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Did You Remember Open Education Week?

by | Mar 21, 2022 | 0 comments

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By Steven J. Bell, Associate University Librarian, Temple University Libraries

Through its publications, conferences and webinars, Against the Grain has been a long-time partner and advocate in advancing awareness of and expertise in the realm of open educational resources (OER). Along with my colleagues Nicole Allen and Marilyn Billings, I had the opportunity to contribute to this effort. The three of us co-authored two of the earliest articles that appeared in 2014 (Vol. 26(5)) and 2016 (Vol.28(5)) issues of the journal. I was also privileged to engage in an interview with David Parker in 2019 (Vol.31(2)) about my work and advocacy in the OER community. I’ve always appreciated these ATG efforts to highlight the contributions and wisdom of other advocates who are working to leverage OER to support academic success and a more affordable higher education for students. 

What I cannot quite recall is reading much about Open Education Week in the pages of ATG.

Owing to its emergence as a premier event in the global OER community, I’m dedicating this post to shine some light on the Open Ed Week, as it is known, for 2022.

Perhaps the most important thing to recognize about Open Ed Week is that it is a great opportunity to celebrate openness at your institution a second time every year. The original culture of openness event is Open Access Week, which takes places every October. To avoid overlap or confusion, as well as provide the open community with a whole other week to celebrate, Open Ed Week occurs every March. So make sure both of them are on your calendar.

Designed on the Open Access Week model, Open Ed Week encourages us to both offer and participate in a wide range of activities to highlight all the amazing work the open education community accomplishes. It is an inclusive event, offering learning activities for everyone from those brand new to open education resources to the most seasoned experts. Learners and educators represent the diversity of global education with events that feature experts from all sectors of higher education, government, publishing and advocacy organizations. This is knowledge sharing at its finest.

What’s become most challenging about Open Ed Week participation is the dilemma of abundance.  How exactly is one supposed to fit all the incredible programming into a single work week. That’s a good problem to have. What I’ve noticed most prominently is that librarians are increasingly making their virtual Open Ed Week programming more widely available. As we have shifted to virtual events, it makes sense that we find many more Open Ed Week e-invites in our inboxes. While it’s rewarding to see so many libraries and open ed-related organizations developing Open Ed Week content, it’s also creating some difficult choices.

Just consider my own array of options. Starting at the local level my own institution offered four different workshops during the week. I made the difficult decision to miss them, opting instead for other programs I wanted to support. I discovered that my statewide open education organization, ALPA (Affordable Learning Pennsylvania), put together a one-hour event that featured four roundtable discussions on topics such as open pedagogy, OER publishing and overcoming faculty barriers to OER adoption. As a member of our Executive Board, I wanted to support this event and it made for a worthwhile hour. I discovered one of our regional groups on the west side of the state was offering a series of programs and I attended one of them as well.

There were multiple programs announced by a variety of organization at the national level, including OER publishers, associations and individual libraries. They all opened their events to anyone who wished to attend. We can always count on SPARC to deliver excellent programming during either of the two open weeks. Open Ed Week knows no borders for those who want to explore global initiatives. OE Global offered multiple workshops and webinars to provide an international perspective to all of the available proceedings.

When I co-wrote the article “Spreading the Word, Building a Community: Vision for a National Librarian OER Movement” in the pages of the Against the Grain in 2014, my co-authors and I were thinking too small. At the time, with many fewer libraries and state groups implementing open and affordable textbook initiatives, advocating for a much larger program of nationwide engagement among librarians, faculty and other academic support professionals seemed a worthy goal that could take time to achieve. None of us could have imagined the speed and vastness with which the open education movement would spread. We certainly failed to think of it as a global movement involving colleagues beyond the library community, which is what it has actually become.

The next big event for the open education community will be the October, 2022 Open Ed Conference, which again will be presented virtually. If you forgot to mark Open Ed Week on your calendar for 2021, you’ll no doubt have many opportunities to participate in 2022. Until then, take a moment now to mark the dates for the Open Ed Conference on your calendar. It is certainly one of the best gatherings of open education advocates, educators, student leaders and international experts. If you’ve been wanting to get more engaged with open education, plan to be a part of this conference now. Then you’ll be even more prepared to engage with Open Ed Week in 2023.


About the Author: Steven J. Bell is the Associate University Librarian at Temple University Libraries. His past blogs have included The Kept-Up Academic Librarian and Designing Better Libraries. He started the blog ACRLog in 2005 and was its primary contributor through 2011. Between 2009 and 2019 he authored two monthly columns, “From the Bell Tower” and “Leading From the Library” for Library Journal. You can learn more about Steven at http://stevenbell.info or follow him on twitter @blendedlib

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