Guest Post: “OER19 and beyond: portals to participation” by Frances Bell and Leo Havemann

Image Credit: Portal by Kenneth Berger https://www.flickr.com/photos/kestelnon/4645579722 CC-BY-NC-SA

In this post, we explore how conference delegates and virtual participants can get the best experience of – and contribute to – the packed OER19 programme with 6 parallel streams, 2 keynotes, a keynote panel and a closing plenary. What participants do and how they engage with and contribute to the resources and technologies around OER19 creates a portal to participation in the conference by delegates in Galway and other participants across the world.

OER19 delegates will also be meeting contacts old and new in refreshment breaks, over meals and at social events in Galway and in similar chance encounters on Twitter and other social media. The Association for Learning Technology has an impressive track record in organising conferences and other events to maximise the participant experience before, during and after the conference, through the conference website, the ALT YouTube channel ( here are the recorded sessions for OER18) and other services such as the Backchannel.

As well as those who are attending, presenting, chairing and socialising at the conference, we also want to highlight the ways in which OER19 is open (see what we did there) to those who can’t be there in person.

For members of any of these groups, it’s worth dedicating some time to explore the conference website (maybe starting with this handy guide).

In the News section, there is a growing collection of blog posts all interesting and useful in different ways. Taskeen Adam, Maha Bali, Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams and Tannis Morgan offer a rich preparatory piece for onsite and virtual participants in their session.

If you won’t be onsite, you may join virtually via Zoom.

Lisa O’Neill shares her plans for making the most of OER19, finishing her post with the excellent advice

Please share a session from your draft schedule, where the speakers are new to you, and why you are excited to attend

In their OER19 post, Lorna Campbell and Frances Bell introduce the Open Space session they are presenting with Sheila McNeill and Maren Deepwell. They pose 6 questions that you can start answering before the OER19 session, in the Open Space provided at http://femedtech.net

Three first-time attendees at an OER conference, Leigh Graves-Wolf, Kate Miller and Kate Molloy, talk about their work and OER19 presentations.

Helen Crump builds on Lisa’s work, and suggests that

ahead of the conference people could find out a little bit about the work of others, someone that they’re not familiar with, and introduce them as a form of ‘community-enquiry’.

All of this excellent work has been done with access only to session titles and authors. Now that the full programme with links to session spaces and abstracts is available, we can do so much more. Remote and present attendees should note that all sessions in the Lecture Theatre will be live-streamed (with YouTube links in the relevant session space on the programme, for example: https://oer19.oerconf.org/sessions/welcome-from-the-co-chairs-and-keynote-by-kate-bowles/ and available later on the ALT YouTube Channel as an OER19 playlist.

In planning what you attend in Galway, you could decide not to attend a session that will be recorded, freeing you up to attend one of the other 5 streams. Also, sessions vary in length from 7 to 60 minutes. By limiting the number of 60-minute sessions you attend and having a balance of session types you can see a broader range of work at OER19.

Presenters can amplify their own session by engaging at the space provided for their session (here’s an example of a session space with abstract), uploading their presentations with any audio/video recorded, speaker’s notes or any other relevant resources. For each presentation/keynote she gives, Catherine Cronin creates an event page as a Google Doc that she shares as a bit.ly, for example, http://bit.ly/cltauc-cronin.

Session chairs, who will have read the session proposals, could tweet or blog retrospectively with their insights on the sessions.

The website offers Guidance on Remote Participation. Virtually Connecting connect onsite conference presenters and attendees with virtual participants in small groups and there will be 4 VC sessions at OER19. This is a good way for virtual participants to find out about the conference and delegates will also be tweeting and blogging the conference. Virtual participants will be welcome to join in with these social media conversations. @OERConf will be tweeting throughout the conference and the hashtag to follow is #OER19.  In previous years delegates have written reflective posts about their conference experiences and in OER18, and these blog posts were rounded up at the website. Watch out for a similar initiative at OER19.

In this post we, Frances Bell and Leo Havemann, have aimed to build on other OER19 guest blog posts and good practices elsewhere to identify ways in which delegates, session chairs, presenters and virtual participants can experience and support each other’s experience of OER19. Experiences and their traces online will emerge from all of our practices and the technology and resources we create and use.