This post was written by PhD researcher Natascha Chtena, University of California, Los Angeles.

 

After a hectic week of catching up my work, I’ve finally had some time to reflect on what an amazing experience OE Global 2018 and the preceding workshop with the GO-GN family have been.

The 2-day GO-GN workshop took place right before OE Global, and gave us all an opportunity to share not just our research, but also our PhD journeys and discuss the many challenges we face as graduate students in a safe and supportive environment (special thanks to Catherine Cronin and Chrissi Nerantzi for facilitating that conversation). Doing a PhD can be isolating and many schools and programs lack safe spaces where graduate students can seek and provide support in a community that understands them. 

Therefore, during the workshop I was fortunate not only to have shared my own research and received feedback from established and budding experts in the field of open education, but also to have been part of a Community (yes, with a capital C) of remarkable people who care about each other, about education and about making the world a better place. 

As someone with a highly international and interdisciplinary background, I am so impressed by – and grateful for! – the diversity of the group with regard to research interests, institutional background and geography. We learned so much from each other in terms of research methods/ frameworks and different approaches to “open”, but also perhaps more importantly, we were confronted with the fact that openness is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, it is interpreted differently in different parts of the world, and introduced as a solution to different, albeit related, problems and issues. Recognizing the local and situated nature of open innovation is, I believe, extremely important for those of us interested in matters of policy, as well as the internationalization/ digitization of education at all and any levels.

During my time in Delft, I also had the opportunity to present some preliminary findings from my dissertation on open textbooks at the OE Global conference. I’d wanted to attend the conference for a few years now and it truly exceeded my expectations — a truly global, critical and multi-disciplinary perspective on open educational research and practice. Work by researchers such as Catherine Cronin, Lorena Barba, Rajiv Jhangiani and Igor Lesko was incredibly inspiring and gave me a lot of food for thought. I also realized that there’s really nothing like attending a conference in person, bouncing around ideas and gaining insights on emerging research. I’ve returned full of inspiration and fantastic feedback that I am in the process of building into my work. 

I want to send an enormous thanks to the GO-GN family for the kind and generous invitation to join the activities in Delft, including the OE Global conference, and especially the team at the heart of it all: Bea de los Arcos, Beck Pitt, Rob Farrow, Martin Weller, Robert Schuwer, and Natalie Eggleston. They truly went above and beyond to provide mentorship, advice and networking opportunities, and I am so impressed with how generous they were with their knowledge and time. 

I look forward to continue to grow along the GO-GN family, to follow their successes and evolution, and to many more meetings to come!

 

Natascha presented her research on ‘Open Textbooks and their Implications for Knowledge Production, Distribution and Reuse’.

 

Featured image by Natalie Eggleston, CC BY.

Written by Bea de los Arcos

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