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Finding My Tribe: Reflections on my first GO-GN workshop and OER24 conference

This post is by Abiud Bosire (Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen Nürnberg), Doctoral candidate in Comparative and International Education

The GO-GN Workshop

A week before the Easter weekend 2024, I flew across the English Channel and Celtic Sea to Cork, Ireland to attend the GO-GN workshop and OER24 conference (#OER24), at the Munster Technological University. Attending my first GO-GN workshop and OER conference was an exhilarating experience, as this marked my initiation as both a Penguin and member of the GO-GN community.

During the workshop, it was captivating to join other GO-GNers, including current doctoral candidates, Alumni and Open Education experts from various universities and corners of the world. Engaging with fellow doctoral researchers still conducting their doctoral projects, alumni who had traversed similar paths, and seasoned experts was truly inspiring.  The sense of camaraderie, warmth, and shared passion not only for Open Education but also for educational research in general, instantly made me feel at home within this community. As I presented my current doctoral project on “Global Education in Diverse and Divergent School Settings” I was met with invaluable insights and encouragement from my peers and professors present, further reinforcing the significance of this supportive network.

Explaining our Trail of Possibilities. 

The GO-GN workshop transcended the mere exchange of research updates, providing a platform to immerse ourselves in the academic journeys of our colleagues and forge lasting friendships. One particularly enlightening activity was the “Metaphor” session led by Prof. Martin Weller. Here, we were tasked with conceptualising our Ph.D. journeys using metaphorical imagery and visually representing them. Our team (including Abiud BosireRegina GongVidminas Vizgirda, and Vi Truong) aptly coined ours as “The Trail of Possibilities” where one has to navigate various obstacles to achieve. Just like mountain climbers, Ph.D. candidates have to invest in preparing for the Ph.D. journey, and during the journey itself, while depending on experienced scholars and peers. As satisfying as it can be to achieve the terminal degree (Ph.D.), one realises that this is not the end, but another step closer to the possibilities that the doctoral degree provides. Kudos to Ralph Spijker’s team for crafting the most compelling and creative Ph.D. metaphor and graphical representation.

Trail of possibilities: ­Our team’s imagery representation of a Ph.D journey.

The OER24 conference

Following the GO-GN workshop, the OER24 conference on the 27 and 28 March provided further enrichment. Grounded on the theme “Digital Transformation in Open Education,” the conference promised a deep dive into the ever-evolving field of open educational resources and research in the digital age.  Importantly, the conference lived up to my expectations.

The conference kicked off on the 27 March 2024 with a rousing introduction and welcome by the conference co-chairs Dr. Gearóid Ó Sulleabháin and Dr. Tom Farrelly, and the MTU president Prof. Maggie Cusack. The igniting and inspiring keynote addresses from Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani on day one, and Dr. Catherine Cronin and Prof. Laura Czerniewicz set the tone for the transformative discussions throughout the conference. Dr. Jhangiani’s keynote addresses centred on the power of storytelling, which delved into the power of open education resources to democratize access to education and empower leaners worldwide. In addition, Dr. Jhangiani focus on the challenges of early career researchers (ECRs) in academia, deeply resonated with academic background where resources and opportunities have always been hard to come by.

The parallel session presentations were equally impressive, covering a diverse range of topics related to open education resources and the current need for digital transformation in OER. From innovative pedagogical approaches to emerging technologies, each presentation offered a fresh perspective and practical approach for harnessing the power of open education in the digital age. The parallel session presentation by the Open Society University Network (OSUN), a network that endeavours to empower students and individuals from different regions to tell and share their societal narratives for the world to view them, their societies and cultures from their own perspectives and not based on assumptions and stereotypes highlighted the heightened need for global education in schools in our contemporary societies.

As the conference drew to a close on 28 March 2024, I found myself reflecting on the myriad ways in which digital transformation, and AI is reshaping the landscape on not only open education, but education in general. From open access resources to collaborative online platforms, the possibilities are endless. Yet amidst the excitement that comes with these technological innovations, it is crucial to remember the core values of open education, inclusivity, accessibility, and empowerment, and the need for credibility in education.

Departing the vibrant Cork city to Nürnberg, Germany on 29 March 2024 with a brief stopover at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, I carried with me not just memories, but a profound sense of purpose to continue with my work and the desire to contribute to Open Education and education as a whole. The GO-GN workshop and OER24 conference was more than just an academic event for me, as it acted as a catalyst for change in my work and ignited within me a belief in the power of Open Education. Additionally, the connections forged, the discussions held, ideas exchanged, and insights gained inspired me and invigorated my energy for the next phase of my work. I am grateful for this opportunity to expand and enrich my social capital, a precious resource that should never be taken for granted.

One question that has constantly crossed my mind since my one-week experience in Cork, Ireland is how global education can be integrated in Open Education, and its resources made openly accessible for all? This discussion is surely bookmarked somewhere on my Evernote folders and one to be explored in the coming days. My gratitude goes to the Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) network for their unwavering support to doctoral candidates, and in promoting openness and inclusivity in educational research. Together, let us continue to champion the cause of open education.

Image credits:

  • Group activity photo by GO-GN and licensed CC BY 4.0 (feature image).
  • Trail of Possibilities by Abiud Bosire (used with permission).
  • OER24 Welcome photo by Abiud Bosire (used with permission).

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