After flying for approximately 14 hours, I finally made it to Kraków, Poland on April 8 for the GO-GN Seminar and the OE Global Conference 2016. As soon as I arrived at the hotel my fellow GO-GN colleagues, who were already there, began twittering for us to meet up and explore the city before Sunday, the day the GO-GN Seminar was scheduled to begin. It was indeed a promising and very welcoming beginning to this adventure. 🙂 So after a good night of much needed sleep (well it was not such a good night due to the jet lag 😉 ) on Saturday I met Jamison from the USA, Chrissi from the UK and Bernard from Rwanda (an awesome, loving, warm and culturally diverse group of individuals). The four happy troopers set out to explore the city in the pm. It was a very cold and rainy day for this Brazilian from the tropics but as the company was excellent I didn’t want to seem like a bad sport so I trekked along dragging my newly bought umbrella with me. After seeing some cool sites we stumbled across an amazing Polish restaurant where we had a lovely meal. We quickly bonded and at the end of the day I felt like we had been friends for a long time. Here are two photos of our first day together.
The GO-GN Seminar – Day 1 of the GO-GN Seminar started with introductions and it was very exciting to finally meet the heads of the GO-GN and other members face-to-face. After introductions, Bea de los Arcos, the lovely and brilliant GO-GN Academic Coordinator, gave us a presentation, which was followed by a discussion, on being an open researcher. Subsequently, Martin Weller (acclaimed author of the “Battle for Open”) gave us an overview of the GO-GN Network and I discovered that I am the only member from South America, which made me feel extremely flattered and lucky for being a unique individual in this network. I guess other academics and researchers from SA will be pretty jealous once they find out! Rob Farrow, the intriguing and instigating philosopher, presented the new GO-GN site to us that is a definitely a great improvement from the former site. After lunch, I presented my study for the first time to a real live audience. I really thought I was going to be much more nervous than I was but thanks to a really supportive group I felt quite calm as I was delivering my presentation (in hindsight most probably due to the jet lag). The same was not to happen at the OE Global Conference but more on that later. I received excellent feedback and high-quality criticism on my presentation from the heads of the GO-GN network and other members, which helped me rethink and refine my presentation later on. Fred Mulder, UNESCO Chair in OER Netherlands, also gave me some great presentation tips during the coffee break. My deep appreciation and gratitude to all! I also learned tremendously from Chrissi’s, Paco’s, and Zhu Jin’s presentations. They all delivered a wide variety of extremely invaluable presentations on studies that will most certainly contribute to the field of open education.
Day 2 of the GO -GN Seminar started off with more presentations delivered by fellow GO-GN members: Sujata, Glenda, Bernard, Nicolai, and Jamison. All presentations were brilliant and inspiring and the researchers made use of a wide array of mixed methods and qualitative research method approaches to research OER and OE. These 2 days of seminar were indeed a fantastic learning experience. I learned about being an open researcher, about phenomenography, about the Chinese understanding of what openness means, about TPD in India, about the use of DBR to explore sustainable governance for OE in healthcare, and how to give a good presentation, just to cite a few. It was an intensive and really rich exchange of culture, information and knowledge. The GO-GN Seminar was wrapped up with some very fun activities: group activities, one-to-one with the heads of the GO-GN and individual group recordings. Our 2nd day ended with a classy dinner at a Polish restaurant. My thanks also goes to Robert Schuwer, Nat, and Beck for making this a memorable 2-day seminar!
In the end- @The OE Global Conference 2016
I have reached the conclusion that to attend any conference you need to have some kind of super power that tele transports you from one very interesting presentation to another or that makes it possible for you to attend two or more presentations simultaneously. There were so many interesting topics being presented and unfortunately I was only able to attend a handful of them. There were participants from all over the globe, including some Brazilians. I managed to attend varied sessions, most of which focused on OEPs, open data and OER, OER research in action, OER quality debates, open education, and action labs focused on OER policy, OER research agenda and The “Mind” Journey, to name a few. There were many others that I wish I could have attended. I met a lot of very interesting people who work in this field and made some friends in the process. This was my first time ever at an OE Global Conference and I was amazed at how ‘open’, in the literal sense of the word, warm and kind all participants were. Most educators at this conference have been on the road to ‘open’ for a long time. I am a newcomer in this field and as such I felt extremely welcome by all these acknowledged and reputable scholars. My 3 day journey into the world of OE underscored the fact that I am where I belong and that I am doing what I should be doing. I have attended many conferences throughout the years but have never felt such empathy, support and connection.
Now for the part you are all waiting for. How did my presentation go? I admit that I was extra large size nervous during my presentation. I guess by then the jet lag had somehow left my body. Well, that may be just an excuse. However, it was pretty nerve-wracking. First and foremost, Andreia Inamorato, who is author of Open educational resources in Brazil: State-of-the-art, challenges and prospects for development and innovation and whose work greatly inspired my thesis, was kind enough to attend my presentation. Furthermore, after having attended some brilliant presentations, I felt that mine was just a rough draft of a work much in its very early stages of progress. All in all, I managed to somehow successfully deliver my presentation and did receive one or two compliments. Hopefully, by this time next year I will have more interesting things to report and will have acquired better presentation skills.
Finally, the journey goes on. On May 19th I will be doing the oral defence of my thesis. Please pray for me. As soon as that is over, I will apply to the AU’s Research Ethics Board and hopefully in August my research study will commence. In this tale of the GO-GN Seminar and OE Global Conference 2016 it was only the best of times. My thanks to the GO-GN OER network for making this rich collaborative cross-cultural learning experience possible. I am very much looking forward to South Africa next year and will keep you all updated on my research findings and progress. Last but not least, my special thanks to Chrissi for getting double-badged! 🙂