OpenVA Under Construction

I just published this post announcing the second annual OpenVA conference that will be happening October 18th, 2014 at Tidewater Community College. This announcement will be followed shortly by an email from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to the provost (or academic equivalent) at every pulic higher education insitutiton in Virginia. That email will layout the reconsititution of this committee under the official banner of OpenVA, and frame this conference as the first step in building an infrastructure around open education in Virginia . This email will also be a call to these campuses to appoint representatives at Virginia’s various public colleges and universities to steer this newly imagined group.

It was pretty excited to hear that OpenVA got a second act, and it’s even cooler to think SCHEV intends to given this group credence, support, and a platform to operate from. But this also means we need to actually get down to brass tacks. Start building, if you will.

So when thinking about this year’s conference, we came up with a somewhat different approach. Rather than reproducing what we did last year, we decided to try and dedicate the time during the event to try and focus on what it is we want, and try and hash out how we can make it happen—hence the title “Building OpenVA.” It will be like a hackathon for pushing policy conversation towards action:

  • Open infrastructure
  • Open content/resource
  • Open pedagogy/curriculum

This event isn’t a conference, per se. It will be broken down into four sessions.  The first three will showcase open initiatives happening currently in Virginia that embody each of the three faces of  open listed above .  The final session will be a culmination of the discussions with the goal of charging participants and laying out a strategy for action at SCHEV, higher education institutions, and legislative bodies.

Each session will be 90 minutes long and formatted as a kind of call/response. The first half will be a presentation by a panel consisting of Virginia higher ed institutions and educators who are at the forefront of open innovations currently taking place in VA.  This will be followed by a directed panel discussion by a small group of stakeholders including representatives from faculty, IT, librarians, administration, and legislature.  The panel will discuss how the current initiatives might be scaled to move beyond their existing implementations and be adopted by a larger number of Virginia institutions.

It’s this call and response idea that I hope takes off. It reinforces the fact that Virginia’s colleges and universities are a distributed, but connected voice that needs to collaboratively frame the conversationcof our future. To that end, we’re asking that anyone from around the state contribute their example of an innoVAtion (forgive the cheesey camel case, I couldn’t resist) from any of Virginia’s public higher education institutions.

 ….there is an open call on the OpenVA website ( seeking examples of projects happening currently in Virginia’s colleges or universities that represent an innovative approach to opening up infrastructure (sharing technical resources, server space, applications, etc.), content (open educational resources, textbooks, media, etc.), and pedagogy (syllabi, innovative course practice, research, curriculum, etc). The organizing committee will use these examples to contact various presenters and create a schedule for the day that is rooted in what’s happening on the ground. The event will be about augmenting and amplifying the best of what’s already out there.

I’m pretty excited about this approch to the confernece, and all the credit goes to Andrew Feldstein and Steve Nodine who took time out of the Sloan-C Emerging Tech conference in Dallas this past April to hash this idea out in person. I should also add that as we go through a transition to the OpenVA incarnation, the committee has been pared down to a few highly motivated and dedicated people. And they make it very apparent that the vision of an open Virginia has taken hold and driving us all.

We’re running the conference at a different campus this year, thanks to the ever great Diane Ryan of Tidewater Community College, and that idea of a moveable, shared vision for which we share responsibility is why I know this group will be successful. But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, there is much more to do over the next four months. Sountil then save the date: Saturday, October 18th in Virginia Beach. This analyzing is paralyzing, let’s build the future of open education in Virginia we want to see!


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One Response to OpenVA Under Construction

  1. Debra Schleef says:

    This is a really great idea!

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