark Power)

The conference was also a real coming together of novices, experts and like minded people to discuss and debate how OER’s can contribute to a better understanding  of human knowledge:

The biggest standout for me though? The people. Definitely the people. The passion, insight, creativity and intelligence of the OER community was always on show; and having the opportunity to spend time and talk with them was something I am honoured to have had. But it was also the warmth, friendliness and – yes – openness, of this community that all contributed to what was – for me – an exceptionally happy, fun and enjoyable conference. (Mark Power)

Teresa MacKinnon further reiterated this point that it was the people at the  conference and the wider ALT community that is an ideal network to develop the further challenges OER’s have in a world of increased competition and even more scarce resources:

This conference, with its wonderful Welsh welcome, inspirational keynote speakers and tireless social activities reinforced relationships for a like-minded group who appreciate the bigger picture. We are on a mission to share Open, the song of Open echoed around the Welsh valleys and beyond on #oer15. I drove home from this conference with the words of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger playing on my radio:

What did you learn in the morning?
How much did you know in the afternoon?
Were you content in the evening?
Did they teach you how to question when you were at the school?
Did the factory help you grow? Were you the maker or the tool?
Did the place where you were living enrich your life and then?
Did you reach some understanding of all your fellow men?

(Ballad of Accounting by Ewan MacColl)

Conference playlisy – OER15: Mainstreaming Open Education.

Other blog posts:

Marieke Guy – OER15: Window Boxes, Battles and Bandwagons

Martin Weller – OER15 and the nature of change in Higher ed

Teresa MacKinnon – Open to change!

OER16: Open Culture – 26th April Edinburgh University

Author: Chris Rowell, Deputy Learning Technology Manager, Regent’s University London Rowellc@regents.ac.uk

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member


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