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Across the Pond for Open Education! (Lucas Johnson)

In the third post of our series, we’re delighted to share Lucas Johnson’s experiences of April’s GO-GN workshop and OER23 conference. Thanks so much for sharing your reflections, Lucas!

“The return of travel and in particular the return to travel for scholarly activities is something I have embraced with mixed emotions. The pandemic came into full force at the start of my Ph.D. journey and restricted all travel for me even travel which was scheduled for the coursework was cancelled and became Zoom. Ideologically I am also challenged by the environmental impact of travel for the sake of conferences and networking. My journey to Inverness supported by GO-GN reminded me of the value of our social interactions and our social natures and made it evident that some of these connections can not be made as readily through digital communications. 

Having never left North America, the opportunity to travel to the United Kingdom to meet with Open Education Leaders to learn from there was a most exciting thing for me and nothing about my journey was disappointing, from the travel, the picturesque landscapes of the Scottish Highlands to the warmest of welcomes from the amazing teams at ALT, GO-GN and The Univeristy of the Highlands and Islands. 

I arrived a day early in Inverness and was greeted with unseasonable warmth and sunshine which was most welcomed. I spent some time exploring and was able to find my way around downtown Inverness and also made some time to fine-tune my presentation for the GO-GN workshop. I was a whirlwind of emotions as I had not presented in a face-to-face environment since late 2019 and it was now the spring of 2023. My stress could not have been more ill-placed as I soon realized this, my first face-to-face experience with the amazing GO-GN folks was an extremely welcoming and supportive environment. I welcomed the opportunity to present my dissertation research question and the theories that frame it as well as the challenges I perceive to exist in the existing literature. The jitters of talking in a room in front of people rather than in my office in front of my monitor and camera soon faded and I enjoyed wonderful feedback, advice and questions from a very supportive group of scholars, who are now my friends. 

The next two days of ALT’s OER 23 were an amazing smorgasbord of learning and sharing from many OER leaders, in particular, I thoroughly enjoyed tossing paper airplanes at  Dave Cormier during one of the plenary sessions while he helped us to grapple with the challenges of learning in a time of abundance. The conference was filled with amazing speakers and it was wonderful to participate in and be a part of a global community of educators with a common interest. Meeting so many people and having so many opportunities for discussions was absolutely wonderful during the conference and meals. 

The conference team from ALT and the GO-GN team also did an amazing job organizing social events beyond the workshop and conference, Pizza and Beer at Black Isle will certainly remain in my memories as a highlight of the experience, a chance to relax, mingle, meet and be reunited with friends from near and far was surely priceless. Karaoke on another night with Tom Farrelly, Jim Groom and others at Johnny Foxes will never be forgotten and is a wonderful welcoming memory and has quite fitting symbolism for all that is Open Education. Long live the GO-GN 23 WhatsApp group! 

I was fortunate post-conference to be able to spend a couple more days in Inverness and explore as far east as Nairn and as far West as Portree on Skye including visiting the mystical Loch Ness and the Fairy Pools. Before returning home to Canada, I was fortunate to spend another 5 days in London exploring and was able to visit Windsor Castle, Bath, Stonehenge and many other landmarks including a cruise on the Thames.  I satisfied my need for speed by visiting Silverstone Circuit where I watched a British Superbike race and participated in a supercar experience where I got to drive a McLaren 620, a Ferrari F430 and an Aston Martin Vantage around the famed circuit. After a few days of academics, I gladly put on my tourist cap and had taken in as much of the Inverness and London areas as I could. 

This peripheral exploration before and after the conference was wonderful and helped to cement in my mind memories of a great conference, wonderful people and an amazing experience. I am longing for OER 24 already!” 

Find out more about Lucas:

Photo credits: Lucas Johnson

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

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