Conferencing with Care

#OER20: A Global Conference (from home)

As you know, this week I had the honor of co-chairing the Open Education Research conference. I hope that by sharing some of my researh and scholarly activities here, it might serve as a reference point for your own professional steps moving forward. Sometimes, just catching a glimpse of these kinds of proceedings can help one imagine what kinds of work one might interested in pursuing moving forard. So, I thought I would share with you a bit of my work this past week here.

Originally, #OER20 was to take place in London, but due to the pandemic, our face-to-face gathering was unfortunately canceled, which was very disappointing for me as I have been working to design and support this proceeding since last summer. But thankfully, the committee voted to try to take it online. In two weeks’ time, the whole conference plan was transformed, and this change made it possible for people to register for free. The result was a much larger gathering – some 1200+ participants joined. I am so grateful some of my students were able to participate too and catch a glimpse of academic conference proceedings. The emergency “pivot” made for a very special experience and opens up new ideas in terms of thinking about what is possible for the future of academic conferences.

Some time ago, we selected the idea of “care” as the central consideration of the conference. Little did we know, this theme would be so prophetic. It was wonderful to see so many of my friends from all over the world gathered in one place and to share our research on open education. Also, it was wonderful to meet so many new colleagues. Finally, it was truly special to me to have you participate. To have my students involved was a great “gain” in terms of the pivot from f2f vs. online proceedings.

Later on, I will publish a synthesis of all my reflections on this experience, but suffice to say that I am very proud of the collective work done at #oer20, especially at such a difficult and unprecedented time. I think that #oer20 gave many people a chance to come together to think about the urgency of care in education, at a time when everything has indeed been upended. It is true that this is a painful and fearful time, but in crisis, often we also have the chance to realign our commitments and priorities and identify what is critical as we move forward with hope. Crisis literally means a turning point where things can get better or worse. I want to imagine the world that emerges from this crisis will be a more caring one. My work in making #oer20 happen is my way of contributing to that effort. A note of thanks to any students who joined and participated. And if you missed it, but are curious about academic conferences, please know that the entire conference is now archived and can be watched at any time!

Our work moving forward

We will continue with our tutorial process this week, with your one-on-one check-ins. See you all on-screen at 4:30 pm on 4/6.

I look forward to seeing you all soon!


Dr. Zamora

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