Weather Updates

Update as of 3/5/13: OpenVA will be rescheduled until Fall 2013 🙁

snow_animatedWe’ll be updating this post regularly with information regarding the weather and the possibility of cancellation due to inclement weather. As of now, the conference will only be cancelled if the University of Mary Washington is closed this Thursday—let’s hope for the best!

From Punk to Policy

For over a year now I’ve been part of the Digital Learning Resource working group (along with 15 other representatives from a range of public colleges and universities) run by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. I’ve already written about my excitement at witnessing this committee morph from a routinized exploration of e-textbooks to a much more relevant focus on the broader landscape of open, online learning. It’s been a wild ride, and I have been having a lot of fun all the while talking about some of the implications if public colleges and universities start sharing and collaborating on the work we are doing in this space.

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Registration closing in one week or 45 spots-whichever comes first!

Update: As of Thursday, February 21st at 5:00 PM registration is closed.

Update: As of today (Wednesday, February 20th at 1:20 PM) we are 10 spots away from closing down registration. At this rate registration will be closed this afternoon.

closing As of this evening we have 205 registrants for the conference and we have budgeted for 250. Doing the math you quickly realize we only have 45 spots left. Given this fact, we’ll be closing down registration on Friday, February 22nd, or as soon as we hit 250 registrants—whichever comes first. The conference is free, and the day promises to be inspiring (you can see a draft of the schedule here) so be sure to register now before it’s too late.

Image credit Connemarathon 2013

Draft Schedule Now Available

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Image Credit: “1958 Primetime Schedule” by Brykmantra

With less than three weeks to go the conference is actually starting to come together, a fact which has surprised more than a few of us 😉 We have posted a draft of the conference schedule that breaks down the events of the day that has most, but not yet all, of the sessions listed with times, presenters, and room assignments. The morning will be split between a series of carnival showcases featuring work happening at colleges and universities around the state. At the same time, there will be a series of featured talks in breakout rooms that will be exploring an idea around digital learning resources in a Ted-talk like format.

The afternoon will feature numerous presentations, panels, and a culminating session that will reflect on the day and look towards the future along the lines of collaborative possibilities, funding, and statewide policy.

To see the draft schedule take the hyper jump here.

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Deadline for Submitting Proposals Extended

For Image credit click above.

The deadline for submitting proposals for “Virginia¹s First Annual Open and Digital Learning Resources Conference” has been extended from November 30th to January 18, 2013. This extension was recommended by the conference planning group so as to enable presenters to avoid having end of semester and/or holiday season commitments impede the preparation of proposals.

Virginia’s Open Digital Resources Conference

Image credit: “Virginia is for Lovers” by Mandipidy (click image for source)

Last Thursday we (the Open & Digital Learning Resources Conference Committee) had another meeting at UMW to prepare for the upcoming statewide conference on Open & Digital Learning Resources to be held at Mary Washington in March. There’s a lot of energy and excitement in this planning group, what’s more the conversations continually rise to a level of thoughtful nuance around the larger questions impacting public education at our moment. That fact makes these get togethers a real pleasure to take part in, something I don’t say freely about committees as a rule. I really enjoy how the group has become intent on making sure this conference provides the framework that will help Virginia’s educational institutions start sharing expertise and resources more effectively—a simple but powerful idea that is really exciting for me.

One of the shortcomings of the endeavor thus far has been the absence of K12 in these discussions. As Tom Woodward noted, this is an egregious oversight that I’m glad we started to attend to in last week’s meeting. It’s extremely important that we don’t continue to pretend that K12 and higher education can act as independent, distinct agents given how much the two rely upon one another for a well educated public. The dialogue between the two should be ongoing from the beginning, and we’re going to do everything possible to make sure of that.

Finally, after the jump below you’ll find the full text of the Call for Proposals—-a document I’m proud to have been a part of. (Please let me know in the comments below if you find it confusing.) Now all we need is the great professors, teachers, administrators, and edtech folk from around Virginia to start submitting proposals as soon as possible. The deadline for proposals is November 30th, so get on it doggoneit.

Download a PDF version of the RFP here.

Virginia’s First Annual Open and Digital Learning Resources Conference


The Office of Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, and Virginia Community College System invite submissions to its inaugural Open and Digital Learning Resources Conference to be held at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia on March 7th, 2013.

This is a watershed moment for open and digital learning resources, with a number of well-publicized initiatives bringing new energy and attention to this topic. In May 2012, Harvard and MIT announced a partnership to create EdX and host free courses to anyone, anywhere. In July 2012 the online course platform Coursera announced it had established new partnerships with 12 universities to offer free online courses. The State Board of Career and Technical Colleges in Washington state is offering open access to 81 of its most highly-enrolled courses through the Open Course Library. And OpenStax College, a project out of Rice University, has released the first of a series of free, open textbooks for core college courses like Physics and Biology.

Clearly, open and digital learning resources have the potential to have a significant and perhaps lasting impact on our educational institutions, and it is vitally important to begin to build an understanding of the challenges and opportunities they offer for teaching and learning across the Commonwealth.

The Open and Digital Learning Resources Conference will bring together teams of higher education stakeholders from across Virginia to collectively investigate the exciting topic of open and digital learning resources (ODLR) in education. ODLRs are a fairly broad categorization of educational technologies and practices that include the use and integration of in-class and online digital media, hardware, and software, a variety of openly licensed and freely available open educational resources (open textbooks, open courses, open content, etc.), augmented reality, and other tools used to deliver or enhance instruction in postsecondary settings. The conference organizers are particularly interested in examining ways these resources can be created and shared effectively and efficiently among college campuses across the Commonwealth in order to build a shared repository of openly licensed content.

This conference will tap into the a wide-range of expertise, innovation, and transformative ideas from across the Commonwealth of Virginia not only to showcase current ODLR projects and practices, but also actively link higher educational institutions together in order to develop and support a vibrant community of practice around the use of ODLR. This conference is an exciting opportunity to systematically explore how digital learning resources and networked educational experiences can lower costs, create new collaborative partnerships, and positively impact student outcomes, as well as establish a community of postsecondary institutions interested in continuing to explore this issue.


The scope of this conference includes, but is not limited to, the following topics as they relate to open and digital learning resources:

  • strategies to reduce costs of instructional materials
  • open policies, including open government, open assessment, and open data
  • flipping the classroom
  • alternate & augmented reality
  • serious games/gamification
  • team-based, collaborative, or cooperative online learning
  • mobile learning
  • open educational resources, including open textbooks, open content, open courses (MOOCs), and open teaching


Institutions are encouraged to submit multiple proposals that meet the criteria of this RFP. Proposal submissions can be in two distinct categories, outlined below:

  1. Digital Carnival Showcase
  2. Presentation format, including:
    1. formal presentation
    2. panel discussion
    3. interview
    4. debate

The Digital Carnival Showcase

Why a carnival? Because a carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining elements of a circus, mask, and public street party. In other words, we want this part of the conference to be fun and engaging!

The ODLR Conference Committee invites submissions to the Digital Carnival Showcase to demonstrate and promote innovative technology projects happening at colleges and universities across Virginia. This is not a poster session; rather it is intended to be a fun, loud, colorful, and interactive morning session in which students, faculty, and administrators can engage participants in digital demonstrations of projects happening on their respective campuses. The “big top” of the Digital Carnival Showcase will be a large, open space that encourages interaction and the co-mingling of ideas across institutions in order to get a broader sense of the vast landscape of innovation and technology happening in higher education in Virginia.

For these proposals we encourage interactive “booths” where a team of presenters, like carnival barkers, demonstrates their innovative digital work to curious conference participants. These demonstrations can focus on faculty, student, and/or administrative innovations around digital learning resources, and can be as specific as localized classroom experiments or as broad as curricular innovations. Some examples: course sites, open textbooks, 3D Printing, e-books, internet radio, streaming video, campus-wide blogging, wikis, etc.. Ideally, submitted projects should be able to be effectively demonstrated and discussed in a physical space.


The Call for Presentations invites individual or group submissions. As part of your submission please describe the format you plan to use for your paper (presentation, panel, interview, debate). Creative formats that actively engage the audience are encouraged. Specify whether you prefer a time slot of 20 minute or 45 minute duration. Identify which conference topic your paper fits with (see list above)

Go to to submit a proposal. The deadline for submissions is November 30th, 2012.

Who Will Be Attending?

The ODLR Conference Committee invites six member teams from each public two- and four-year institution in the Commonwealth to attend this conference. It is recommended these teams include a college or university president (or other senior administrative leader), a fiscal officer, a library representative, an instructional designer or technologist, and two faculty members.

Postsecondary faculty throughout Virginia are doing some amazing work with digital learning resources. The goal of this conference is to feature this work as well as create a network of postsecondary administrators, staff, and faculty interested in building an educational culture around open and digital learning resources. ODLR 2013 is your opportunity to share and promote the innovative work happening at your college or university and introduce it into Virginia’s public education learning ecosystem.


The Open and Digital Learning Resources Conference is an initiative of the Office of Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the Virginia Community College System, and the following partner institutions:

  • Christopher Newport University
  • College of William & Mary
  • George Mason University
  • James Madison University
  • Old Dominion University
  • Radford University
  • Tidewater Community College
  • University of Mary Washington
  • University of Virginia
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Virginia Military Institute
  • Virginia State University
  • Virginia Tech


OpenVa: Open & Digital Learning Resources Conference

On March 7th, 2013 UMW will be hosting Virginia’s inaugural Open and Digital Learning Resources Conference. The theme for this year’s conference is OpenVA which will explore how Virginia’s public institutions of higher ed are confronting the possibilities and challenges of open educational experiences and resources.

What’s particularly cool about this conference is
that it’s a state-driven initiative to bring constituents from all of Virginia’s public colleges and universities into a day-long dialogue about digital resources that will hopefully evolve into cross-institutional, collaborative projects statewide. Richard Sebastian, one of the many architects of the conference, notes as much in his post announcing the vent:

….finding a statewide solution to rising textbook costs was the original focus of this effort, the planning committee concluded that limiting this conference to such a narrow topic would be a missed opportunity….the hope is that an eventual outcome of the conference will be to create or identify statewide mechanisms that can support [open digital learning resources] in higher ed.

The move from solving textbook costs to re-thinking how we define and share digital resource more broadly across Virginia’s public higher ed institutions is crucial in my mind. It’s the perfect opportunity to forge new, cross-campus relationships, share resources, and build a framework of connections across institutions to start augmenting all the innovation happening in isolation around the state. I’m excited at the potential of this conference and I’ll be blogging its development on the bava as well as on the openva blog regularly for the next few months.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge our debt to the Open Education conference in imagining this conference. In fact, we modelled the OpenVa call for proposals on theirs almost verbatim :)

Also, the conference is free and open to the public, in keeping with the theme. So, feel free to register here and find out what’s good in Virginia’s edtech world. Or, if you are part of a VA public institution and you have something you want to share then be sure to submit a proposal before November 30th, 2012.

Hello Virginia!

Welcome to site for Virginia’s inaugural Open and Digital Learning Resources Conference that will be held on March 7th, 2013 at the University of Mary Washington. The broad theme for this year’s conference is OpenVA, and encourages all state institutions of higher ed in Virginia to confront the possibilities and challenges of open education experiences and resources.

The Open and Digital Learning Resources Conference is an initiative of the Office of Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the Virginia Community College System, and a list of partner institutions you can find here.

This space will be updated regularly with conference news. In the short term, we will be opening up both registration and allowing for the online submission of proposals <

is now available on this site. as of October 4th. So stay tuned!