OER18 and OEGlobal18, trends and findings

Two conferences in two consecutive weeks, both on research and experiences with open education. The first conference, OER18, took place in Bristol on 18 and 19 April. The second, OEGlobal18, in Delft from 24 to 26 April.
This blogpost contains a personal reflection on both conferences.

Are the conferences very different?

In order to characterise the two conferences, the following table shows some characteristics for comparison.

# Participants160380
# Countries represented17 (**)45
Country with highest # participantsUKThe Netherlands (33%)
# Submissions (initial)91216
% accepted80%82%
# Presentations75± 160 (*)
ThemeOpen for allTransforming Education Through Open Approaches
SubthemesOpen Learning Skills, OER, Open and Learners, Politics in Action, Diversity and Inclusivity, WildcardConnections, Formal education, Innovation, Institutionalizing, Open Education research, Policies, Practices, Student perspectives, Tools
ContentMainly researchResearch, experiences (cases)

(*) A number of accepted proposals were finally withdrawn by the proposers for various reasons (mostly financial).
(**) Based on 59% of the participants who provided this information
(Thanks to Maren Deepwell and Martin Hawksey for providing the data for OER18)
This table shows that there are significant differences between the two conferences. The larger scale and greater diversity of subthemes in OEGlobal18 are particularly striking. As a result, the atmosphere at OER18 is a little cuddlier and things are a little less tightly regulated, albeit both events were running smoothly.

Can clear trends be derived from both conferences?

Not really new trends, but more a confirmation of trends earlier observed: attention for the adoption of OER, both at the level of the institution and at the (inter)national level (the latter often at the policy level), practices concerning open textbooks, educational innovations with open educational practices or open pedagogy and their impact on learners and results, and more intertwining of different fields of openness, in particular between Open Science and Open Education. Little experience yet with techniques such as VR/AR and AI and their applications in the open domain.
One theme, however, was highly present in OER18 and (to a lesser extent) in OEGlobal18: attention for the inclusiveness of openness. In particular at OER18, this was the subject of many presentations and of the keynote, not surprisingly regarding their theme “Open for all”. Terms that were often mentioned in this context:

  • Narrative: the story of an individual or organisation about openness in education. Many of these stories are based on a fairly homogeneous environment and culture: that of the Western, highly educated middle-aged white man. This carries the risk that (unintentionally) entire groups in the world will receive less attention and will therefore experience less benefits from more open education. Closely related to this:
  • Underprivileged groups: those groups of people who are less reached by the open movement. Particular mention is made of women.

These debates are necessary, otherwise inclusiveness and equality as mentioned in UNESCO SDG4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) would be at risk. At the same time, I have the following comments on this:

  • These debates are being held, consciously or unconsciously, in the context of higher education. This carries the risk that a large part of the world’s population will remain “underprivileged”. For example: a study by Ben Janssen and myself on the adoption of OER in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training sector showed that hardly any attention is paid to this sector from the perspective of the open movement, both in research and in practice. There also seems to be much less attention for K-12, although several presentations addressed this sector, in particular at OEGlobal18. This may however also be related to the target group targeted by both conferences (higher education and (OEGlobal18) community colleges). But the question then becomes: where will these debates for other sectors than Higher Education take place?
  • These debates are, by their nature and subject matter, very philosophical and theoretical. David Wiley asked the question “Purist or pragmatist?” in his keynote at OER18. As a “pragmatist”, I find it difficult to translate findings from these debates into the practice of teachers and lecturers who we want to make aware of the benefits of open education. I have already described this dilemma in a blog post in 2012 (English version), in which I asked (in slightly different terms) the question “purist or pragmatist”.

Are there current trends less present at these conferences?

Yes, in addition to the aforementioned developments with VR/AR and AI applications, open badges and credentials and applications of learning analytics did hardly feature in the presentations at both conferences.

What does this mean for (higher) education in the Netherlands?

Just carry on with what we are already doing in terms of research, experiments and implementations, aiming at a wider adoption of OER, but with more focus on open practices and open pedagogy. However, an effort towards primary education, secondary education and MBO would enable initiatives for the adoption of OER to substantiate the observation that most seems to happen in higher education. There was such an initiative in the years 2009-2013 with the Wikiwijs programme. In the meantime, Wikiwijs has become increasingly well known, in particular within secondary education. This can form a solid basis for concentrated actions in research and implementations for the adoption of OER.
Looking back at OEGlobal18

Looking back at OER18


Long and Winding Road to a Program for OEGlobal18

The 1st of December, notifications of acceptance and rejection were submitted to the authors. Before this was made possible, a trajectory of opening a call for proposals, waiting for the submissions, closing the call, divide the proposals among reviewers, waiting for the reviews and, finally, based on the reviews, per proposal reach a decision about acceptance or rejection has been walked.
After opening of the call in July, the 1st submission already came in on 20 July. We had set the deadline for submission on 23 October. On that day we had received 82 proposals, where we (based on previous OEGlobals) aimed at 120 proposals. We therefore decided to extend the deadline with one week to 30 October. The next graph shows you what happened in that week.

On 30 October, 66 submissions came in, with an additional 19 on 31 October. The pool of reviewers however was calculated on 120-130 submissions instead of the 202 we had received. This would mean that each reviewer had to review 13-14 proposals instead of the 6-8 I had asked them for. It was heartwarming to experience that the majority of reviewers did not bother the extra workload when I asked them. Even more heartwarming was that an extra 12 reviewers offered themselves voluntarily within 24 hours, after 1 tweet and some retweets! This showed me the value of a warm and strong open community.
With some late submissions we ended up with 207 proposals. After the reviews were submitted, the conference team discussed about the reviews, especially those proposals where the reviewers did not agree or where one or both reviewers had hesitations on acceptance or rejection. We kept in mind that the OEGlobal should reflect the Open Education Consortium: a global consortium with both experienced members and newcomers in the arena of open education, represented by policy makers, management and support staff, teachers, students, and researchers. So there should be a place for both proposals based on scientific research as for proposals about policy or practices, not per se based on scientific research.
In the end 151 proposals are accepted (73%) and 34 are rejected (16%). 22 proposals are accepted under conditions. They are asked to rework their proposal taking into account remarks by the reviewers. Depending on their reworked proposals, we can decide about their acceptance or rejection.
Here are some statistics about the 151 accepted proposals. First, the number of proposals per country of the corresponding author.

To get a better picture about globalness, the same information is displayed in a worldmap. The green areas represent the origin of accepted proposals.

Proposals are connected to specific tracks of the conference:

This picture reflects the large diversity of proposals received.
And a last statistic: authors of proposals could determine about the type of session:

What these statistics do not reflect is the high quality of many of the proposals. I am looking forward to a vibrant and interesting conference in April next year.

Call for Proposals #OEGlobal18 is open

In 2018, the yearly Global Meeting of the Open Education Consortium will be from 24-26 April in Delft, organized by Delft University of Technology. Behind the scenes, many people are already busy with the myriad of issues that comes with organizing such an event.
Today, the website for the event is launched, simultaneously with the Call for Proposals. Proposals are welcome under the theme for the 2018 conference:
Transforming Education Through Open Approaches, and should fit into one of the subthemes:

  • Open Connections
  • Open Education Research
  • Innovation through opening traditional practices
  • Policies & strategies for Open Education
  • Institutionalizing Open Education
  • Tools & Technologies for Open Education
  • Open Educational Practices/Open Pedagogy
  • Connecting Open Education to formal education
  • Student perspectives

Four session formats will be distinguished:

  • Presentation
  • Panel
  • Action Lab
  • Poster

Papers will be made available in Conference proceedings. For those interested, there is an opportunity to publish a paper in a Special Issue of Open Praxis. Both publications will be made available full Open Access (under a CC-BY license) and publishing in Open Praxis does not require an author fee.
Due date for sending in proposals is 23 October 2017.
>> Detailed information and a link for submitting
We hope to receive many interesting proposals that will contribute to a wonderful event in 2018!

Global Meeting OEC 2017, some impressions

Image by Rob Farrow

Last week I was present at the yearly Global Meeting of the Open Education Consortium. The event took place in CapeTown, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Cape Town Declaration on Open Education.
To get an impression of which topics are currently in the focus of the open community at this conference, I have categorized the presentations that took place. In total there were 107 sessions (8 panel discussions, 15 action labs and 84 presentations). The distribution among the categories I distinguished was as follows:

The category “Miscellaneous” consists of sessions with a subject that was presented only once (e.g. business models). The categories are not disjunct, so for some presentations I had to judge what category was the best fit. But overall it can be seen that focus is more and more on adoption by (in Rogers’ terms) the early and late majority of teachers. Some presentations in this category also mention access for individual students (self-learners).
The overview of the program provides access to the information of each presentation and the slides that were used. At the time of writing of this post not all slides were made available yet. I expect they will be in the next coming days.
>> Overview program
I was involved in three presentations, each about activities and research I am currently involved in with a focus on the Netherlands:

Personal impressions

The ROER4D project is nearing its end and the results are increasingly becoming available. The presentation of Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams (Principal Investigator of ROER4D) titled The adoption and impact of OEP and OER in the Global South: Theoretical, conceptual and methodological framework for the ROER4D project meta-analysis provided an impressive overview of what was accomplished in the 18 case studies that were conducted in ROER4D. Glenda Cox and Henry Trotter presented Understanding lecturer’s adoption of OER: a multi-factorial approach. They have put me on the track of an alternative way to approach the question of broad adoption of OER, where Rogers’ Innovation theory was not sufficient. Unfortunately, I missed the presentation of Catherine Cronin (Openness and praxis: Exploring the use of open educational practices for teaching in higher education) about a similar research on adoption, but a paper of her in IRRODL about her research findings is in press (preprint).
Although all three research projects started from a different perspective, the findings were more or less similar and comparable with our research in the Netherlands. It may be worthwhile to expand on this in the coming period to see how the different perspectives can be joined into one framework to approach the question of how to increase adoption of OER among the early majority of teachers. We had an inspiring discussion with Henry Trotter on this as a start.
It was also good to see that more and more the narrow view on open learning materials is expanded to a broader view on openness, including open infrastructures (with Norway and the Netherlands as two fine examples) and open pedagogy. My opinion “We should be more open about open”, quoted by Tom Caswell already in 2012, is necessary to connect to the early and late majority. The presentations from Rajiv Jhangiani (Pragmatism vs. Idealism and the Identity Crisis of OER Advocacy) and Jamison Miller (The Constraints of Policy: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Open Education Policy in Virginia) hit the nail on the head.
Indications to be more open on open came also from my research project on adoption as was mentioned earlier, and I intend to go deeper into this the next period to find out in more detail how such a connection can be made fruitful. The toolkit Martijn Ouwehand and myself have developed, may support one of the approaches (connect to the core of the teacher).
And finally, the presence and achievements of members of GO-GN was wonderful to experience. Too bad, a virus catched some of them (we call this now the OERHub-virus), so they could only be partially present at the conference. GO-GN has developed into a vibrant community, both online and offline, which was intended at the start of this.

Next year

Next year the Global Meeting will take place in beautiful Delft, 24-26 April 2018. I am honoured to be appointed the Program Chair of that Meeting. Glenda Cox, the Program Chair in Cape Town, has set the bar high with an excellent accomplishment!