In Vino Fabulum, Episode no. 4: Talking with @bella_velo about @uncommon_women

It was so fun to chat with Kelsey Merkley (@bella_velo) during our second In Vino Fabulum interview — women telling their stories. There was a wealth of stuff we chatted about and we hope you enjoy listening to the conversation as much as we had chatting:

Kelsey thinks that more women need to be leaders and recognized for the work they do in the open education movement and in education. From biking to South Africa from Canada and building bridges between communities in the global south, Kelsey is always considering what the access and opportunities for learning. We need to encouraging ways to have more dialogue with those who aren’t always at the table/classroom/conference to be cognizant include a voice that is not always heard, specifically to ensure we have access of knowledge and the opportunity-cost that we miss out on by not learning from an audience that is more representative of all nations. How can we learn to solve issues in education from others? How can we offer space for other voices and remove the barriers for learning?

As a former librarian, Kelsey believes in access to information and ensuring knowledge is equitably shared. Some of the open technologies (ahem MOOCs) did not necessarily change the world, but it has gotten her thinking about the user experience and their own digital affordances beyond our North American experience. From the way we structure the web to the content we load onto each page, the digital pathway to accessing information is not the same and there are so many inequities for those learners who might not have the same privileges. Who are we providing learning to? What are the barriers faced when accessing learning globally? Have we thought about these issues in Canada or the US — when there are remote areas with limited internet access?

Ways we can consider access for women in education and at our conferences:

  • Are we offering educational scholarships to women who might not have access?
  • Are there funds or scholarships for women to a conference?
  • Is there childcare offered at the conference you are attending? Why or why not?
  • Are we thinking about ways to make connections at events or conferences? E.g. coffee breaks, morning breakfast, open networking, etc.
  • Can we create more spaces to have a chat or engage in dialog? E.g. space in the program of a conference, taking time for open discussions at meetings, etc.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Upcoming Conferences mentioned:

Uncommon Women

Uncommon Women is a space to offer voices, experiences, and work shared by the open education community in higher ed. To raise awareness this group has developed the Uncommon Women: coloring book you can DOWNLOAD to color this here:

Questions asked during an Uncommon Women Panel

  1. What is a “thing” a women in leadership could do for you right now? What is that specific thing? Be precise about what you need for your personal/professional self.
  2. What is a “thing” an ally can do to support your in your work, role, etc.? Be specific for the type of support, advocacy, sponsor, mentor, etc.

“Almost half of male managers are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a women, such as mentoring, working along, or socializing together.”  via

Kelsey’s Recommended Women to Follow:

#InVinoFab Recommendations from Kelsey:

Connect and learn more the fantastic stuff Kelsey is working on here:

Do you want to share what you are working on? I know you must have a tell. Let us know – please reach out to use by messaging (@ or DM) us on Twitter: @3Wedu Or send us an email:


#InVinoFab: In Vino Fabulum Podcast

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