Category Archives: openva

OpenVA 2.1 Agenda

At long last we have firmed up the agenda for OpenVA 2.1! Landing at William & Mary this coming Saturday, the event is packed with a diverse set of disciplinary and institutional perspectives. As any updates (such as presentation titles) and amendments come up, I will update them here. I will also be emailing those registered with detailed directions and possible venues for follow up discussion. At this point we are nearly fully booked, but have room for a few more attendees before we lock it down. So if you’ve been putting off registration, now’s the time! If we fill up before you can register, or if you just couldn’t fit in the trip, we will be live streaming and recording the event for future reference. The link will be posted here on

OpenVA 2.1 | May 2, 2015 | The College of William and Mary

10:00 – 10:30 | Coffee, sign-in, getting settled

10:30 – 10:40 | Welcome
Introduction: Diane Ryan, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies (TCC)

  • Michele Jackson, Associate Provost for University ELearning Initiatives (W&M)

10:40 – 11:30 | Session 1: Intro to OER
Moderator: Richard Sebastian, Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies (VCCS)

11:30 – 11:40 | Break

11:40 – 12:25 | Keynote and lunch
Introduction: Gene Roche, Executive Professor of Higher Education (W&M)

  • Gardner Campbell, Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success, Dean of University College, and Associate Professor of English (VCU)
    The Grand Narrative of a Way of Life in an Open Integrated Domain

12:25 – 12:30 | Break

12:30 – 1:45 | Session 2: Exemplary Practice
Moderator: Jim Groom, Director of the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies (UMW)

  • Jennifer Kidd, Senior Lecturer of Teaching and Learning (ODU)
    Create your own OERS: Student-Generated Text(book)s
  • Andrea Livi Smith, Chair/Associate Professor of Historic Preservation (UMW)
    System D
  • Tom Geary, Assistant Professor of English (TCC)
  • Sue Fernsebner, Associate Professor of History (UMW)
    Rebel Kingdoms, OERs, and Student Authorship

Closing: Beverly Covington, Policy Analyst for Academic Affairs and Planning (SCHEV) and Diane Ryan (TCC)


OpenVA 2.1: May 2nd, 2015

This spring we are following through with the promise made at the 2014 conference to hold smaller, more focused campus workshops. Our focus will be open educational resources (OER) that were the topic of one of the sessions at the summit. The intent is to raise OER awareness both at the College of William & Mary and regionally while also continuing the fruitful dialogue from last October. Read on for more details and be sure to register before we cap out at 80 50 registrants. Registration is free, and lunch is on us!


Come in

Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY 2.0

We’re back, with a workshop!

This spring we are holding the first in what we hope will be a long series of campus based workshops  that will supplement the Annual OpenVA conferences, but we have decided to change up the format a bit. The first two conferences brought together students, educators, learning technology specialists and administrators to share innovative practices using OER. Since that time, the planning committee has remained engaged enthusiastic about furthering the work in this area.

We’re taking the OER conversation to The College of William and Mary on Saturday, May 2nd. The event is free and open to all, and will focus on practices from around the state involving OER. We will be sharing ideas about what constitutes OER, how to find them, how to vet them, and how to use them. Stories will be shared from the trenches of implementation–successes and failures–and there will be space for participants to bring their own questions and insights.

Some event presenters will be invited by the planning committee based on its prior knowledge of their work and its relevance to the topics.  However, there is also an open call on the website for submissions so that the committee can learn about other examples and incorporate them into a robust schedule for the roughly 3-hour event.

Gardner Campbell - photo by darcyWe’re thrilled to have Gardner Campbell visit us from VCU as our keynote speaker. Gardner  is Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success, Dean of University College, and Associate Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has been involved in teaching and learning technologies for over two decades, including work at the University of San Diego and the University of Richmond. He has presented at numerous national and international conferences on Renaissance literature, film, and teaching and learning technologies. You can read Gardner’s blog, “Gardner Writes,” at, where you can also download his most recent CV.

Fernsebner PicWe’re also excited to be hearing from Sue Fernsebner, Associate Professor of History at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is the founding co-chair of the Digital Scholars Institute at UMW, a program dedicated to supporting university faculty in their development of digital projects in pedagogy and research. Susan has shared her work in the digital realm in numerous forums since 2007 including presentations at national and international conferences for the American Historical Association and the Association of Asian Studies, at regional events including OpenVA and UMW’s Faculty Academy, as well as in local workshops on technology and curriculum development, among others.

As further details about presenters and the format emerge, we will post them here. In the meantime, you can register for the event, which will be free of charge, here:

If you have any questions, please let us know.

OpenVA 2.0: October 18th, 2014

Below is the text of an email I recently sent out to all of the attendees at last year’s inaugural OpenVA conference. As the following email notes, this year we are doing things a bit different, focusing more intently on how we utilize out time together to build some momentum around getting some things done. It seems to have resonated with folks because we already have 75+ registrants in less than two weeks, and most folks on that email list are still enjoying the precious last moments of summer vacation. Read on for more details and be sure to register before we cap out at 150.


Image Credit: EdCamp Fort Wayne


This Fall we are running a 2nd Annual OpenVA conference, but we have decided to change up the format a bit. As you may recall, the inaugural event held last October at the University of Mary Washington was a conference format that brought together educators, learning technology specialists and administrators to share innovative practices using open education resources. Since that time, the planning committee has remained engaged and they are enthusiastic about furthering the work in this area.

We have scheduled a follow-up event, to be held at Tidewater Community College on Saturday, October 18th. The event is free and open to all, and will focus on a relatively small number of existing projects in and around Virginia that feature how various universities are utilizing open content, infrastructure, and pedagogy to garner both grassroots and institutional support for sharing open resources and to promote institutional collaboration. Some specific projects include Tidewater Community College’s “Z-Degree” focused on affordable textbooks, University of Mary Washington’s Domain of One’s Own created to empower students and faculty to manage their digital lives, as well as looking at how various institutions are rethinking IT infrastructure in light of cloud computing. And that’s just a few of the projects and topics

What’s more, we want your projects too! We are interested in other innovative higher ed projects exploring open educational resources, open infrastructure, or open pedagogy happening around the state. Submit your example using the following link, and the committee will reach out for more details:

This Summit on Building Open VA will features examples as well as gather input from participants during four focused discussion sessions with the purpose of developing recommendations for a statewide open resource strategy.

Please help in the promotion of this event among your colleagues.  We wish to attract faculty, administrators, legislators, librarians and learning technologists,

  • who have put together successful individual initiatives that they would like to expand or scale
  • who know, or want to know, how to support an Open educational initiative,
  • who understand the importance of an Open Initiative and want to get a better understanding of how ‘Open’ is currently being deployed throughout Virginia,
  • who believe in the promise of ‘Open’ but don’t know where to get started or how to sustain an open initiative once it gets started,
  • who want to learn how to form and write policy for open education.

Some event presenters will be invited by the planning committee based on its prior knowledge of their work and its relevance to the topics.  However, there is also an open call on the website for submissions so that the committee can learn about other examples and incorporate them into a robust schedule for the day.

The event website is:

Also, you can register for the event, which will be free of charge, here:

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Thanks for your attention,

Jim Groom
If you want to end any further emails about OpenVA, send me an email and let me know. You can respond to this email or send a note to

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 institution in Virginia. That email will layout the reconstitution 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 conversation of 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 approach to the conference, 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. So until 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!


Minding the Future Panel to be Featured on NPR

Looks like parts of the Minding the Future panel along with individual interviews with its particpants will be featured on NPR’s “With Good Reason” radio show this Sunday, November 17th from 1-2 PM on Radio IQ 88.3 Digital. It will be fun to hear what the show makes of the event and its featured speakers. What’s more, I’m hoping Sarah McConnell covers some of the issues, topics, and presentations she saw at the OpenVA conference the following day. I guess I’ll just have to listen to find out. Below is a copy of the press release released by UMW yesterday. All this just serves as a haunting reminder that I have yet to blog about either of these amazing events that took place almost a month ago. Hope springs eternal!

Highlights from the first Open and Digital Learning Resources Conference held at the University of Mary Washington in October will be featured on the public radio show “With Good Reason.” The conference, known as OpenVA, brought together more than 250 experts from Virginia institutions to examine the future of higher education and technology. The show, “The Future of Higher Education,” will air beginning on Saturday, Nov. 16.
Jeffrey McClurken moderated a panel during the first OpenVA conference at UMW.

The program will feature the panel of David Wiley, Kin Lane, Alan Levine, Gardner Campbell and Audrey Watters, moderated by Professor and Chair of History and American Studies at UMW Jeffrey McClurken. Experts from Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia State University also will discuss the challenges and opportunities of digital learning. The two-day conference was sponsored by the State Council for Higher Education and the University of Mary Washington. Audio files of the full program and its companion news feature will be posted online the week of the show at

For full videos from conference sessions, visit

“With Good Reason” is a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. The show airs weekly in Fredericksburg on Sundays from 1-2 p.m. on Radio IQ 88.3 Digital. To listen from outside of the Fredericksburg area, a complete list of air times and links to corresponding radio stations can be found at

Minding the Future Program at a Glance

It’s hard to believe both Minding the Future and OpenVA are less than a week away now. I’ve finally gotten the titles and abstracts of the 10-minute talks happening in the afternoon along with a sneak preview of some of the issues to be discussed in the closing panel discussion. This should be a pretty amazing day, and I think we should be able to stream it all live at Stay tuned for more on that front. In the meantime, feast your eyes on this, a conference about the future of education that can actually resist the popular urge to advocate systemically dismantling and defunding higher ed ;)

2:30-3:00 Alan Levine’s “Memorable/Unmemorable”
If asked whether they would like to be remembered, almost no one would answer “No”. But multiple choice questions can be trickier than they seem. The education future some are painting for us is a path focused on a destination, reached via an unmemorable journey.

3:00 -3:30 Kin Lane’s “Access, Interoperability, Privacy and Security Of Technology Will Set The Stage For The Future of Education”
The future of education will be fueled by the access and interoperability introduced by common, everyday web and mobile applications that our children use in school and at home, and we depend on as adults in our workplaces and personal lives. By providing proper access and interoperability in applications, bundled with the healthy education of end-users around these features, and fully respecting user’s privacy and security, technologists can help define the future of education and evolve the next generation of citizens who are web literate by default, and never stop learning, creating and sharing.

3:30 – 4:00: Audrey Watters’s “A Future with Only 10 Universities”
Sebastian Thrun’s claims that in 50 years, we’ll only have 10 institutions “delivering higher education and Udacity has a shot at being one of them.” What (horror) has to happen in order to get us to “ten.”

4:00 – 4:30 David Wiley’s “Implications of the Open Content Infrastructure”
Open infrastructures radically decrease the cost (and therefore risk) of experimentation, which consequently increases the pace of innovation. For example, the open communications infrastructure known as the internet radically reduced the cost of experimenting with new services and business models dealing in information (c.f. the costs and risks of experimenting with pre-internet “publication” business models for disseminating information or enabling communication). Over the last decade, individuals, foundations, and governments have built an open content infrastructure (OER) on top of the open communications infrastructure (internet). This open content infrastructure has enabled a second wave of low cost / low risk experimentation in a range of content-related fields including education and research.

4:30 – 5:00:  Jon Udell’s “Observable work and the reinvention of apprenticeship”
For most of human history the work of the world was directly observable. A young person saw, and often participated in, the farming and the hunting and the building. Then the adults vanished from the scene. They had all gone to the factory or the office. Work became opaque to the young.

Now work is again becoming observable. Increasingly both the processes and products of work are represented digitally, in ways that can enable learners and practitioners to connect. Will universities nurture those connections?

5:00 – 6:00 Break/Food and Refreshments

6:00 – 7:30 Panel on the Future of Higher Ed moderated by Jeff McCLurken 

This panel will include all of the day’s speakers responding to a wide variety of questions—a sampling of whcih can be found below:

  • What have been the most exciting developments in higher education over the last 5 years?
  • What will be the most exciting developments in higher education in the next 5 years?What developments concern you?
  • Who are the major players (people, institutions, businesses, foundations) in the digitally enabled higher education landscape?  What are their goals?  Who pays for this transformation?
  • What role does the defunding of higher education, especially at the state level, have to do with these changes?
  • What is the role of the state and federal government in these conversations?  What is it likely to be, going forward?
  • Business and technology leaders have been telling those of us in higher education that we have our heads in the sand, that MOOCS in particular are going to wash over us and we will be out of business. So, do public institutions of higher education have their collective heads in the sand when it comes to MOOCs, online learning, and “electronic delivery revolution”? If so, what are we missing and why?

With Good Reason Radio Coming to OpenVA

I learned this past week that Sarah McConnell of NPR’s With Good Reason radio show will be coming to OpenVA on October 15th. The With Good Reason crew will be interviewing various people throughout the day from around the state as well as taking in the tech carnival, Fred Talks, afternoon presentations, and featured panels. It’s exciting to learn that a public radio show focused on education is coming to OpenVA. That said, it’s also entirely appropriate given the conference is focused on findings ways to promote the amazing work happening around Virginia’s public institutions of higher education, as well as fostering more robust and lasting statewide collaborations. Bring your radio voices, people!

The Conference before the Conference: Minding the Future

back-marty-rig-500OpenVA just got that much more awesome with this conference before the conference. On Monday, October 14th we will be bringing in five world-reknowned thinkers to discuss the disrutpive nature of technology and its impact on higher education. This event will be held at UMW’s Jepson Executive Alumni Center and is free and open to the public as long as seats are available (register here). This event was made possible by an auspicious alignment of resources, and it might be thought of as both a primer for and prelude to OpenVA.

Click here for the who, what, where, when and why.

An Innovation Incubator Grows in Virginia?

THE OG Incubator from Ridley Scott’s Alien

What might Virginia’s higher ed institutions do in terms of experimenting with distributed, virtual learning? How can the Commonwealth encourage technology-mediated exploration, collaboration, and implementation amongst a wide range of faculty, technologists, and students from its 39 public institutions of higher ed? These are two of the questions I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. In fact, I talk about them to just about anyone who’ll listen. A couple of months ago I asked Joe DeFillipo and Beverly Covington of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), whom I’ve been working closely with on OpenVa for the last 18 months, what Virginia is doing at the statewide level in terms of fostering collaboration amongst its public universities and colleges. The question seemed worth pursuing, so we organized a discussion about that very idea a few weeks later.

Click below to take the jump….

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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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