Northern Relations Connecting Open/Technology, Education, Society, and Scholarship

Call for Proposals

The Open/Technology, Education, Scholarship and Society Association (OTESSA) is excited to announce the call for proposals for the conference held at the Canadian Congress of the Humanities and the Social Sciences between May 31-June 3, 2021, in collaboration with the University of Alberta. OTESSA welcomes thinkers, tinkerers and designers from across disciplines and contexts who are exploring the role of open and digital technologies in education, society, and scholarship to be part of this conference gathering. 

Congress 2021 Theme: 

Northern Relations: Connecting Open/Technology, Education, Society, and Scholarship 

As part of Congress 2021, OTESSA encourages researchers and practitioners to share their scholarship on the complexities that technology and open educational practice raise for education, society, and scholarship, as well as come together to build connections, collaborations, and critical conversations at this year’s conference. Scholars, practitioners, graduate and undergraduate students, librarians, designers, makers, educators from K12 or post-secondary, administrators, and policy-makers are all welcome! Whatever your current role and wherever you are located in the world, we invite you to join us and contribute your experience, expertise and insights to timely discussions about openness and technology in education, society and scholarship.  

The Northern Relations theme speaks to the diverse possibilities that can open up with new connections between peoples, communities, cultures, and ways of knowing. The Congress theme encourages delegates to examine the most pressing global matters of relation in the North (to the land, to each other, to new ideas), such as climate change, governance, social justice, reconciliation, reciprocity, education, and more.

The OTESSA Association invites a particular focus on the complexities that technology and open education practice raise for education, society, and scholarship and matters of relation. 

This year’s three key subthemes for inviting submissions and discussions are:

  • Online learning and teaching
    What can we learn from our rich history of distance and open education as we navigate our way forward in the context of the pandemic? In what ways can we build and extend upon existing research and education with technology to increase ethical, inclusive and diverse policies and practices?
  • Inclusive networks and ethical spaces
    Who is advantaged or disadvantaged by the human and technological infrastructures and processes we design? In what ways do we confront issues such as surveillance, privacy and security? What innovations and changes in assessment, OER, participatory pedagogies, collective and co-design of knowledge, inform, serve to enhance or limit the democratization of knowledge?
  • Knowledge Engagement and Relationality
    In what ways do we represent and provide access to diverse ways of knowing, different forms of expression, and broad concepts of authorship, credibility, and trustworthiness in our research and practice? In what ways do we create the conditions for meaningful, authentic and respectful learning relationships and engagements with technology?
  • Wildcard
    OTESSA also offers a wildcard category for innovative and inventive ideas that go beyond the three broad subthemes, as long as a relevant connection is made to Open/Technology. 

Session Formats

There will be multiple modes of presentation and participation available at OTESSA. 


Presentations are standalone talks that present research papers or critical reflections on practice (e.g. case studies, descriptive accounts). Typically we will cluster presentations into 3 per hour, aligning themes where possible.

Time: 20 minutes (typically 15-minute presentation, 5 minutes Q+A)
In your proposal, include: 

  • Abstract (max 200 words)
  • Proposal: (max 500 words)
  • Statement of Audience Engagement and Interaction: (max 200 words)

Panel Sessions

Panels are structured discussions between multiple speakers offering diverse perspectives or approaches on a common theme. Panels should include three or four speakers, inclusive of a moderator if desired. Proposals should outline the topic of the panel along with how each panelist will contribute a different perspective to foster an engaging and informative conversation.

Time: 50 minutes (at least 10 minutes should be reserved for audience Q&A)

  • Abstract (max 200 words)
  • Proposal: (max 500 words)
  • Statement of Audience Engagement and Interaction: (max 200 words)

Workshop Sessions

Workshops sessions may follow a number of different formats, and each will include a significant element of audience engagement and interaction. Proposals should outline the format and structure of the workshop and explain how the audience will be engaged. If there is high demand, we may need to restrict the number of workshop sessions for logistical purposes.

Time: 50 minutes

  • Abstract (max 200 words)
  • Proposal: (max 500 words)
  • Statement of Audience Engagement and Interaction: (max 200 words)


Alternative short formats are very welcome, e.g. demos, Pecha Kucha, spoken word, TED-style talk, multimodal presentations, performance, improvisation, screening a digital story, web content, etc. This format asks you to be creative, to share an idea in a way that speaks to heart and mind.
Time: 10 minutes 

  • Abstract (max 200 words)
  • Proposal: (up to 500 words)
  • Statement of Audience Engagement and Interaction: (max 200 words)

Showcase Gallery – Asynchronous

This category includes asynchronous, openly licensed content in any format, including video, audio, blog posts, surveys, reports, papers, posters, infographics, resources, etc. The content does not need to be created specifically for the conference, but proposals should clearly address how the content relates to the conference topics or theme. If accepted, presenters will be required to submit the proposed content prior to the conference along with a featured image. The Showcase Gallery will be available to browse throughout the event. Presenters and conference delegates will have opportunities to comment and engage in a forum. 

Time: Ongoing

  • Abstract (max 200 words)
  • Proposal: (up to 500 words)
  • Statement of Audience Engagement and Interaction: (max 200 words)

OpenTable – Synchronous

During the conference, there will also be three plenary OpenTable sessions aligned with the four (4) sub-themes (Online learning and teaching; Inclusive networks and ethical spaces; Knowledge Engagement and Relationality; Wildcard). These do not require a submission in advance, but will enable participants to sign up to contribute to focused discussions on core issues for their practice and for the field. 


Our primary focus in 2021 is on building connected and lively conversations and open sharing of scholarship and practice in Open/Technology, Education, Scholarship and Society. 

All presenters will be invited to submit manuscripts / presentations to a formal proceedings collection in Spring/Summer 2021, and to contribute to a pre-conference blog series showcase. Opportunities for authors to submit full-length papers for consideration for a special issue are also being explored. All written contributions will be optional.


  • January 11. 2021

    Submission Deadline

  • January-February 2021


  • February 2021

    Program Published

  • April 2021

    Asynchronous Content Deadline

  • May 31 - June 3, 2021


  • July 1, 2021

    (Optional) Short & Full Paper Deadline

Thank you for the work you all do to advance Open/Technology education, scholarship and practice. We are excited to gather with you to recognize your contributions to the field: please join us for OTESSA at Congress at the University of Alberta in Canada.  

Fondly, from the OTESSA community, as we open and grow!