“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed, that’s all who ever have”Margaret Mead
The FemEdTech group of caring people is such a group. This group has no formal membership. Those in the group don’t hold formal meetings or organize rallies. The group has a quasi, semi, partially structured framework. Membership is self initiated and actions are self directed. Members from around the globe participate in this group of caring people. The #FemEdTech quilt project is proof of the group’s existence and it’s reach into a digital and personal ethos of care.
In preparation and in conjunction with the OER20 Conference in London, England, a plan was crafted by FemEdTech organizers to visualize the conference theme “The Care in Openness” and evidence this notion of care. This became an open invitation and a call to participate in a global quilt project. Participation was described in many ways, not the least being the creation of a quilt square. The project is guided by Sarah Lambert’s (2017) three principles of social justice in open education (referenced below) – redistributive justice, recognitive justice, and representational justice. The project has three parts – preparing and assembling the people and quilt as a link to social justice and open education contexts; creating a physical and digital archive of elements relating to the theme of care; and, the sharing and completion of the artefact at the OER20 conference in both material and digital form.
It was the community and call that caught my attention. The invitation came at the same time as I was writing a proposal for a presentation at OER20 and immediately sparked my imagination. Visions of quilts created and crafted by Canadian women, including my sisters, came to mind. While I have never contributed to the physical production of a quilt, I have participated by sharing fabric swatches from past sewing projects. I described my vision in the intention to submit:
“I have a quilt at home that is made up of all the bits of fabric that my three sisters and I had used for many of our childhood sewing projects. When I look at this quilt I am able to re-visualize each of the finished products that were made from that swatch of fabric, bringing back memories of a rich collage of failed attempts or favourite outfits we four had stitched together with our own hands. My square will be just that – a re-presentation of some of my ed tech failed attempts and favourite ‘outfits’, captured in the colours, shapes, and words embroidered into the fabric.”
As with all visions, they bump into reality and end up looking different. Without my sewing machine at hand, without a handy supply of fabric or tools, and with the parameters of a 6 X 6 inch square in which to craft something meaningful, I was bereft of ever getting the promised square completed. But an after-season sale at a local fabric shop renewed by mission and re-ignited my vision. I gathered a modicum of materials together and shared my promise with the #FemEdTechQuilt community in a tweet.
Then the story emerged. It became a layering of blues and greens representational of the open spaces of the Canadian landscape. Open landscapes look different under a vast blue sky.
I envisioned long walks through tall grass, hikes along forest trails, the open fields of my childhood, dappled evergreen woods covered in layers of snow and ice, the blue of summer lakes, and undulations of waves lapping the shore. Adding a few beads and buttons represent the magic of first snows and snow covered hills. No tech in sight!
My crafting of this vision of landscape calls forth an ethos of care that exists in Canadian landscapes where people come together to help each other when land and weather often dictate rules of engagement. Not just a “come from away” story. It’s a neighbourly thing, and ethos of care, built into the psyche of those who live within open landscapes.
Now to add the tech element! My vision of blues called forth the logo from Virtually Connecting – itself a modified representation of a painting created by my mother where I see heads turned toward each other in relationship and conversation. Virtually Connecting is such a place where relationships and conversations exist in an ethos of care – with intentionally equitable hospitality (Bali et al., 2019). The logo recreation on my quilt square is left without the lettering, not because it isn’t important, but because I wanted the focus to be on the faces, as representative of the people in conversation, not the text that binds many ideas or people together.
Finally, to add the contrasting colour – a few red buttons in the shape of hearts. I decided to gather the buttons strategically around the logo as representative of the limitation of 10 people in a Google Hangout, that is no longer a constraint. The heart shaped buttons are representative of the ethos of care held in these Virtually Connecting spaces, despite the barriers and boundaries imposed by the technology, and where conversations and laughter often flourish beyond the screen. This VC logo and heart shaped button combination is centrally placed on the quilt square, overtop the background of yellow – visions of sunrises and sunsets – and black.
And so, my square is finished. It’s carefully packaged and about to be sent. I won’t reveal the finished square just yet. I’ll share this when I see it again, in the midst of all the other squares crafted and created by others in the FemEdTech community, coming from all parts of the globe. This will happen when I attend the OER20 conference in London England in early April. I am humbled by the stories and amazed by the voices sharing openly about their #FemEdTechQuilt experiences as this Quilt of Care and Justice is created.
Bali, M., Caines, A., Hogue, R. J., DeWaard, H., & Friedrich, C. (2019). Intentionally equitable hospitality in hybrid video dialogue: The context of Virtually Connected. eLearning Magazine. Retrieved from https://elearnmag.acm.org/archive.cfm?aid=3331173
Lambert, S. R. (2018). Changing our (Dis)Course: A Distinctive Social Justice Aligned Definition of Open Education. Journal of Learning for Development, 5(3), 225–244. Retrieved from https://jl4d.org/index.php/ejl4d/article/view/290