As noted by Witt (2020) in “Towards a Working Definition of Open Pedagogy,” the definition of open pedagogy has undergone a process of definition, redefinition, and adaptation through time. In fact, some researchers have labeled open pedagogy as “undefinable.” As initially defined by Wiley (2013), open pedagogy occurs when students and faculty take advantage of the “5 Rs” of openly licensed content (retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute) to expand learning opportunities in the classroom. Other scholars specifically define open pedagogy as an approach to teaching in which students join the academic conversation of a topic by creating course materials that are shared with an open license. This may involve creating assignments that are “renewable,” meaning they have utility beyond the classroom. Others have connected open pedagogy to theoretical teaching approaches, such as experiential learning, peer learning, and student-centered learning. For some instructors, open pedagogy also has a close relationship to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Examples of these and other open pedagogical practices can be found in the Open Pedagogy Notebook and Project Roadmap listed in additional resources. The variety in definitions is further complicated by similar terms used in the open education community. Wiley and Hilton later defined “OER-enabled pedagogy” as teaching using open educational resources (OER), which is very similar to the original definition of open pedagogy, further muddying the waters. The term “open pedagogy” has often been synonymized with “OER-enabled pedagogy” or “open educational practices.”
Because there is significant variation in the use of the term “open pedagogy,” and because the term is sometimes used interchangeably with similar ones, such as “OER-enabled pedagogy” and “open educational practices,” here we provide a very broad and flexible definition: Open pedagogy is a set of teaching practices built on the foundation of the open education community’s shared values, which are varied. These values help us to understand what open pedagogy means and how it can be used in education. These values include engaging with the global community, sharing openly licensed content, using student-centered approaches, asserting student agency, and increasing diverse and inclusive curriculum and content.
At its heart, open pedagogy is the process of involving students in the creation, adaptation, and/or dissemination of openly licensed content. While some consider the mere use of OER in curriculum to be open pedagogy, OER-enabled pedagogy may be a better description of that. Whether using or creating openly licensed materials, these resources allow students to engage with a global community. A common description of open pedagogy assignments that involve student creation is that they are “renewable” rather than “disposable,” due to the ability of students to build customizable resources and contribute to a larger conversation. Course assignments that involve the adaptation or creation of openly licensed resources can lead to improved diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in course materials by providing opportunities for diverse student voices to be heard.
Open pedagogy assignments create an environment for student-centered learning by allowing individual learners to guide their own learning experiences. Additionally, experiential learning, or learning through active and relevant classroom experiences, occurs when students are involved in open pedagogical activities, such as building an open textbook. Student agency is a core value of open pedagogy. Student privacy, vulnerability, equity, and agency must be thoroughly considered when designing course curriculum with open pedagogical projects. Legally and ethically speaking, students should not and cannot be coerced or mandated into identifying themselves in openly licensed materials or required to openly license their assignments for course credit or a grade. Instructors must also be aware of potential power differentials with students. For example, if a student is uncomfortable openly licensing their work, they may fear a negative impact on their grade. Adhering to the value of student agency requires obtaining full permission from students before openly publishing any of their work. The use, intent, and future implications of the project, as well as how the licensing will work, should be made clear in the learning objectives. Some students may experience social anxiety that could dissuade them from fully committing to a project, so it is essential for each student to not only understand what is being asked of them, but what will happen with a project after it is finished.
Additionally, the sharing and licensing of traditional knowledge related to Indigenous communities should be honored. Students working on projects related to cultural or Indigenity topics should respect the autonomy and authority of said peoples and defer to their resources by seeing what has already been shared and cited. While indigenous cultures may be willing to and often do share their traditions and knowledge, care should be taken not to remix, co-opt, or colonize sacred or cultural materials. Guidance can be found in BCcampus’ Indigenization guides, listed in additional resources.
Open education; OER-enabled pedagogy; Open-enabled practices; Diversity, equity, and inclusion; Experiential learning; Student agency; Openly licensed
Wiley, D. (2013). What is open pedagogy? https://edtechbooks.org/-ysk
Wiley, D., & Hilton III, J. L. (2018). Defining OER-enabled pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(4). https://edtechbooks.org/-HIQT
Witt, A. (2020). Towards a working definition of open pedagogy. https://edtechbooks.org/-BeBX
BCcampus. (n.d.). Indigenization guides. https://edtechbooks.org/-PAXn
Clifton, A., & Hoffman, K. D. (2020). Open pedagogy approaches: Faculty, library, and student collaborations. Mline Library Publishing. https://edtechbooks.org/-qJxqt
Hegarty, B. (2015). Attributes of open pedagogy: A model for using open educational resources. https://edtechbooks.org/-Wkwo
Jhangiani, R., & DeRosa, R. (2017). Open pedagogy. Open Pedagogy Notebook. https://edtechbooks.org/-jcy
Mays, E. (Ed.). (2017). A guide to making open textbooks with students. The Rebus Community for Open Textbook Creation. https://edtechbooks.org/-iAxG
McGeary, B., & Riehman-Murphy, C. (2021). Open pedagogy project roadmap case studies and resources. https://edtechbooks.org/-RjBV.
Nusbaum, A. T. (2020). Who gets to wield academic mjolnir?: On worthiness, knowledge curation, and using the power of the people to diversify OER. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, (1), p.4. https://edtechbooks.org/-LQZ
Roe, L. (2022). Open pedagogy: Learn, create, share. isu.pressbooks.pub. https://edtechbooks.org/-QSYZ
Sinkinson, C. (2018, November 14). The values of open pedagogy. EDUCAUSE Review. https://edtechbooks.org/-qLrV
Year of Open. (2018). What is open pedagogy? https://edtechbooks.org/-pfWM
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