Open pedagogy: examples of class activities

An upcoming talk I’m giving

On October 26 I’m giving a talk at Douglas College in the Vancouver, BC (Canada) area, with the title: “What’s Open about Open Pedagogy?” It’s part of Douglas College’s Open Access Week events.

I brainstorm by writing, and I figured I might as well share my rough thoughts with others in case they find any of it useful. I’ll also share the slides from the talk here on my blog when they’re finished. I expect things will change significantly once my thoughts get from the rough brainstorm form to the slides!

I’m thinking at the moment of an outline for the talk along these lines (with an intro as yet unspecified, talking about why it’s useful to discuss this at all):

  1. What are some examples of things that people have called “open pedagogy”?
  2. How have others defined open pedagogy? What do I think?
    • I’ve already had a lot to say about this in a series of blog posts earlier this year. You can see links to all of them in the last post, called “Navigating Open Pedagogy part 2.”
    • What are the relationships between open pedagogy, open educational practices, students as producers, and students as partners?
  3. What’s open about open pedagogy?
    • What does “open” seem to mean, such that it can cover open access, open data, open science, open government, open pedagogy… (this is a gigantic topic in and of itself; I won’t be able to do it justice but I’ll make a start)
    • Does that fit the views of open pedagogy from (1) and (2)?
    • does any of this change our views of “open pedagogy”?

Oh my…now that I write that out, I think: this is going to be too much for a one-hour talk plus Q&A afterwards. This could probably be a book. Oh well…let’s see what comes out of my brainstorming and whether it’s feasible.

In this post I am just collating a few examples of what people have called “open pedagogy” activities in classes.

Examples of open pedagogy activitiesicon of a circle of silhouettes of people with an unlocked padlock in the middle


There are lots, so I’m going to briefly list a few I might discuss in my talk–a representative sample of sorts. Not all of the products from these activities are openly licensed, but they do at least fall under “non-disposable assignments,” as discussed below.

Student work adding value to the world: non-disposable assignments

In a blog post from July 2016 David Wiley talks about how many assignments in post-secondary courses are “disposable”–students write them only for an audience of the instructor and/or TA, and once they get a grade the work is disposable because it serves no other purpose. Wiley suggests students are also given “renewable assessments”: “the student’s work won’t be discarded at the end of the process, but will instead add value to the world in some way.”

Tom Woodward says something similar in an interview about open pedagogy published in Campus Technology in 2014: “Students are publishing for an audience greater than their instructor. That matters. Their work, being open, has the potential to be used for something larger than the course itself and to be part of a larger global conversation.”

Examples of non-disposable assignments:

  • Students in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada do a research practicum in their fourth year, where they work with a community organization to develop a research project that will provide a product useful to the partner.
  • A number of the things listed below are examples of “non-disposable” or “renewable” assignments as well.

Wikipedia assignments

David Wiley mentions these in a blog post from 2013 as examples of open pedagogy. A couple of recent Wikipedia projects from UBC:

  • English 470 students wrote or edited articles on Canadian literature (2017)
  • BIOL 345 students wrote or edited articles on topics around sustainability, climate change, or ecology, focused on Canada (2017)

Students contributing to open textbooks

Wiley mentions this in the same blog post from 2013 as linked above. Some examples:

  • Two books described by Robin DeRosa in which students made significant contributions
  • The Open Logic Project is a collaborative logic textbook authored by faculty and students (mostly grad students, but some undergrads also contribute)
  • Several examples of how students have contributed to open textbooks can be found in the “case studies” section of the Rebus Foundation’s Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students (ed. Liz Mays)

Students making or contributing to other OERs

UBC examples (not all are openly licensed, but they are publicly available):

Some examples in a blog post by Lorna Campbell, from U of Edinburgh: Student Engagement with OER at University of Edinburgh

Students in an ornithology class at Vancouver Island University in BC, Canada, created blog posts about a local bird species that were collated into a collection showcasing birds local to the area: VIU, Biology 325 site. (not openly licensed)

Students in a 4th year course in Indigenous New Media & Digital Storytelling at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, wrote blog posts, created digital stories, and came up with design ideas for exhibits at the new Indian Residential School Dialogue and History Centre at UBC.

Students creating the curriculum (or parts of it)

In her contribution to the April 2017 topic of “open pedagogy” in the Year of Open perspectives series, Maha Bali speaks of content-independent teaching, where the students ask questions and find readings to help answer them, and then blog about those things.

In the same post Maha also talks about students contributing to syllabi, and also students writing quiz or exam questions (see Rajiv Jhangiani’s post about students writing multiple choice questions in a Social Psychology class); she notes how a Digital Storytelling class, DS106 at the University of Mary Washington, has students contribute assignments for other students to do, in an assignment bank.

Robin DeRosa explains how students created learning outcomes and assignments in a First Year Seminar, in her post Extreme Makeover: Pedagogy Edition (2017). The students also generated a textbook from their work in the course.



Please add your examples of open pedagogy activities, in the comments below…



Some people have added their examples on Twitter. Here they are!



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