So just how did we end up here?…
It is crazy to think that it was a year ago when the three of us first met face to face in Coventry. The occasion was the yearly gathering convened by the Disruptive Media Learning Lab and the focus for 2018 was Learning on/with the Open Web. This one day MozFest “fringe event” was a great excuse for colleagues and friends from far and near to coalesce in the UK’s future City of Culture (2021). We focused together on the founding principles of the World Wide Web (WWW), imagined by its creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee as “an open platform that would allow everyone, everywhere to share information, access opportunities, and collaborate across geographic and cultural boundaries.”
The delightful Jim Groom teamed up with Lauren Heywood and Daniel to bring to life the “Back to the Future of the Web” installation/exhibition. Mia shared the Networked Narratives story (#NetNarr) – a 3+ year digitalstorytelling project highlighting connected learning on the open web (co-developed and facilitated with Alan Levine). In addition, Catherine Cronin, Maha Bali (who participated virtually) and Mia also shared their work on the development of Equity Unbound (#unboundeq) – another open learning network dedicated to intercultural learning, equity and digital literacies. Wendy Liu talked about building a critical radical understanding of the Open Web, Doug Taylor presented on the potential of Wikimedia projects for education and both Anne-Marie Scott and Tony Hirst discussed with Jim Groom the future of Open Web infrastructure. And these are just a few of the fantastic contributions that participants made to the event (you can check abstracts and further details on this SPLOT (yes, it was a SPLOT-powered conference!): https://conf.owlteh.org/contributions/
A lasting energy resulted from this gathering which became the early spark for our #OER20 collaboration. And so we are thrilled to be chairing this year’s #OER conference because we know that this community of educators, researchers, technologists, scholars, thinkers, artists, makers, and practitioners is special. We also know that the conference last year in Galway was a touchstone moment for both criticality and hope when thinking about the future of open education. And so we have set out to design a thematic for this year that took what emerged from #OER19 into close consideration. We listened, we reflected, and we thought deeply together over the course of this past summer. We sought to discover the “just right” lens to further our collective inquiry when thinking about what is at stake for open education at this time. The lens that emerged for us has been the idea of care in relation to open educational practices, learning technologies and, more broadly, education at large.
Covering issues of privilege, equity, precarity, power relations and public interest, #OER20 will put the spotlight on both the value and limitations of care in Open Education. Care might seem at first glance a “soft” term, one we all may associate with nurturing and nourishment, kindness and consideration. And these associations with care are worthwhile. But we hope to dig deeper, and lend this term a kind of rigor not previously considered in depth. The ultimate goal of caring dispositions, activities and practices is to bring about well-being; to have an impact on our world that enables us “to live as well as possible” (Fisher & Trento 1990). Open educational and scholarly practices can be framed as a form of care, when challenging models that prioritise individual gains or profit over the well-being of communities (Deville et al. 2018). But in the age of data surveillance and significant risk on the open web, how can we map out and give visibility to the critical components of care practices? How can we build sustainable communities, participatory practices, and civic engagement for the public good and a healthier democracy?
We hope you have recognized talent of the brilliant Bryan Mathers in our #OER20 imagery at the top of this post. The #OER20 soup is just a little teaser to wet your appetite for things to come. Soup is nourishing. It can fortify the body and soul. But soup has also been commodified, mass produced and distributed. Andy Warhol famously appropriated the can of soup from mass media, questioning (and perhaps believing in) the scale up of consumer culture. We see similar tensions when thinking about care in openness and education. What are your thoughts about care in relation to openness, technology and education? What role does care play in your own working days? We hope to gather all the key ingredients that can help blend open education and caring pedagogies. So tell us, what is your special recipe?
-Daniel Villar-Onrubia, Jonathan Shaw, & Mia Zamora