OpenEd21 Plenary: Students at the Centre

5 min read

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

Presenters: Chatan Jessel (University of Calgary), Martina Miklavcic (University of Ljubljana), Molya Vundamina (Nelson Mandela University), Shifrah Gadamsetti (Carleton University),

Session Notes

A panel discussion facilitated by Veronica Moreno.

CJ starts and mentions his entryway into open education was textbook costs. He read a post by a student on the UCalgary sub-Reddit about how a student was struggling with their finances. he read that and found it tough not to empathize and decided open education was a pathway to help.

MM has started working in a general surgery residency and connected to open education as a medical student through the international federation of medical students association where she began to notice the gaps around the world in access to medical research. She began to work on open science projects and got into open education through open access.

MV is completing a degree in law and is a designated open education influencer. She was part of a steering committee where there was a sandwich and coffee drive that highlighted just how critical expenses were. She found students depending on the free sandwiches handed out, which were often the only meal they had. Her work with refugees showed that there were barriers to education (cost, lack of access to their home country credentials, discriminatory attitudes) and open education is a tool to help address these.

SG says open had a huge influence on her career. Started a Mount Royal in Nursing program and went back to start a degree in Sociology which is when she got involved in student advocacy & student government, which led her to a Masters program in Carleton. Open resources helped her overcome some of her own barriers, and noted that OpenEd allows for a diverse range of learners and learner styles and makes it possible for all to participate in education.

Q: What have you done to advance open education and what are things others students can do?

MM we created open educational activities and resource on medical residency training that we were able to share with medical students around the world. There was an iterative development process. describes this as a fairly traditional open education project. Also organized a research boot camp for medical students.

MV what students can do. Important to attend conferences like this to learn more about open, engage with people who are working in the open. An Open Education Influencer advocates for change and increase awareness of OER and advocate for the development and use of OER. There is a formalized program and training to become an OE Influencer. Projects Molya has worked on included translation projects and often refers students to openly licensed materials to assist with their writing.

SG Key project was 3-4 years ago when students at her institution really started to get involved in advocating for open learning resources. Open textbooks and reducing costs is the “hook, line and sinker” of open education as it directly addresses student costs. Talked about a student going directly to the instructor and taking open options to them and the instructor made a change. Important to develop relationships with future student government leaders in the short time you have in student government to be able to have continuity over time with open education initiatives. Points about the important role that librarians play in developing open education and OER initiatives on campus.

<I missed quite a bit in here as I had to step away>

Q: What should people in this session take away from this session? What one piece of advice do you have to wrap up the session?

SG: The appetite for open is growing, so I would say find link-minded people like you on your campus and just get started rather than trying to do it on your own. Find allies, which can then lead to the development of an introductory board or committee.

CJ: Never underestimate the work that you are doing. It has an impact for students and there are students who are struggling financially and OER’s do have such a big impact in helping.

MM: never be afraid to reach out to collaborate with students. We are here and want to work with you.

MV: The work you are doing is not going unnoticed.

My Takeaways

I continue to be impressed with the efforts of the committee this year to make a truly inclusive and global conference. The students on the panel were from South Africa, Slovenia, and Canada and provided multiple global perspectives. And I am happy to see the tradition of student panels at OpenEd is continuing. It is always so important to hear from the students, and this particular group was very impressive with their depth of open knowledge, and the work they are doing to advance open education, both at their institutions, within their countries and within their specific disciplines.

We often talk about gateways into open education, and how once someone learns about one of the “open” ways then other open ways make much more sense. Open leads to open, and this was certainly the case with Martina as her gateway into open education started with an interest in open access. She saw a gap in how knowledge was distributed with regards to her field (medical research) and that interest in open access led to her work in open education.

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