Last week nearly 800 members of the Open Education community convened in Anaheim, California for the 14th Annual Open Education Conference (#OpenEd17). The three-day event was jam packed with programming that included four fantastic keynotes, over a hundred workshops and panel discussions, dozens of table discussions, and for the first time a half-day unconference. SPARC’s Open Education team was was well represented across the conference programming, holding speaking roles in eight sessions ranging in topics from state and federal policy to equity and OER.
During the conference, SPARC was also active in informal conference programming which included a productive in-person meeting of the SPARC Open Education Leadership Fellows, as well as the production of a special video edition of the OER Digest featuring updates from 17 community institutions/organizations.
— SPARC (@SPARC_NA) October 13, 2017
— OER Digest (@OERdigest) October 13, 2017
The theme of diversity, equity, and inclusion was prominent throughout the meeting, driven home in a powerful closing keynote by Cathy Casserly on the past, present, and future of inclusion in the OER movement. These important discussions were also conveyed during the opening keynote by Ryan Merkley, and echoed in multiple workshops and panel presentations.
“OpenEd brought a lot of vital conversations surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion to the forefront of our community,” said Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education. “As advocates of openness, we have a special responsibility to ensure our gatherings and discussions reflect our values. We need to work actively and deliberately to engage the full spectrum of voices that make our movement strong.”
— SPARC (@SPARC_NA) October 13, 2017
Other notable events from the conference included a keynote panel comprising of five students and two faculty from Santa Ana College, who delivered a compelling presentation on how our OER work is critical, and the degree to which students can be positively impacted by OER.
On the heels of the Cengage’s recent announcement of an OER product, the panel on Automatic Purchasing Programs was particularly timely. Organized by SPARC, this panel featured a faculty member, student advocate, librarian, open textbook publisher, and course curriculum representative to discuss the rise of this increasingly prolific model for digital textbooks and what it means for OER.
“The $300 textbooks today were once $25 too” Robert Butterfield on automatic purchasing programs and Cengage’s recent announcement #OpenEd17
— Brady Yano (@bradyyano) October 13, 2017
“Our Automatic Purchasing Programs panel brought together a diverse group of OER stakeholders to discuss potential threats to our community and the values of Open,” said Katie Steen, Open Education Fellow for SPARC, who moderated the panel. “Although the panel produced more questions than answers, it made clear the need for greater discussion on the evolving infrastructure and delivery of OER as opposed to traditional digital materials. Our hope is that this panel inspires greater conversation on the impact that automatic purchasing programs have on students and the future of OER.”
Overall #OpenEd17 provided the space to have critical conversations on our collective successes, existing challenges, and opportunities for improvement. The SPARC Open Education team left the conference feeling both challenged and invigorated as we look forward to finding news ways to put this conversation into action. Whether it is through our monthly LibOER calls, active listserv, or engagement on Twitter, we will continue our work in ensuring that these important conversations continue.
— SPARC (@SPARC_NA) October 10, 2017
To catch up on what the community said about the conference, check out #OpenEd17.
SPARC’s involvement in #OpenEd17 programming:
- Collaborating with Students on OER Advocacy (slides)
- Aiming for Equity: Ensuring OER doesn’t exacerbate existing achievement gaps*
- Advancing OER friendly policy in state legislatures
- Connect OER
- The Rise of the Automatic Purchasing Program (slides)
- OER Policy & Politics in the United States
- Communications Workshop: Message and Media Training*
* Denotes that SPARC staff filled in for a last-minute vacancy in the session and therefore are not reflected on the official conference programming