It was our first time organizing a conference, and we did it on short notice, about four months. Where we didn’t know what to do, we mostly made it be like PyCon: 30-minute talks, 10 minutes between talks, a few opportunities for lightning talks, etc.
Judging from the #openedxcon tweet stream, and from talking to people afterward, people seemed to really like it.
I gave part of the edX keynote, and as usually happens when I give a talk, there are things I know I am going to say, and things that seem to just pop out of my mouth once I get going. I was showing two examples of long-tail Open edX sites, and making the point that edX would never have put these particular courses online itself. I said,
It isn’t really open source until stuff just starts happening that’s completely beyond your reach.
But it got tweeted as:
“It isn’t open source until stuff starts happening that is beyond our control.” - Ned Batchelder @OpenEdX #openedxcon
How meta: I say something, then the community turns it into something else, beyond my control! This was widely re-quoted, and was repeated by our CEO at another edX event later that week.
There’s a difference between “beyond our reach” and “beyond our control.” Not a huge difference, but I was talking more about reach at the time. But maybe that’s a sign that things really are working, when it is beyond your control, and it’s still good. Just like I “said.”
And Open edX is going well: there are about 60 sites running 400 courses, all over the world. EdX has as outsized goal of educating a billion students by 2020, and Open edX will be a significant part of that. The 160 people at the conference were excited to help by running their own sites and courses. The conference was a success, even the parts beyond our control...