Local, regional and state events can provide great opportunities for faculty and staff but cannot replace the learning and networking that can take place at broader regional, national, or international events such as:
Giving those new to OER as well as experts a chance to learn about new trends and initiatives as well as establish working relationship with peers they would otherwise not meet can have longer-term benefits to local OER efforts.
Here are things to consider:
- Connect attending the conference with local initiatives. Consider offering to send faculty or staff to the conference as part of an awards or grant program. For example, you could run a “Teaching with OER” awards program and part of what the winner receives is conference attendance. Similarly, if you have a faculty grant program you could require or recommend that they submit their work as a presentation proposal and fund their travel if it is accepted.
- Plan in advance for how you want to participate. Submission deadlines are often 6-9 months prior to the conference, so plan in advance if you want to present – or support participation of your faculty and staff. Sessions that include multiple institutions and points of view often have greater appeal than than individual faculty presentations. This coordination may add extra prep time, but the collaboration and networking opportunities are worthwhile. Check out this play for more tips and examples of OER-related conference presentations.
- Be creative when it comes to travel budgets. Travel budgets are always tight so look for existing internal funding sources, such as professional development or even institutional marketing budgets, to help support conference attendance. It may also be possible to use grant funds related to OER projects to support travel, particularly if those attending will be presenting.
- Don’t sweat the details up front. It’s also best to not get too concerned about travel budgets and specifics of the presentation during the submission process. If your proposal is accepted it is often easier to get funding to travel. You can always change presenters, or if necessary, cancel the session if you have trouble getting funding for your conference participation.
- Connect before and after the conference. One of the greatest benefits of attending larger conferences is the opportunity to meet people face-to-face, even if you’ve only known them through email, Twitter, or online in the past. Consider reaching out ahead of the conference to set up informal times to meet up. Participate in conference networking events. Attend sessions and ask questions.
- Follow up. Identify specific next steps that you and others will engage in immediately following the conference. This helps ensure that the momentum and collaboration opportunities that start at a conference doesn’t disappear as soon as everyone goes home.