I am so fortunate to be able to attend the Open Education Global Conference 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa next month. Thanks to a generous grant by the Global OER Graduate Network I am able to not only attend the conference, but also will have an opportunity to share and interact with other PhD researchers from around the world who are engaged in research around open education.
Nearly five years to the day I left Cape Town having spent three years living in the Mother City while doing my masters with the University of Cape Town. My studies and work at UCT enculturated me into the field of open education, as I worked on their Open Educational Resources project back in 2009 as a research assistant. This lead me to conduct my masters research into open education, further fueling my philosophy and positioning as an open educator. I owe so much gratitude to my colleagues at UCT for providing a space to learn and develop my skills along with their amazing team. I can not wait to see them again during and after the conference.
When I started work on my PhD at the University of Victoria, I strongly considered investigating something other than open education in my research. In my work at the time, I was less focused on supporting open and more so on the design, affordances, and pedagogically sound use of educational technologies. It was during the OpenEd 2015 conference where I had an opportunity to meet with my former supervisor, Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams, and through conversations with her and the inspiration, energy, and diversity of the conference program my passion for furthering study in open education was solidified. Really I now believe the movement towards open education is the most exciting thing happening in educational technology today. The linkages between open technologies, networked learning, active learning, student engagement, experiential learning, and digital literacies all come together so nicely through open education. Now I am finding ways and opportunities to bring open practice back into my work as an educational developer, and really excited about the prospects of further research into open education.
As part of the preparation for the conference, the GO-GN network suggested we review Martin Wellers recent talk on the paradoxes of open sholarship. The paradoxes laid out by Martin resonated quite a bit with me in my current role as an educational developer. I am always seeking to infuse open in the work I do with faculty, however I am aware of the perceived and real barriers faculty face in considering making their practice more open. As part of my workshop at the Open Education Global Conference 2017 I hope to dig a bit deeper into the role of educational developers in easing and assisting faculty with the move towards open practice. As change agents within higher education, I believe there is a significant role we can play in supporting this movement.