Open Apereo 2020 begins on June 15th and runs through to June 19th. It’s a highly modular and completely online event. We have a great keynote from Kathleen Fitzpatrick - https://kfitz.info/ - on “Sustainability. Solidarity and the Common Good”. Other components include short overview presentations from the sixteen open source software communities under the Apereo umbrella, Michael Feldstein’s work to develop a resilience network serving higher education in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Apereo community presentations on the use of open source software in higher ed, HAXCamp exploring the development and use of web components, and a workshop exploring collaborative use of annotation in education with AnnotatED. You can discover more about the programme at conference.apereo.org . We’ve made the event “long and thin”, focusing key content in the US Eastern time zone mornings, to more easily allow participation from Europe and Africa. Looking at the profile of registrations so far, we’re already seeing a significant increase in registrations from Africa. There’s still time to sign up.
In previous years, I would probably be writing this from an airport somewhere, en route to a face to face event. Not so this year, and not simply because of COVID-19. Following last year’s Open Apereo in Los Angeles, we engaged the Apereo community in conversation about the shape of future Apereo events. While face to face events were highly valued, it’s been more and more apparent in recent years that higher education travel budgets are increasingly constrained. Hotel costs had – before the pandemic – risen considerably. It was obvious from community responses that purely face to face events were neither optimal or sustainable in the medium or long term. We therefore resolved to hold a small face to face event at a university as “hub”, with strong online components on specific topics as “spokes”. As it turned out, of course, COVID-19 put paid to the face to face component of the event, so next week we’re entirely online.
Late last year the Apereo Board began a conversation to explore potential contributions open source software for education might make to UN Sustainable Development Goals. That conversation is a work in progress, but it was blindingly obvious that developing sustainable software for higher education was little use without a sustainable planet for higher education to serve. Put bluntly: we work in technology – collaborative, learning technology – surely we can find a more sustainable means of collaboration than flying people around the world?
A lot of community members have worked hard to ensure next week’s event is a success. I hope Kathleen’s talk will spark more conversations in our community about redeveloping perspectives of Higher Education as a common good, and the role that we, as open source advocates can play. It strikes me that this conversation has been given considerably more urgency by recent events. Join us next week.