Navigating open pedagogy, part 2

many different colours of embroidery thread, tangled together

Trying to pull together stray threads. Threads image licensed CC0 on

This is the last (for now) in a series of posts over the last couple of days on open pedagogy. Previous posts:

  • Part 1, where I do some not terribly focused reflecting on some recent posts on open pedagogy, as well as my own view before reading them (warning: long!)
  • Part 1.5, where I consider: why try to define open pedagogy at all?

This post is dedicated to trying to pull together some of the threads from what I’ve read in the last two days.

Note: I have gone back later (November 2017) and added some things here and there…so not all of this was written in the original post.

What is “open” about open pedagogy?

In part 1 of this series, I discovered that I don’t have an answer to the question of what is added to “pedagogy” or “educational practices” when I put “open” in front of them. Now I’m going to try to come to some clarity for myself on that.

Note that I’m using open pedagogy (OP) and open educational practices (OEP) interchangeably here. Maybe someday I’ll separate them.

Some commonalities in what I’ve gathered from others’ views

I’m here including links to some new posts and resources that I didn’t have in part 1 of this series, as well as some that I did.

  • OER: a number of people (e.g., Wiley 1, Wiley 2, Hegarty) define open pedagogy in terms of practices that are made possible by open licenses, so practices that are made possible by OER
    • Under this view, one might say that OP or OEP include things like revising, remixing, redistributing OER (is retaining them an open practice, though?)
  • Access:
    • Robin DeRosa: “The open license helps us reduce textbook costs, but it also symbolizes the belief that college costs– everything from tuition to transportation– should be addressed and reduced/covered as part of a strong public educational infrastructure.”
    • Samantha Veneruso: “Open practices privilege access: access to content, access to learning.”
  • Connections: A number of posts talk about OP as promoting connections–between students, between students and teachers, between the class and people outside the class, etc. E.g.,
    • Jim Luke: “Isolation vs. Connectedness:  Does the pedagogy and learning activities exist predominantly in a closed, isolated space such as the traditional classroom or do they engage and form connections with the larger, outside world?”
    • Maha Bali: “A focus on students networking in public. Having students interact with each other or people outside the class altogether on social media like Twitter (see my Twitter Scavenger Hunt as a small-scale example) or creating entire courses where students are constantly interacting with others outside of the course (a recent example is Networked Narratives by Mia Zamora and Alan Levine)….”
    • Samantha Veneruso: “Open practices emphasize connection and community enabled by technology.”
    • Tannis Morgan: “Open as a means to connect with a broader, global community”
    • Robin DeRosa: “Connection. Helping students become lifelong learners is a real thing, and I am tired of the lip service that we pay it. … Teaching them the skills that help them enter a collaborative scholarly and/or professional community will give them access to the content in their fields as it changes over time.”
    • Bronwyn Hegarty: “connected community: participate in a connected community of professionals”
  • Students as co-creators, as having more authority & autonomy in their education
    • Heather Ross: “If teachers and students can now modify their textbooks and learning materials, we shift the student emphasis to contribution to knowledge as opposed to simple consumption of knowledge.”
    • Devon Ritter: “the ability for learners to shape and take ownership of their own education”
    • Samantha Veneruso: “Open practices are learner driven.”
    • Catherine Cronin: “Overall, open education practitioners and researchers describe OEP as moving beyond a content-centred approach to openness, shifting the focus from resources to practices, with learners and teachers sharing the processes of knowledge creation.”
    • Robin DeRosa: “Learner-Driven Structures. Another thing Higher Ed pays a lot of lip service to is the idea of “student centered learning.” Working with OER helped me see learning materials as more shape-able, and involving students in that shaping had a profound effect on the location of authority in our classroom.”
    • Jim Luke: “Teacher as “the” authority vs. Students being able to bring other sources of authority.”
    • Me, in part 1 of this series: “Involving students in co-creating the curriculum, such as through helping to choose some of the course topics, choosing the nature of assignments for the course, or creating texts, videos or other content for the course.”
  • Students contributing valuable knowledge and resources to the world
    • Maha Bali: “…trying to create assignments that are sustainable or not disposable, assignments that would have benefit to others beyond the limited course time and space. For example, having students create their own blogs or domains (see Domain of One’s Own), edit Wikipedia or create podcasts or websites that have value beyond the course.”
    • Gill Green: “Learners contributing novel ideas and original research to pressing contemporary problems.”
    • David Wiley 2013: “Because students know their work will be used both by their peers and potentially by future generations of students, they invest in this work at a different level.”)
    • David Wiley 2016: “A “renewable assessment” differs [from a disposable one] in that 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.”
    • Me, in part 1 of this series: “Asking students to do renewable, or non-disposable assignments in courses. These involve students creating things that others can revise and reuse, that add value to the world beyond the course.”
  • Social justice, equity
    • Maha Bali: one of the two components of the ethos of OP: “A social justice orientation – caring about equity, with openness as one way to achieve this”
    • Open Educational Practices Scotland, which I found through this slide deck by Beck Pitt et al.: “We think of Open Educational Practices as those educational practices that are concerned with and promote equity and openness. Our understanding of ‘open’ builds on the freedoms associated with “the 5 Rs” of OER, promoting a broader sense of open, emphasising social justice, and developing practices that open up opportunities for those distanced from education.
  • Open-mindedness, receptivity to change
    • Suzan Koseoglu: “What are our “spaces of possibility”? How do we construct those spaces and nurture democratic learning environments where people get exposed to different perspectives, challenge the way they view the world and their position it?”
    • Maha Bali and Suzan Koseoglu: Being an “editable person”: “being willing to listen and change our perspective: being willing to change our mind when interacting with someone with a different worldview from our own, being willing to take risks or try something new, being willing to give another the benefit of the doubt in our social interactions.” [this item added to this post Nov. 2017]
    • Bronwyn Hegarty: open practices “encourage spontaneous innovation and creativity”
  • Transparency
    • David Wiley: “No doubt we have yet to see definitions of open pedagogy that approach from other open traditions, like the “open” in open government where open primarily means transparent.”
    • Rajiv Jhangiani: “open pedagogy would also encompass instructional practices such as open and transparent course design and development”
    • Rajiv Jhangiani: “even though we may operationally define “open” differently, we share a common foundation that values access, agency, transparency, and quality.”
    • Maha Bali and Suzan Koseoglu: “… making our own processes explicit. Laura Gogia and Bonnie Stewart, for example, opened up their academic practice to the public by making the process of their thesis defenses transparent, as described here). There are some educators who regularly share their processes of creation behind-the-scenes on their blogs, narrating it (see Alan Levine and Terry Elliott’s blogs). [this item added to this post Nov. 2017]
    • Me, in part 1 of this series: “Open course planning, which I first saw via Paul Hibbits at an ETUG (British Columbia Educational Technology User’s Group) meeting in 2014. See my blog post about that here.”
  • Reflective practice: this could be part of transparency, but I’m pulling out as separate for now
    • Me, in part 1 of this series: “Engaging in open reflection on educational practices and processes, whether by students or profs or staff or anyone else involved in an educational experience.”–I was thinking of public reflections like on this blog
    • Bronwyn Hegarty: “engage in opportunities for reflective practice”; Hegarty includes the value of feedback from peers on this practice (p. 10), so it sounds like doing reflection to some degree openly would be good

And as I am reading through, finally, I think all of the posts and slide decks on Maha Bali’s curated list, I find that Open Door Classroom by Jesse Stommel (slides) has many of the above points in it as well.

What else?

Have anything to add? Please put it in the comments, below!

What might all this have to do with open?

I’m trying to figure out, recall, what is added to “pedagogy” when we talk about “open pedagogy.” And if it’s something like the above list (with the list being not final, not necessarily the last word and me policing boundaries), then why might we call something like a gathering of the above things “openness” in terms of pedagogy?

There’s open as in:

  • visible: transparency
  • changeable: open-mindedness, openness to change; 5R’s (e.g., revision, remixing)
  • available: access
  • crossing boundaries: connections, wider communities, students contributing knowledge and resources to the world
  • freedom: autonomy, shared authority

Where does equity/social justice fit in here, though?

Here’s another way to think about it. Open is the opposite of closed, and to me, closed means things like:

  • encircled by boundaries that keep some things in and others out
  • private
  • hidden
  • locked or restricted

And these have to do with social justice, because they often mean that what is private and hidden to some is not so to others. So in a way, all of the above might be related to social justice and equity.

So maybe we could think of the above in terms of reducing boundaries, or making them permeable (because I don’t think a practice without any boundaries at all is even conceivable)? (And with due credit to Alan Levine for helping me understand the difference between porosity and permeability!) Making things visible, available, changeable, and providing freedom to be self-directed would all be connected to permeable boundaries to some extent.

From this, I tried to come up with some pithy definition, but I’m not really succeeding. So for now I’m just going to think of OP or OEP as: teaching and learning practices that open up otherwise closed educational boundaries to promote access, agency, connections, transparency, and transformation for the sake of improved student learning along with equity and social justice. But that’s a mouthful and not really all that more helpful than the list above. Hmmmm….

And I discover that after all this, I am very much in agreement with Maha Bali’s two aspects of the ethos of open pedagogy!

I would say open pedagogy is an ethos that has two major components:

  • A belief in the potential of openness and sharing to improve learning
  • A social justice orientation – caring about equity, with openness as one way to achieve this


I welcome comments on these reflections, as well as attempts to put the above together into a less wordy way of thinking about open pedagogy!