The pandemic has caused many of us to miss out on seeing colleagues and collaborators from across the country and around the world at in-person events. But, COVID-19 didn’t slow down the near-flawless execution of this year’s OpenEd Conference, held virtually from November 9-13.
Our open education team – Carley, Dylan, and Kaitlin – were in attendance. As always, they sat down (virtually) to discuss their takeaways from this year’s OpenEd Conference.
Q: Who did you most enjoy hearing from?
Kaitlin: I most enjoyed hearing from Librarian and Associate Professor at Mount Royal University, Jessie Loyer, during her ‘Open Education for Land Back’ presentation. Her critical discussion around how the push for open can often times lack cultural context was eye opening. It made me reflect on the notion of Land Back and how open education can be used as a tool for justice.
The OpenEd Conference showed us many keys to increasing accessibility and inclusion across the educational landscape (Unsplash).
Dylan: A general response, perhaps, but it was interesting to hear speakers from various colleges and universities outside of Canada. I like to think I have a good sense of how the open space is on our home soil, but hearing from others was a great experience. It was neat to hear how various institutions handle open education initiatives and general response levels, from administrators, to students, and so on. It puts us in a good spot as we continue to grow our own initiative here in Manitoba. It is always great to learn, in general, from the OpenEd Conference.
Q: What was one thing that inspired you?
Carley: It warmed my heart to see how truly global this conference was. From Kuala Lumpur to Yellowknife, people showed up ready to engage, correspond in chat, share information and learn about what others are doing in the open education space. I feel very proud to be able to work on the Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative and being in a virtual space with a bunch of other people who take pride in their work was very inspiring and motivating.
Kaitlin: In ‘Open Access in Remote Communities: A Canadian North Experience’, presenters reminded us of how important it is to decentralize whiteness in open spaces. An example shared was comparing the size of Northwest Territories to Africa vs. our default use of Europe as context.
Q: What is one thing you hope to see going forward?
Dylan: I expect that more open education events will happen in a virtual open space, and this is positive for the movement. I think it provides us all with a more affordable way of connecting, perhaps a safer and more inclusive way, and maybe we can involve and celebrate more open advocates in this realm. I know in the Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative, we dream of a Community of Practice – and seeing an event go so smoothly through Zoom really ramps up the potential for this kind of work, despite the social challenges and realities we all face together. Something in there speaks to the power of silver linings, and keeps us motivated in our work.
Carley: The OpenEd Conference offered so many resources on ways to create spaces for people to share their stories. There were tools to build communities that are accessible, diverse, and inclusive. Lastly, there were tools that promote education for all. I look forward to using the tools and resources shared to examine and improve the work that we do.
Campus Manitoba is a consortium of Manitoba’s public universities and colleges. Through collaborative projects and shared services, we facilitate student mobility and expand access to post-secondary programs for students in Manitoba. In addition to campusmanitoba.ca, our websites include ecoursesmb.ca, setyourcourse.ca, and openedmb.ca.