The 2021 Cascadia OpenEd Conference

Over the past three days I attended several sessions at the Cascadia OpenEd conference sponsored by several west coast associations and the wonderful and always inspiriting BCcampus team. I thought I’d share a couple of broad thoughts about the event and what I saw on the screen and felt as I watched.

Cascadia OpenEd conference

One thought that continuously came up was how visible some work is and how hidden other work can be in education. The use of Pressbooks or YouTube or Google Sites or any platform that allows for sharing of resources is in sharp contrast to the many courses I get to see in my work that wall off the curated resources (often openly available on the web) and the instructor created resources.

The other movement I saw through was the impact of the pandemic on all aspects of the work I am involved in and the many good people I work with. Be it caring better for our students and ourselves, or simply acknowledging the depth of the challenge we face, many speakers addressed the need for care. Particularly from leaders or people in positions of power.

Visible Work

“Open Educational Resources” is certainly not new, but it is wonderful to see how it has grown over the years. Too slowly, yes. But it has grown and so have the available tools. Pressbooks is one that is growing and it does provide this interesting “bookish” website that is comfortable to those who like hardback books like myself and those more interested in digital copies. And the collections are growing! I recall when OpenStax had about 12 books. That seemed remarkable and such an exciting change in availability, price, and use of the web.

image of search field for open textbooks website.

While some faculty have been creating their own books, or their students, as an institution UW is just getting our feel wet with Pressbooks. That is exciting! Similarly, I think that the UW Libraries look at hosting WordPress, while not really a Domain of One’s Own, is a step in a better direction for both faculty and students to create and share work. All progress. That is good.

The other element that I felt during the event was that focus on the notion of “care.” Care for ourselves. Care for others. Taking time to be more caring. Being given the time to care for others. And yourself. I realize that when you are on a big boat, the messages that are shouted from the pilot house can be hard to hear. Especially if they are in an email. More especially, if they feel like empty platitudes coming at you in mass cc emails.

Message of Care

Of course they care. I do not doubt that at all. But as has been the case in leadership these days of mass communication, there is a gulf between the author and the audience that just gets wider. At the very least, make sure the people under you are demonstrating that they are communicating a message of care.

One of the presentations I enjoyed was shared by Brenna Clarke Grey. Here is her presentation. Next time you give a conference presentation, I hope you take the time to create something like that for your readers/viewers. I am sure I’ll get the recording, but since this just happened yesterday, I don’t have that yet.

It is so strange to sit in the living room and listen to a conference presentation. I feel lucky to be able to do it, but I miss the hugs, motion, sounds, and tastes of the physical conference environment.

One Comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these insights, Todd! Thank you also for sharing Brenna Grey’s slides here. So many nuggets of good thinking in the presentation. I found her point about performative care versus systemic care particularly meaningful and relevant.

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