Northeast OER Summit 2019

I’ve had a night’s rest at home to let all the delicious brain food from the Northeast OER Summit digest, and wow, what a nourishing two days I spent connecting with other Open Education enthusiasts!

The conference began with a keynote conversation between OERockstars, Robin DeRosa and Rajiv Jhangiani. I have heard these two present before, but this format felt so authentic to the spirit of Open–rather than lecture, Drs. DeRosa and Jhangiani modeled dynamic exchange of ideas, while demonstrating their commitment to revolutionizing the way we teach and learn. Unlike traditional keynotes, the audience was central to the experience and much of what they shared was driven by the participants’ curiosity. I left the opening session ready to actively engage, rather than passively attend the rest of the conference.

A little later on, I gave a short presentation on Accessibility and Open Education. This was my first time speaking at a professional conference and while I was quite nervous, the room was welcoming and the participants seemed genuinely excited to learn about how OER and Open Pedagogy benefit diverse learners. Of course, the projection did not work for the first ten minutes, forcing me to improvise a bit, but that too, was a great learning experience.

I finished my day in the audience of Dr. Matthew Cheney’s session, Gift Economies in the Gig Economy: Avoiding Unintentional Fallacies. Cheney is a brilliant creative writer, and his delivery was fittingly gorgeous. He asked provocative questions: requiring us to consider who might be harmed by the drive to produce and share high-quality OER, and reminded us that the ability to create and share freely, and to assume the risk of working in the open, is a marker of privilege. I left with more questions than answers, which I believe was by design.

On day two, I spent my morning in a session led by Robin DeRosa, during which we shared tools and advice and spent some time networking. I met one of the key people behind our state’s community college system’s new OER initiative, and we intend to collaborate on professional development opportunities for faculty around accessibility in the near future.

I wrapped up my conference experience in a session led by folks from Lumen Learning, called Sustaining Success with your OER Initiative. Here we collaborated to assess needs for various periods of development, and look closely at our own institution’s infrastructure for supporting our work. The facilitators provided this handy resource that you can use as a starting point for determining areas of focus as you work to scale and sustain your programs.

Next week I will attend our USNH system’s annual Open Education conference, and will bring with me new knowledge and plenty of enthusiasm to learn and share with my local colleagues.

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