Open Education: OpenEd2012 (1/2)

Wordle of OpenEd12 Tweets

Wordle of OpenEd12 Tweets

I had the privilege to attend the Open Education conference again this year. It was, as ever, a whirlwind of enthusiasm, activity, and challenge. Scott Leslie and many others did an amazing job of conference organization.

Many others have already offered their feedback or commentary (and in a more timely fashion), for example:

If you’ve written up the conference and I’ve missed you please feel free to comment with a link to your post. The recording of all the conference sessions are available at:

I tweeted much of the conference (though my volume of tweets definitely trailed off as the event progressed), and to be honest as a result large sections of the event are being held in that offsite memory. In one attempt to consider what the conference as a whole talked about I wordled by tweets (filtering a few things like opened12 and twitter handles there because I was RT’ing or dialoguing with them). One version is above and another fuller version is on Wordle: Wordle: opened12tweets

I’m struck by how much Gardner Campbell fills centre stage in this – I think as the first keynote he was always likely to set some of the tone for the event, but I also think that, with no disrespect, to the other keynotes he captured something of the mood, aspirations, and hopes of the open education community over the past years and how different members have reacted to different directions that have emerged. I think it’s worth watching again or taking the time to watch if you weren’t there. I’m torn about how accessible the aspects of the keynote are for those who’ve not been in this community to some extent, but I think reflections on the patterns of innovation, development, and change are much more universal and worth engaging with. Prufrock ‘s refrain of “That is not it, that is not what I meant at all” rings true in many situations .

Perhaps because of the sessions I was in MOOCs where often on the fringes  of the conversation rather than centre stage. #MOOCtober aside I think the absence is in part that the conference attendees were engaged in their own existing work and in part that the xMOOCs are a different crowd [cMOOCs were around in places and I wasn’t in the MIT OCW presentation so I can’t comment on how much EdX featured, but they are different beasts (and generally hold a much stronger interest in, if not commitment to, Open)]. I will note that there was quite a lot of discussion about #ds106 and #phonar

There was also a lot about Open Textbooks. Although I had appreciated some of the differences in the role and cost of textbooks before I started work in the US, the difference in the importance of textbooks and just how much money (and power/dependency) is invested in the textbook thing still surprises me (and reading some of my European colleagues’ blog posts I’m not alone).  Discussing Open Textbooks is a post on its own but in terms of the conference – they cropped up a lot and that irrespective of your take on open textbooks in general, Siyavula‘s efforts are amazing and are making a fantastic difference to a lot of students. There are two other presentations that I’ll talk about in a subsequent post, as they point to the bigger picture of how in how the community and OER landscape is changing.

The conference dinner was remarkable, not for the food (which was fine), not for the boat trip (which was lovely), but for the band – which for a while at least is available for your viewing pleasure on Cogdog’s playlist, ‘the band on the boat‘. I can’t imagine many other conferences which have the community, identity and sheer glorious gallus [for the non-Scots let’s say “confident audacity”] to have a semi-spontaneous pick up band featuring a large number of the conference keynotes and organizers. Nor for that matter can I imagine many conferences were a reasonable number of people danced (well and not awkwardly). More than anything else it showcased the conference as a community.


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