A view of the river Lee in the real irish capital - Cork

Conference Preview: OER24

One of the things I’m looking forward to this March is the Open Education “OER24” conference which takes place in Cork, Ireland. Now is a complex time for anyone working in open education, especially as “open” comes with implied themes and commitments with respect to ethics and inclusion. Historically, open researchers and practitioners have not always been great perhaps at including these kinds of themes and commitment in practice, but I see this year equity and inclusion is a key theme of the conference so this year could see a change, and while I have not yet seen the abstracts, a couple of titles already stand out.

Roisin Garvey’s session looking at “Students as key drivers of inclusion in higher education” should be really interesting. Putting students at the centre of change around inclusion is always going to appeal to me, because what’s the point if they are not involved, and I know that her institution is doing a lot around this space.

Also interesting, from the titles, and introducing the AI elephant in the room, are the delegation from Canada. “Just-in-time Social Justice Efforts: Using OER – and Sometimes AI – for Queer, Trans, and Gender Non-Conforming Campus Initiatives” from Bonnie Stewart and Ashlyne O’Neil suggests the use of Open Educational Resources and AI in promoting inclusivity and social justice in what is probably one of the more precarious student groups currently in higher education in more Western Countries. And also from Canada, Nick Baker is speaking on a similar theme: “The  Intersection of OERs, AI, and Equity”. As he is an institutional leader, I am hoping that Baker’s title points towards the convergence of OERs, AI, and the pursuit of equity in education and addresses policy and strategy. Perhaps it will indicate a focus on how AI can be used to enhance access to quality education through OERs, while also addressing the challenges and potential inequalities that might arise from the implementation of AI in education?

This is the first OER where the sector has had widespread access to AI tools, and this is reflected in some of the other sessions also:

Keith Smyth, John Smith, and Scott Connor imply a strategic shift in educational institutions towards incorporating GAI, perhaps suggesting a need for policy development and practice adjustments in their session “Recentering and Resituating an Institutional Approach to the Development of Open Educational Policy and Practice in the Context of Generative Artificial Intelligence”

Patricia Gibson introduces the challenge of misinformation amplified through GAI which is sure to become even bigger issue in higher education in her session, and it’s also good to see the wiki making a comeback here: “Defending Truth in an Age of AI Generated Misinformation: Using the Wiki as a Pedagogical Device”

And it will be great to catch up with Mary Loftus, who reinforces the need for solid higher education skills being developed in students to help them navigate and interpret a world full of AI generated content in her session: “Classroom Critical Thinking in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.”

I am also excited to see that Darragh Coakley is extending his excellent Gasta session from the EDEN conference into a workshop “The extended mythos of ChatGPT.” I expect fun and metaphor, and some challenging questions.

There is a packed programme to choose from – these are some of the sessions that I am keen on, but I would love to hear what sessions other people are looking forward to. And of course there is a fine social programme put on by our hosts Munster Technological University’s Gearóid Ó Súilleabháin and Tom Farrelly.

Come join the Craic in Cork! 

A view of the river Lee in the real irish capital - Cork
The River Lee running through capital Cork! Image courtesy of JumpingNun on pixabay https://pixabay.com/users/jumpingnun-1593615/