#OER23 A Moment of Joy in the Open

If you serve others as fully as you can, what you do will be a source of inner joy.

Dalai Lama

I am cross-posting some thoughts from the OER 2023 conference held in Inverness Scotland this past week. These were originally posted on my PhD blog site Step By Step.

Getting nudged!

FIrst, I needed to be nudged back into the open spaces where I have blogged in the past, and into some new spaces where I could reconnect with others.

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted something into the open on a blog or tweet or toot or even into Signal (though I’m not sure what it’s called in that platform; maybe a sigh).

That includes a long absence and silence in this blogging space.

I’ve silently shared in more cloistered spaces and kept my journalling on this blog site as private submissions – a place where I’ve crafted my thoughts for my teaching and the dissertation I’ve been writing since a long time ago! I’m approaching the end of that writing process so it’s an opportune time to get pushed back into the open, and OER23 is just the time to do this.

I am taking a few days to engage in the online spaces (Discord, Mastadon, Twitter, Kaltura) for the OER23 conference in Inverness, Scotland. I got up early, adjusting my internal clock to UK time and revelled in what is mostly an in-person conference, with some online and live-streamed components. Shared snippets of presentations and conversations stream across my screen. I collect and curate the multiple offerings of questions, comments, insights, issues, and presentation notes like a magpie, knowing there is a gem in the mix that I don’t want to miss. While I’m missing the chatter and laughter, the smiles and hugs, those attending the conference have reached across the kilometers and miles between Scotland and my location, with reactions, ping-backs and an occasional follow that encourage me to step further into the open.

Then I presented with my partners in a research venture – Dr. Verena Roberts and (soon to be Dr.) Leo Havemann. We dip into an opening conversation about open discourse within an open dissertation. Open has evidently been a part of my PhD journey since before it began back in 2018. While we await confirmation of research ethics approval, we begin to plan out our conversations. We’re taking our question(s) to the OER23 crowd – more questions and insights from the conversation may lead our research in new and interesting directions. I’ll post the slides from our session on the Step By Step blog site.

This OER23 session is loosely based on the infographic crafted by Laura Gogia (2016) (CC BY-SA 4.0) that looks at the process, productions and presentations that form and shape an open thesis. This is a continuation of conversations with (Dr.) Gabi Witthaus during our Open Thesis Wikipedia writing in 2021. It’s a shared story-telling opportunity for Leo, Verena and I – bringing some sense of wonder and joy to our scholarship in the open. Through this research, we hope to discover more about our ‘selves’ as academics, our journeys as open scholars, and our connections to open educational practices.

After the conference, I took some time to reflect.

There was a thread through the OER 2023 conference that I pulled on, tugged at, thought about.

This mulit-coloured and multi-faceted thread led me to interesting places and new spaces, where ideas and experiences emerged. This is my post-conference reflection. I didn’t physically attend the conference, but did register. Since I have commitments that keep me here, bound in place I rely on digital technologies to take me to conference venues far from home. Thanks to digital spaces like Discord, Twitter, and Mastadon, there were moments I felt connected and present in the conference rooms and conversations – even if these were liminal and ephemeral. The presentation I shared with Dr. Verena Roberts and Leo Havemann was particularly joyful, a moment when I felt present and in-the-room with others who were onsite.

But there were also many moments when I was wishing I was there! There were times when the reality of post-pandemic experiences set in – being together in person is still a dream for me in my current role as a primary care-giver for an elderly family member.

But what ultimately emerged in the aftermath of OER23 was an overall feeling of JOY – in making and connecting with people, ideas, experiences. The images shared by conference participants were reflective, personal, and eye-catching. Perhaps these examples will capture the lived experiences and feelings of the moments.

There’s JOY in shared moments.

There’s JOY in feeling like you belong.

I’ve been connecting and continue to connect to the Global OER Graduate Network (GO_GN). This group and it’s dynamic team of leaders has been a part of my doctoral journey. There’s joy in knowing that you belong somewhere when the dissertation and research work can be isolating and lonely. Feelings of belonging don’t just happen through official membership – it’s offered by others who see and recognize you – for who you are, what you do, and how you share. I have often reached out to others in this group for feedback, questions, and encouragement. Those who travel through similar processes, productions, and presentations in graduate networks can provide support through feelings of affinity. I have contributed to the GO_GN group to support others in the community. This valuable resource [The GO_GN Open Research Handbook] in research methods and conceptual frameworks, as well as research reviews, was shared at the conference and is open to all.

There’s JOY in making something together.

There is a thread in the OER 2023 conference [FemEdTech at OER23] that tracks back to the OER 2020 conference that I had planned to attend. In 2020, the plane tickets were in hand and accommodations where booked. In the months leading up to the conference I actively created and crafted with others in the FemEdTech community that had me stitching and designing a quilt square to be showcased at the conference [The Digital Quilt]. Then the pandemic happened and all joy in being present and in person dissipated. While my contribution is a small part of the overall finished quilt project [Contributions], there is joy in knowing that part of this FemEdTech Quilt fabrication and story contains my share in the making [Care in Community]. The reconnections with joy (thanks Lorna Campbell & Frances Bell) is the echo that resonates through this reflection. Perhaps with the tradition of quilting to share story and culture in Canada, I can hope that the FemEdTech quilt will someday make the trip across the ocean to an open educational space in the coming year(s). Perhaps a future OTESSA conference would be a great place to showcase this joy-ful exploration in connecting through openness in digital and physical discourse and story.

There is JOY in endings.

Conferences end. Events come to natural conclusions. As the OER23 conference concluded, a few final tweets and comments gave me joy.

As I approach the endings in the doctoral work, I stop to find joy in this moment of pause.

It’s as if I am caught in a crystal. I am reflective as I reflect. I am crystallizing my thoughts as I write.

My reflections focus on facets of my dissertation methodologies (cyrstallization and post-intentional phenomenology). [See previous posts on Playing with Crystallization and Post Phenomenology: An Exploration]

I know that this deep thinking and constant questioning in dissertation work will come to an end and this brings me joy! Not only since the hard work and constant efforts of reading, writing, thinking, and analyzing will come to an end, but in the feelings of accomplishment in completing a job, looking back along it’s trajectory and knowing you’ve worked through many challenges.

Where do you find your JOY? Be sure, as you venture through your life-experiences to take moments to feel and experience joy!

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1 Response to #OER23 A Moment of Joy in the Open

  1. Gemma Tur says:

    I have felt the joy of being online with the #OER conference for many years.. I also had tickets in 2020… but really I now need to feel the joy of being there too!! thanks for sharing, Helen!!!

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