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People and connections: What I’m taking away from OER23 (Melissa Ashman)

In the second post of our series, we’re delighted to share Melissa Ashman’s experiences of the recent GO-GN workshop and OER23 conference. Thanks so much for sharing your reflections, Melissa!

“In early April, I had the immense pleasure of attending a GO-GN workshop and OER23 conference held at the University of the Highlands & Islands in Inverness, Scotland. The scenery on the campus and the surrounding landscape were breathtakingly beautiful, and I seized many opportunities to get outside (or gaze into the distance) to reflect on and absorb all that I was learning—and learn, did I ever!

At the GO-GN workshop, I was feeling nervous yet excited to present on my proposed research project to a room full of open education enthusiasts. This was my first time attending a GO-GN workshop in-person, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would anyone be interested in my topic? Would they have questions or advice? Would I be able to overcome the 8 hours of jet lag and express myself clearly, or would I finish my 20-minute presentation in less than 2 minutes? Would I trip during my presentation or gesture so wildly that I knock over my water bottle? 

I need not have worried, though, because everybody was exceedingly kind, welcoming, and supportive. I was asked questions about my project and received feedback that I have been mulling over in the weeks since the workshop, and I’m grateful for the feedback as I can use it to further refine my work.

Besides the opportunity to hear reactions to my proposed research, it was an amazing experience to meet so many other doctoral students doing research in open education. While I enjoyed learning more about the research projects that others are completing or have recently completed, it was particularly valuable to forge connections with others who are walking a similar pathway as me. In my own doctoral program, I am the only student in my cohort who is doing a dissertation related to open education. I am passionate about the topic, so being able to talk with other students who are just as passionate was particularly meaningful for me. 

The OER23 conference was the cherry on top of an already fantastic GO-GN experience. It was indescribable meeting so many of the open education folks in-person who I have been following online for many years. As well, the presentations and keynotes gave me much to think about, including: 

  • new terminology, such as “hopepunk” and “grimdark,” courtesy of Rikke Toft Nørgård
  • an analogy of ChatGPT being autotune for knowledge courtesy of Dave Cormier
  • new ways to think about supporting online learning using a social justice perspective courtesy of Gabi Whitthaus

Since returning home, I have continued to mull over the ideas and perspectives that were shared. Each time I catch a glimpse of my GO-GN penguin stress ball or see one of the GO-GN stickers adorning the cover of my notebook, I am reminded of the incredible experiences I had at the workshop and conference. I look forward to future opportunities to engage with and contribute to GO-GN!”

Photo credit: Melissa Ashman

Featured image for post by GO-GN and licensed CC BY 4.0.

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