This past week, we attended OpenEd, an annual conference on Open Education which was held at the US Niagara Falls. Over 350 presentations, posters, roundtables, lightning talks, and panels were given. The presentation themes included accessibility, assessment, pedagogy, economics, sustainability, social justice, and the future of OER. The more than 850 people who attended consisted of faculty members, deans, provosts, librarians, school teachers, and even students, which just illustrates how big and important this movement has become. We have returned with notebooks full of ideas, thoughts and practical next steps.
We also presented. The title of our presentation was “Providing a Powerful Choice: Lessons from a Young OER Initiative”.
In the speech, we shared our story with Open Textbooks; our successes, our shortcomings, and our future plans. In turn, the audience gave us feedback and told us about their experiences. This was the beauty of the conference; people were open and generous with their thoughts and ideas and were willing to connect and help in any way possible. For instance, a psychology professor from British Columbia, who has been very successful with OER in his discipline offered to Skype in and talk to our psychology department about possible open textbooks. The configuration of the conference allowed for such interactions since breakfast and lunch were served in a common area.
We were intrigued to find out that whereas in many places librarians are the forerunners of OER, in other colleges and universities, faculty had taken on the lead for OER, some of who we met and their passion for OER was contagious. Of course, all of them acknowledged that their team would have not been successful without the immense collaboration and guidance of librarians. So, vive les librarians! By attending faculty presentations we got a chance to see things from a different viewpoint. We heard diverse voices and learned things from new angles.
We are relatively new to OER while other institutions have been working on OER for a few years now. Some schools have already many free or low-cost courses incorporated into their college courses. While some were talking about the sustainability of the OER movement, others were talking about Open Pedagogy and how that is affecting both teaching and learning methods. But that’s for another post.
Check out OER sources available via library:
Contributed by Sara Tabaei and Juliana Terciotti Magro, Main Campus Librarians.