OER17: The Politics of Open takes place in London on the 5th and 6th of April 2017, and is shaping up to be an unmissable conference. The call for proposals has been released, and the global conference committee have started meeting to discuss how they are going to make sure the conference lives up to the excitement it’s already generated.
The OER17 co-chairs, educational technologist Josie Fraser (UK) and policy activist Alek Tarkowski (Poland), have been discussing their priorities and aims for the event with the rest of the team.
Alek’s goals for #OER17
Make OER17 international
I’ve participated in two previous OER conferences, and they have always had an international aspect – but I think there’s still room to strengthen it. I appreciate the strong sense of community that exists in the Open Educational Resource (OER) / Open Educational Practice (OEP) space in the UK; and I think we can build on this, adding more international points of view – making OER17 a globally friendly, European conference.
Contributing to the global conversation on open education
OER17 fits well into next year’s calendar of OER events – 2017 is an important year globally for open education. There will be a Capetown@10 years event organised together with the OE Global event in Capetown, South Africa, in March. The UNESCO 2nd World OER Congress will take place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in September, following world-wide open educational resource consultations. Our event is a part of this time frame, and a part of the global conversation on the future of OER.
I’m really keen on mixing traditional, well tested conference formats (for example, short presentations) with alternative approaches for exchanging information and building a sense of engagement. Many other approaches to the standard conference formula can be taken – we are keen to hear about the community’s innovative ideas, and see them in action during the conference.
Josie’s goals for #OER17
Alek’s three goals – developing international conference attendance/participation, being an active participant in the global OER/OEP conversation, and embracing creative approaches to participation – are really important ones. In addition, I’d add:
OER17 committee member Nicole Allen (Director of Open Education, SPARC) noted “one aspect of OER17 that I am particularly passionate about is promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the open community.” This is something Alek and I are committed to, along with the rest of the organising committee. The conference themes have been selected to put these discussions at the heart of the event, in order to actively address issues relating to inequality, and encourage frank and open debate about how to ensure our community is fully open: welcoming and respectful of difference.
Mainstreaming open education
Related to this, and to Alek’s points on expansion and place, I’m passionate about us building a bigger community, and making open education a part of mainstream conversations and planning. I’d love to see people who have never attended an open education conference join us in numbers. There are huge advantages for people and organisations working in spaces relating to social engagement/inclusion, and relating to policy and political change, in understanding what open education is and the conference offers an opportunity to find out how to benefit strategically, operationally and financially from open approaches.
I’m also interested very in what the open movement means and what it might mean. The event provides a great place for both structured and informal discussion about what are our collective priorities are- what are the things we want to change and achieve? How do we best draw on and build our diversity and capacity to do this? How do we strengthen our networks and secure resources and allies?
How can I get involved?
The call for contributions to OER17 is open until the 16th of November – please do submit your ideas. You can also help by passing on information about the event to your networks.