This post is by Bethany Eldridge.
The GO-GN 10th anniversary was my second introduction to the GO-GN workshops and this wonderful community of people. I felt welcomed and inspired at my first conference in Scotland, but there is nothing like returning to a group of people who know and value you and your work. From the 60 second introductions to the final group walk to see the Muttart Conservatory, I felt like was returning home, despite never having been to Edmonton, Canada.
Being part of a welcoming community is so important during a doctoral experience. As we discussed in the PhD metaphors session, doing a PhD contains some highs and many lows that are magnified when doing it alone. I was attending this workshop right after having returned from collecting data in Beirut, Lebanon, so I was still processing how to share this experience and my findings. I did not have to worry, though, because my audience was so encouraging and even provided me with hand-written notes that validated my initial thoughts and prepared me for the next steps. Additionally, hearing the other presentations allowed me to return the favor and put community into practice—and to have an exciting day learning more about the possibilities of OER.
Having a longer, two-day workshop was also so beneficial, for we were able to work together during the World Café to begin strategizing for the future of GO-GN and OER. A highlight for me was the focus on understanding OER through a global lens in order to work towards epistemic justice. Centering equity, diversity, and inclusion in our work on OER can facilitate a deeper understanding of OER itself and, ultimately, can support more opportunities for quality education for all. Sharing our individual knowledge and diverse experiences during this session has already shown how there is so much power in collaboration and co-creation.
Personally, this co-creation exercise helped me realize that that I do have a place in this field. Coming from a university department that supports my work but is newer to OER, this time with like-minded researchers and students was invaluable both academically and personally.
Visiting Edmonton had not been on my radar before this workshop and the OEGlobal conference, but I am so grateful for this opportunity to learn in this beautiful city and to explore it with all the lovely GO-GN members. From visiting the largest mall to exploring the conservatory, I will keep these memories forever, and I look forward to having more adventures with this group in the future!
Photo credit: Bethany Eldridge