Guest Post: #OERxDomains21: Connecting people and communities by Martina Emke and Ronny Röwert

Source: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Although we, Martina and Ronny, have known each other on Twitter for some time, the #OERxDomains21 conference is the first time that we are working together. Both of us are thrilled that this happens in the context of the Conference Committee activities!

In times of outstandingly dynamic developments in the field of education in general and education technology in particular, there is a risk that educators’ perspectives not only narrow down with regard to time (“drive by sight”) but also narrow down geographically. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly limits our national and international travel opportunities, but it does not limit the many opportunities for international exchanges between people and communities. This year’s #OERxDomains21 conference provides an excellent opportunity to discuss current developments, aspects and projects related to openness in times of a pandemic, surveillance technologies, the digital divide and open infrastructures for empowering education. For us, one

goal we would like to achieve at the #OERxDomains21 conference is to make the different OER communities more aware of each other’s activities, building on past activities.

There are some excellent examples which sought to connect people and communities at the #OER17 conference. We would like to highlight a few examples here, though we are very much aware that there are many others: Lucy Crompton-Reid’s keynote ‘Opening up Wikimedia content and communities’, a WebTalk with Josie Fraser (#OER17 conference co-chair) and the #TowardsOpenness workshop (with an interview with this year’s Co-Chair Jim Groom) (Friedrich, 2017).

While some of these activities evolved into new activities which connected people and communities in new contexts, some good work unfortunately could not be continued. One example is the German Informationsstelle OER (OERinfo), which was concerned with raising OER awareness, fostering the creation of OER resources and supporting the development of Open Educational Practices in all educational sectors in Germany. Their funding by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research ceased at the end of last year. Although the great OER resources, which were developed by OERinfo or with their invaluable help, will persist, the Informationsstelle’s networking activities, such as the facilitation of designated OERCamps, are sadly missed.

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly has led to a big push for digitally enhanced teaching and learning, but this push needs to be critically examined (Williamson, 2021). Open Education and Domains communities in different countries are very actively involved in making sure that both OER policies and practices are putting attention to questions of openness, in full knowledge that currently established infrastructures pave the way for what teaching and learning will look like in the next years and beyond. At present, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is developing a national OER strategy, with public participation and consultation taking place at the same time that we are preparing for the #OERxDomains21 conference in April.

For us, this situation makes international OER and Domains exchanges even more important: We will seek to bring lessons learnt from the German context to the conference discussions, and we hope to take valuable ideas and experiences from other parts of the world back to shape the German OER world in our professional capacities.

References:

Friedrich, C. (2017, April 23). Late first thoughts: #TowardsOpenness at #OER17 [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://blog.christianfriedrich.org/english/late-first-thoughts-towardsopenness-at-oer17/

Williamson, B. (2021). Education Technology Seizes a Pandemic Opening. Current History, 120(822), 15-20. https://doi.org/10.1525/curh.2021.120.822.15