A little over a week ago the Open Education Global Conference 2018 was finished. More than a year we have been preparing for this conference. The conference was a blast: everything went according to plan or better!
Goals for the conference
When we started the preparation for this conference we set a couple of goals we wanted to reach. Basically organise the best OEGlobal ever:
- Attract a bigger and global audience.
- Get keynote speakers that inspire and can deliver a keynote
- Create an interesting conference programme
- Logistically organise a smooth conference
- Attract more sponsors/partners to the conference
- Have an impact at TU Delft and in the Netherlands.
To organise a conference and reach the goals set you need to have a great team:
- Robert Schuwer as programme chair
- Martijn Ouwehand as my left and right hand (Mr. Everthing)
- TU Delft events team. I organised the edx conference with them in 2014 and knew they could deliver the quality we aimed for.
- We hired Thierry Trampe to reach out to sponsors. He has done this for many Dutch educational conferences.
- And off course the great staff of OEC.
We couldn't have pulled this off without the support of our students, catering and technical staff that helped during the conference.
We wanted at least 250 participants, but our real aim was at least 350. In the end we had 383 participants from 45 countries. This is the largest OEGlobal ever! 70% of the participants were first time attendees of the conference.
When you start thinking about the theme of the conference and the keynotes, you will make a list of possible speakers. Important for us was that each speaker could deliver a keynote for a big conference.
All the keynote speakers we contacted said yes!
After the formal opening of the conference with a speech of Ingrid van Engelshoven, the Dutch minister of education, and the rector magnificus of our university Tim van der Hagen, Vincent Zimmer was the first keynote speaker. With his personal and inspiring keynote about open education for refugees he inmediately set the tone for the conference.
On the second day Erin McKiernan delivered a great keynote how see connects open data, open education, open access and open science. What made this keynote stand out was that she is a faculty member who does this with limited resources in a very large university in Mexico.
The third day had a Dutch/orange theme and the keynote of Annemies Broekgaarden fitted in perfectly with how the Rijksmuseum opened up their collection and setup their education activities. She delivered this with great video and photo materials. As a change we closed the conference with a keynote. OEC Board member Peter Smith had the difficult task to close the conference with his keynote about free-range learning in the digital age.
All the recordings of the keynotes are avalable on the conference website.
It started with the call for proposals. We received 223 proposals, which all had to be reviewed by 2 members of the review committee. 179 proposals got accepted. In the end, 160 proposals were presented as presentation, panel discussion, action lab or poster during the conference. Only one presentation was canceled during the conference.
In preparation for the participants we published a book of abstracts and all the papers in the TU Delft open access repository: doi.org/10.4233/uuid:559c4fa0-60e6-4e1a-8540-37f59afa7745
One of the things we paid special attention to was that there were also introduction session to open education. Many participants were relatively new to the world of open education and appreciated these sessions. From many participants I received the feedback that they attended many interesting sessions.
TU Delft has an events office with professional conference organisers. They do this all year round and a very good in their job. The last year I have been paying special attention to all the conferences I attended and selected the best parts of other conferences to include in OEGlobal. I pushed our team to do an extra step and they did that with our suppliers, such as the catering. It was the team work of Ginny, Natascha and Marie Louise that made this the best conference.
The last couple of OEGlobal conferences we only had one or two sponsors. This year I wanted to attract more sponsors not only for this conference, but hopefully for a sustainable partnership with the consortium. We hired Thierry to do this, because he already had the contacts with many sponsors. We introduced a conference stands in the foyer. This not only made the foyer, where all the catering was more attractive, but also let to interesting conversations between sponsors and participants. Many sponsors have indicated that they want to continue to be involved with OEC and OEGlobal.
On one side we wanted to showcase TU Delft projects, but on the other side we wanted that TU Delft faculty and staff learned from all these experts in the field of open education. 19 TU Delft presentations were on the programme. In total 39 TU Delft participants joined the conference, among them many faculty members. They will share their experience with their colleagues and that is important for the adoption of open education at my university. One session attracted lots of attention: the open sketching activities of Mark van Huystee. The result is visible on the website.
There were also 130 Dutch participants (including TU Delft) from more than 30 institutes and organisation. I already received many responses that this conference helps them to start open education initiatives in their organisation. The speech of our minister of education did also help to set the priority.
On May 25th we are organising a special event for Dutch education to look back at the conference and to take the next step.
Looking back at the conference, I can conclude that we achieved the goals we have set and even outperformed them. From all over the world we received compliments for the conference, even from some who only followed the conference via twitter. Organising a conference is a lot of work, but very gratifying if everything works out!
I hope that this conference will have inspired many around the world to engage with open education. And don't forget to join the Open Education Consortium!
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