OpenEd21: Closing Plenary The Future of OpenEd

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OpenEd21 is happening this week and instead of tweeting I am blogging from selected sessions I am attending. These notes may be rough as the intent is to try to follow the flow of the talk and publish as soon as possible.

Session Description

The Strategic Planning Committee is thrilled to unveil the updated Strategic Vision for the Open Education Conference after a thorough public consultation. As current organizers reach the end of their original two-year commitment, this document will be used to inform the transition process to a new organizational structure. (full abstract)

Session Notes

This session was a planning and feedback session – where does the conference go? David Wiley stepped away in 2019 and the current steering community came together in the interim and committed to spending the next 2 years establishing some of the community governance pieces to guide the conference in the future.

The steering committee suggests the following approach to move forward and asks attendees.

  1. Conference creates a new “Board” (quotes from the current steering commitee)
  2. Half are appointed from current community members
  3. Half are newly elected.

By creating a board that is half current and half new members it does provide continuity from year to year and “institutional memory”. What will be the democratic process of electing new members is still TBD.

This new board will need to develop and plan OpenEd22 and will need to determine a new fiscal and operational home for the conference. OpenStax and SPARC had taken it on in the past 2-year interim period.

There were a few Mentimeter activities to get some feedback from the close to 200 attendees about what people have enjoyed about the conference over the past 2 years. Cluster of answers of what people have appreciated. There appeared to be a lot of love for virtual format, increased global attendance and participation, no vendors, and an increased emphasis on EDI. Also questions on what can be done to create a more inclusive organization, and how outreach with the community should be done.

My Takeaways

OpenEd is a special conference for me. I have attended for close to a decade now, and was the co-lead (with David Wiley) for the 2015 Vancouver conference. I was there 2 years ago in Phoneix (which was the last face to face event I attended before COVID) when David announced he was stepping away from the conference he founded and turned it over to the wider Open Education community. It was a significant moment in the history of the conference and, I think, the history of the open education movement in North America. But after 16 years, I think David made the right decision. The conference – and the movement – had grown (1800 participants this year) and evolved immensely in recent years to the point where the community wanted to have more of a say in the direction of the conference. David has played a huge role in advancing open education to this point and I hope he feels proud of what he accomplished and that as Open Education continues to grow that his immense contributions continue to be recognized.

The interim OpenEd steering committee has done a truly fantastic job over the past 2 years and they should be commended for not only making the conferences happen these past 2 years under very trying circumstances but also have the bandwidth to undertake organizational visioning and launching a strategic planning process to ensure there is an Open Education conference in the future.

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