Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing reflections from our #OpenEd scholarship recipients on their experiences at this year’s Open Education Conference. Today, we are featuring Michael Porter from Lawson State Community College.

I attended last year’s annual Open Education Conference as a Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) Fellow – an open education leadership program designed to empower academic professionals to head open education initiatives. It was amazing to see and experience the breadth of knowledge and diversity of topics presented at the event. While this year’s conference was a completely digital affair, I still had the opportunity to participate and even contribute to the Showcase Gallery (Learning About Open Educational Resources). The range of subjects and presenters at #OpenEd20 was more impressive than the traditional, in-person event. I took part in many of the sessions and found Steven Bell’s Taking Open Educational Resources (OER) to the LIS: Reimaging the Preparation of Library Science for Open Education particularly timely.  

A major component of the 2019-2020 SPARC program centered on “learning about OER” during the first semester. This learning was conducted online and followed a traditional college semester format. It’s worth mentioning because the SPARC program was designed for professionals seeking to promote OER initiatives. I found it refreshing that presentations addressed the need to develop an OER curriculum for graduate library and information science education. Creating OER courses at the graduate level opens up tremendous opportunities for academic professionals to embrace the field of OER. 

As someone new to the OER movement, conferences like #OpenEd20 help to promote professionalism, expertise, research, and credibility to those advocating for the development and adoption of OER. The amount of knowledge and expertise presented at these events, however, doesn’t always find its way into graduate education courses. A number of the challenges, concerns, and issues discussed by attendees could be addressed more thoroughly with OER graduate-level classes. 

One of the primary concerns about OER revolves around quality. Fortunately, my instructional design and educational technology background enable me to devise remixing tools and methods that can be used to create better quality OER content. Additionally, OER adoption has historically been difficult to sell to tenured faculty and promotion committees. With the efforts from groups like the Global OER Graduate Network, which seeks to raise the profile of research into open education, open education may soon come to be viewed as a viable field of academic study. 

The Open Education Conference provides a forum for open enthusiasts to network and share ideas and resources. It also serves to identify areas in the field that need to be further explored and developed. OpenEd20 left me with a lot to digest, but I emerged more confident and empowered to pursue my chosen area of interest following this unique and unforgettable experience.

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