On behalf of a diverse group, I would like to announce that Open/Technology in Education, Society, and Scholarship (OTESSA) was founded as a non-profit on June 20, 2019. Our hope in founding this community is to connect those concerned with how education, society, and scholarship are being transformed, or can be transformed, through the use of digital, networked, and open technologies.
In Canada, we are leading with new research, theory, policy, and practice that is amplified by significant federal, provincial, and non-profit support. Our faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, scholars, librarians, practitioners, designers, educators from K12 or post-secondary, administrators, and policy-makers all have a passion for exploring innovations afforded by open and technology. We also have incredible technology start-up companies and non-profits, that work hard to create new options for how we do things, and amazing technology support personnel, that push the boundaries well beyond the status quo.
We have, however, missed opportunities by not coming together nationally, while engaging our international partners in all we do. That changes now — because now we are asking you to join us in creating a new community and conference that brings us together around our many intersecting passions, while enabling a future made richer through our diversity. We hope to address the following needs:
- More researcher-leadership-practitioner networking. We want a national conference that brings together the instructional designers, librarians, educators in K-12, administrators, policy-makers, the IT community, and all of those who actively support innovation and evaluation in teaching and learning or scholarship with digital, networked, or open technologies, alongside those faculty, researchers, and graduate students who are engaged in formal academic research projects.
- Open requires more emphasis. ‘Open’ does not get enough recognition or emphasis in Canadian associations or conference settings and yet Canadians have provided significant international leadership in this area. Open initiatives are now getting recognition by our federal government and research funding bodies; however, more needs to be done to support practice. Closed publishing models and some corporate solutions are limiting innovation in both K-12 and higher education. We need to come together to support more free inquiry in K12 schools and post-secondary. We need to support each other in creating more open content – and to get more open content, we need to create more opportunities for open publishing. All of these areas of study are not disconnected, but interwoven. We need to bring these communities together to embrace and realize *all* the benefits of open: OER, open publishing, open scholarship, open source software, open textbooks, open educational practices, open pedagogy, open science, open data, … everything open under one big tent!
- Cross-pollinating digital and networked learning with open practices. Networked learning and technology integration topics have significant overlap with the open community, but many conferences focus on educational technology with no open presence. We need to cross-pollinate digital and networked practices with open practices and support those exploring shifts to technology-integration to learn more and go further into open if and when appropriate. Open should not be separate. This association and conference is not open-exclusive, but the open community will have a home here and a better opportunity to meaningfully connect with several thousand academics, professionals, and other stakeholders from across the broader Congress community.
- Some communities that have no home can create them here. For example, there is no presence in Canada to connect the learning analytics community. The door is open for any groups not currently fed within existing structures to come and create them here.
- Interdisciplinary Connections. We value interdisciplinary collaboration, but we often move in different disciplinary circles. We hope OTESSA can change that! We welcome those exploring the impact of technology and/or open practices on society from computer science, health sciences, psychology, gender studies, law, etc. The term “society” in our association name is there for you!
- Benefits of Congress. Along this journey of self-discovery, we decided to create a home within Congress. Congress is an established meta-conference with approximately 8,000 attendees from 70 different associations. To see all the various associations with conferences at Congress, visit: https://www.congress2019.ca/associations. Furthermore, Congress is linked with upward communication to the Government of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), which could in turn support our fields further.
By creating a new association at the top level, we *can* create the diverse community and the conference that we want to build. We need, more than ever, to bring our perspectives together for the benefit of interdisciplinary research and collaboration, for the benefit of community-based research, for the benefit of building a community of practice. There are major shifts happening – in K12 education, in post-secondary education, in workplace learning, in society, in scholarship – due to digital, networked, and open technologies and we can provide leadership collectively in navigating these shifts.
Board and Members
Our founding board members will represent the community we hope to serve: faculty, researchers, students, scholars, K12 and university educators, educational developers, librarians, administrators, and other distinguished professionals and stakeholders with rich and diverse expertise. We will have individual members and association members. Our first association members include BCcampus, eCampusOntario, and LEARN Quebec and we look forward to adding more association members and sponsors.
Executive Advisors to the Board
We also hope to be international in scope with executive advisors to the board drawing not only from Canada (thank you David Porter and Mary Burgess!), but internationally. We are still in the early days, but we hope to invite executive advisors to the board from all parts of the globe (Thank you to Martin Weller for agreeing to be an early advisor from the UK!). We hope to establish ourselves as an international conference with a diverse community and board.
Growing Our Community
In this first year, we simply wish to meet and gather to co-design our next steps, our first special interest groups (SIGs), and where we wish to go as part of a 3-year plan. We have various committees forming at this time, including a Graduate Network, a Conference Committee (we will need reviewers shortly), Community Committee, Partnerships and Fundraising Committee, and more!
If you are an international individual or organization that could help to provide networking and leadership as an executive advisor to the board, if you are an association that would like to become a member, or if you are an individual who would like to volunteer on one of our committees, our board, or at the conference, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are committed to creating a diverse team, so we encourage women, LGBTQIA, visible minorities, Indigenous people, and people with disabilities to reach out. While our language of operation is English, as we develop resources and processes, we hope to ensure our work is translated into French and other languages. If you can help out with translation, please reach out to us.
Thank you for taking the time to read my words and to consider how you might be able to join and shape our community. It is a very exciting time and we look forward to meeting you soon at the inaugural #otessa20 conference at the University of Western in London, Ontario, Canada in early June! We are thrilled to have the support of our board members in making OTESSA happen. Watch this space for our Call for Proposals announcement and please submit a proposal to join us!
Valerie Irvine, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Technology Integration and Evaluation Research Lab
Educational Technology Area Advisor
University of Victoria