‘Soup’s On!’…by Kathy Essmiller

I am so excited to get to write the post that shouts we are only a month away from OER20! Here it is: We Are Only A Month Away From OER20!!! Holly, Cristina and I are counting down the days until we are able to join this “patchwork of scholars”, as described by Jade Vu Henry, in exploring openness and care. The three of us have been here in Stillwater, Oklahoma, diligently preparing for the conference by having afternoon tea, referring to cookies as biscuits, and saying things to each other such as ‘mind the gap’. We are almost ready.

As Deb Baff and I will share in our presentation, Roger’s (2003) Diffusion of Innovations Theory speaks to the value of interaction with communities beyond one’s own local network. Holly, Cristina, and I are increasingly thankful for this opportunity to join Deb and others  in multiple networks (Leigh Wolfi and Kate Molloy) as we anticipate opportunities to critically consider OER and open practices in ways promised by Claire McAvinia to be “exciting but disruptive”. Holly has incorporated open practices into an undergraduate critical digital literacy course she presents, and you will be encouraged when you hear of the ongoing community these open practices help create and sustain. Cristina, an instructional designer with a commitment to both improvement of her craft and to student agency, will share the privacy policy she has created which guides data collection associated with our Libraries’ open initiatives. Cristina did it, friends, she found a way to not only honor student privacy, but also help them learn more about what data they own, why they should care, and still iteratively improve the effectiveness of our instruction. Spoiler: she talks to the students.

Talking to students, respecting agency, building community — these are all answers to Helen Crump’s question, “What interests are served when we care?” As I follow Deb’s suggestion to ponder the role care plays in my “own working days”, I find myself overwhelmed with thankfulness. I am thankful for experiences made possible by dreams such as the #FemEdTechQuilt project, through which I have made in Deb Baff a best friend I cannot wait to meet. I am thankful for open scholars such as Catherine Cronin, who not only share their work but take time to smile and chat with strangers at the end of long conference days. I’m thankful for the example of colleagues such as Jennifer Englund, who in a casual chat about open a year and a half ago said, ‘well, I find a lot of interesting conversations here . . .’, and sent me links to #OER19, #femedtech, and so many others. I’m thankful to work with people as committed to care as Holly and Cristina, and to have a job where, for real, my gig is to care.

My mom, who is super proud of my gig, used to call my siblings and I to the dinner table by hollering ‘soup’s on!’. Stacy Katz pointed us to the conference organizers’ welcome in which they described the reasons informing their selection of Bryan Mathers’ can of soup as an appropriate graphic for the OER20 conference. Friends, we are coming together as scholars in a space intentionally designed and implemented to help all involved feel included and cared for. And the graphic, the scale, is a single can of soup. While there is undeniable merit in impacting the lives of millions for decades, my soul finds joy in knowing that, in one month, I will be gathering with scholars for whom one can of soup represents a worthy scope. Gathering with scholars who say ‘hey, come make a quilt with us, even if you actually can’t we have a way that you can’. Gathering with scholars who believe it important just to gather.  And we are only a month away!