So the Day 2 sessions for the OpenEd 2007 conference in Logan just started, and in my typical lightening fast way I am just getting my thoughts together from Day 1.
For me, the first day of OpenEd was all about humility. The opening sessions by the Nepalese contingent opened my eyes to the challenges faced by educators in the developing world. Sure, on some intellectual level I already understood these, but to hear these folks talk and see their wonderful pictures made this so much more real for me, and helped me connect with it with my heart, and helped me to reframe the challenges I’ve been wrestling in their proper perspective. Previously I had approached discussions of open education as a basic human right with some skepticism, but by the end of the day instead I’d become convinced that it is a moral imperative.
What was also amazing to see was what seemed like a shift in the greater discourse to recognizing the critical importance of both local knowledge and community to open education initiatives. Christopher Hoadley from Penn State did a wonderful talk on a project running in four countries across the Himalayas that rejected a computer and network focused approach in favour of providing local children with video cameras to document (and create disalogue around) local knowledge, lore and issues. To see the resulting video and hear how it was fostering dialogue in these communities felt like a real experience of appropriate technology.
Other highlights include trying out COSL’s new 51weeks service, a new system they have developed with a view to extending the rich conversations that begin at face to face conferences to the other 51 weeks in the year when you are not there, and of course hanging with the dudez, experiencing the scorn of the waitress at what is apparently the only watering hole in town. I am very grateful to be here for all of these reasons and more. It just feels like the perspective correction I was needing. – SWL
P.S. if you’re interested, my brain dump notes for day 1 are available, and every session is being podcast and the presentations uploaded to the 51weeks site.