Open Ed 2011 Recap and Invitation to Vancouver for Open Ed 2012

I was extremely fortunate to once again participate in what has become an annual event for me, the 8th International Open Education Conference, which this year moved back closer to its historic birthplace in Utah. This year’s conference took place up in the mountains east of Salt Lake City at Park City, a beautiful setting that in its relative remoteness also led to much concentrated discussions by participants as, frankly, there wasn’t a lot of other places to go! We’ll have to think about this for next year, when BCcampus, along with UBC, Athabasca and BYU bring the Open Ed conference back to Vancouver, a place not known for its lack of distractions!

There was a record number of talks and demos at this year’s conference, hopefully reflecting that Open Ed is slowly becoming less of an outlier. The full program is here and each session links directly to a video of the talk, or you can browse the entire collection of conference videos directly on Youtube. Some of the highlight sessions for me were:

OERGlue began as a browser-based plugin tool that allowed faculty to remix OERs as they travelled the web into a course that was then directly deliverable via that same plugin. Brilliant idea, but it suffered many of the same issues that my pet topic of browser-based augmentation often does, requiring a client-install that often runs afoul of institutional policies. They have innovated around this with a new proxy-based approach, which means users still get the same augmented, browser-based experience, but now all that is needed to invoke it is a simple bookmarklet. I highly recommend trying it out for yourself. I understand not everyone will be as excited as me by this clever workaround, but I was tickled to see it as not only do I think OERGlue itself is worth a go, this approach has legs in so many other domains. (Actually, a confession, I missed the session but got a private demo later by ones of its creators.)

Jim Groom’s #occupyopened keynote.Too often keynotes leave me flat, but anyone who has seen Jim speak knows that would be impossible after hearing him. Love him or hate him, we don’t call him “The Reverend” for nothing. His talk highlighted the Open Educational Experience that has been #ds106, a digital storytelling course initially run out of the University of Mary Washington that has taken on a life of its own, including its own community-driven online radio station, as well as a host of new courses started by past participants. For me, at least, this refocusing of open away from licenses and onto the act of teaching and learning using the open internet as ones platform was a really welcome change, one that sparked a lot of discussion throughout the conference, as a good keynote should.

Philipp Schmidt’s keynote on the P2PU and badges was both inspiring for what they have managed to achieve, and a wonderful challenge to the OER status quo. There were a ton of great examples and anecdotes of hacking the system that came out of Phillips’ talk; here’s one small, but to me brilliant, example – when met with the challenge of how to give recognition (e.g. “credit”) for a P2P course on web development that was run outside of the bounds of any accrediting institution, the course instructor, John Britton, offered to write a LinkedIn recommendation for any successful student.

There really were too many other good sessions to list in detail here, but luckily they are all already online at Youtube for you to peruse yourself. I only hope we can meet the standards set by David and his team at BYU next year, October 16-18, when we bring the conference back to Vancouver, to the wonderful UBC Robson Square facility we used in 2009. So mark it down in your calendars, and look for a call for papers likely in April-May next year.

Hope to see you then,

Scott Leslie.