OEGlobal Conference 2020, a personal impression

This year’s edition of the OEGlobal conference was, for reasons well-known, transformed to a fully online event that took place from 16-20 November. For this occasion, they had divided the world into three timezones, where each timezone was hosted by an institution. Almost all presentations were recorded and each presentation had its own thread on a social platform, connected to this conference. That made it possible to offer a program running from 2:00 – 23:30, where the recordings and the different time-different place discussion opportunities made it possible to virtually participate, even if you had missed the presentation. I consider that as one of the main gains of a fully online conference, next to the low costs for participation that makes the conference more accessible for everyone. On the flipside however really connecting like in the usual offline events was much harder and, I guess, even more for participants new to this conference. For next years occasion in Nantes (France), maybe a hybrid form could combine the best of both worlds.

In the remainder my personal impression of the conference and the things that caught my eye. Links to the presentations are available at the end of this post.

The conference paid a lot of attention to the role of “open” to achieve greater inclusivity and equity in education. This trend has been going on for some time, but this year it seems to gain even more attention and importance as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. It is not only about the difference Global North-Global South, but also about making everyone’s voice heard more, regardless of race, gender and sexual orientation. Didactical approaches that fall under the umbrella of Open Pedagogy, with attention for principles of social justice, is one way to tackle this issue. At this conference, this translated into a lot of attention for Open Pedagogy, going from principles to practical experiences.

The presentation of Leigh-Ann Perryman When Openness Excludes: Strategies for Equitable Open Pedagogies in Various Contexts was exemplary for me. Among other things, she points to pitfalls for open approaches (e.g. cyber bullying or cyber violence when insufficient attention is paid to a safe environment during implementation). She, but also a few others, points to Universal Design of Learning as one of the ways to avoid these pitfalls.

Another good presentation on this topic is by Glenda Cox c.s. Participatory Pedagogy and Open Textbook Publishing Journeys: Emerging Models at the University of Cape Town about the experiences they have gained and researched during their DOT4D project and where they mainly focus on open textbooks as a tool for open approaches. She presents a.o. some authorship models that can be used as inspiration when thinking about forms of education in which the creation of artifacts by students is an activity (a typical feature of Open Pedagogy).

In a workshop Building a Social Framework for Sustaining Open Educational Resources, Paul Stacey and David Wiley discussed the need for a form of community building for the sustainability of OER, and which factors do or do not influence this. Some of these factors mentioned (also in the chat) included: a possible role for publishers; available funding on its own is not sufficient: recognition and a form of passion are at least as important. In my opinion, this passion should not only be for acting “open” (which is too much like missionary work to me), but more in the passion to achieve good education. Unfortunately, recordings of this workshop are not available, but in the thread on the social platform, many valuable contributions have been placed by participants in this workshop.

Coming from Dutch soil, the presentation of a very passionate Pim Bellinga: Stories from the Field: How educators from different institutions collaboratively create open resources is worthwhile. His company Grasple publishes open interactive math and statistics exercises and develops them together with higher education institutions. He has analysed which forms of collaboration they have observed in recent years and identified seven patterns. For me, this raises questions such as: what can you do when you have identified such a pattern? Could one formulate best practices per pattern? Or will these best practices ultimately be very similar because it is primarily about involvement, commitment and support?

The keynote from Catherine Stihler and Vanessa Proudman Connecting the Open – Open Access, Open Scholarship, Open Science, Open Education, drew attention to the similarities between open movements, especially Open Science and Open Education. UNESCO has formulated two Recommendations to increase adoption of both initiatives, with the Recommendation on Open Science still a Draft (see my blogs here and here). They argue for more joint initiatives and learning from each others experiences. In the Netherlands, we have paid attention to this before, for example in a symposium Open Science meets Open Education, organised by SURF and the SIG Open Education, but so far no follow-up has been given to this.

The presentation by Bryan McGeary et al., Building Sustainable and Scalable OER Initiatives Through Faculty, Librarian, and Student Partnerships that Encourage Open Pedagogy, comes under the heading “practical experiences”. For OER adoption from the point of view of the library that generates initiatives and provides support to instructors, giving workshops is not scalable. Instead, they have set up grants for OER development and their role then changes from that of implementer to project leader, which is more scalable. In these projects, students co-create open textbooks with instructors.

A remark made by Andy Lane in the chat at one of the presentations caught my attention: ‘(We) need to promote learning design as praxis – the braiding of theory and practice which covers the full range of ‘closededness’ and openness’. This may be an approach to achieving greater adoption of OER by promoting this in teacher education programmes.

Finally, I noticed that there was relatively little attention for MOOCs. For me, this marks the maturity of this type of course/learning material: it has passed the hype and is one of the tools in the large toolbox available to a teacher/institution.

I myself was involved in two contributions. Together with Lieke Rensink I presented a workshop on some intermediate results of an national innovation program on digital (open) educational resources, the creation of a vision document (with as horizon 2025) and development of a national technical infrastructure for digital educational resources. And, together with Ria Jacobi, I was involved in the creation of a videoclip on reuse of OER by Marjon Baas.


All recordings made at this conference are available here.

Leigh-Ann Perryman: When Openness Excludes: Strategies for Equitable Open Pedagogies in Diverse Contexts


Glenda Cox, Michelle Willmers, Bianca Masuku: Participatory Pedagogy and Open Textbook Publishing Journeys: Emerging Models at the University of Cape Town


Bryan McGeary, Ashwini Ganeshan, Christopher Guder: Building Sustainable and Scalable OER Initiatives Through Faculty, Librarian, and Student Partnerships that Encourage Open Pedagogy


Paul Stacey, David Wiley: Building a Social Framework For Sustaining Open Educational Resources


Pim Bellinga: Stories from the Field: How educators from different institutions collaboratively create open resources


Catherine Stihler & Vanessa Proudman: Connecting the opens – Open Access, Open Scholarship, Open Science, Open Education


Robert Schuwer, Lieke Rensink: Acceleration of Innovation of (Open) Learning Materials in The Netherlands


Marjon Baas, Ria Jacobi, Robert Schuwer: Reuse of OER Considered from Different Perspectives


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