One of the joys and sometimes the challenges of being part of a global open education community is that there is a constant flow of new and reconsidered ideas. The annual UK-based OER conference series – including the recent #OER17 – acts as a focal point for pre- and post- conference conversations, discussions, webinars, articles and year-round advocacy.
I (Viv Rolfe) wrote in 2015 that OER might be a ‘languishing teenager’ and predicted that it was about to emerge in a new-found wave of confidence very soon. I put this down to optimism rather than any calculated intellectual rationale, but I do think this is exactly what has happened in the UK, largely due to momentum gained from the last few OERxx conferences. It is encouraging to see new people joining the community and in recent years we have seen a rise in international delegates attracted to our uniquely situated slant on open education. My own observation this year is that I am lucky enough to be turning down invitations to run workshops and seminars on open education around the UK – and I think the work of our community, supported by ALT and this amazing conference series, has provided the impetus for this wave of change.
So what next for #OER18?
David (Kernohan) and myself have the absolute honour of being invited to chair the next conference, and early planning discussions are already under way. We decided relatively quickly and easily to use the conference to visit some very fundamental questions – as a movement (in its present iteration) over 15 years old, how has open education impacted on learners, education and society? Coinciding with changes to student disability funding, removal of nursing and healthcare student bursaries, rising fees and students faced with mounting financial hardship, how are we using open to support learning for all? What skills do students and educators need to fully benefit from open learning, teaching and assessing? What is the relationship between open and inclusive learning?
So we very much look forward to working with you all to shape the next conference perhaps by joining the committee or becoming more involved in ALT OE SIG – and also to the range of high-quality proposals that make this annual conference one of a very small number of globally significant open education conferences. My personal plea is for this to be scaffolded by evaluation and evidence, and by insight into the long and strange history of open education to provide a critical perspective on where we are today.
“Open education is used here to designate a general approach to teaching and learning…views the teacher more as a facilitator of learning than a transmitter of knowledge, and abundant alternatives and choice for students”
(Barth,1972), “Open Education and the American School”).
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