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 Miryana Valenzuela, a student at Los Angeles Valley College.

Wow #OpenEd20!

It’s been almost three weeks since the five-day, virtual conference wrapped up and I’m still talking about it. As a first-time participant, I must admit I felt a little unprepared for the large amount of content and information I’d receive. By the end of the fifth day, I could not have felt more energized and ready to discuss the importance of the open movement.

The Open Education Conference opened my eyes to how open knowledge creates opportunities to enhance learning. Many of the conversations, such as “Building a Sustainable Spanish Project,” encouraged the practice of discussing diverse viewpoints to improve book projects and models for future open textbooks. As a bilingual speaker myself, the concept of creating a Spanish book where learners can engage in conversation and write in their target language fascinates me. It’s an idea I hope to see adopted for other languages. Additionally, “Supplement Your Foreign Language Class with Open Educational Resources (OER)” offered language learners and teachers free, easy-to-use tools that improve outcomes in a distance learning environment. Listening to the commitment and passion of all the open proponents inspired me beyond words. 

Over the course of the conference, attending virtual meetings in the morning and then reading tweets from the Michelson 20MM Foundation and other attendees became a highlight of my daily routine. The programming was so expertly designed that I easily created an itinerary of live-stream events I wanted to attend, and recordings of others I could view at a later time. This agenda allowed me to plan my work and college schedule accordingly.

Tea breaks, Discord conversations, and the availability of the presentations all helped make this year’s Open Education Conference welcoming to newcomers and a breeze to navigate. Like-minded participants sharing the same commitment to open education created a sense of community and a supportive environment full of good vibes. My experience was one I’ll never forget and I’m excited for next year’s event! In the meantime, I’m redoubling my efforts to make knowledge available to all and most importantly, free of barriers to education.

The Michelson 20MM Foundation is dedicated to supporting and investing in leading organizations, technologies, and initiatives that seek to transform learning and improve access to educational opportunities that lead to a meaningful career. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon and inventor Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson. Visit us at 20mm.org.