Open Pedagogy, shared aspects

This post is part of my reflection on an upcoming talk I’m giving at Douglas College about open pedagogy: “What’s Open about Open Pedagogy?” I an earlier post I started collecting some examples of activities that people have put under the umbrella of open pedagogy. Then I did some reflecting on possible differences between open pedagogy and open educational practices . In my last post I looked at open education in the 60s and 70s.

Here I’m trying to summarize what I’ve got so far around open pedagogy. This is an extension of work I did in a series of posts on open pedagogy earlier this year, all of which are linked in the last one: Navigating Open Pedagogy Part 2. In that post I did a good deal of pulling together of various threads of how people define open pedagogy, and here I’m going to try to refine it even more.

So reading that post might be a useful precursor to this post, because I’m going to do some shorthand here, based on what was discussed there. I’ll also be adding some things based on what else I’ve read since then.

My earlier list of aspects of open pedagogy

When I surveyed a bunch of views of open pedagogy in April 2017 (see Navigating Open Pedagogy Part 2) I came to the following list of things that were mentioned by at least a couple of people as aspects of open pedagogy:

  • Connection to Open Educational Resources (OERs): David Wiley, among others, focuses on what the 5R permissions of OERs that have those allows in terms of teaching and learning that you wouldn’t get if you were working with non-OER content. In a blog post called “OER-enabled pedagogy,” he describes how the term “open pedagogy” is too contested at the moment so he is creating his own term to fit what he is most interested in:

    OER-enabled pedagogy is the set of teaching and learning practices only possible or practical when you have permission to engage in the 5R activities.

  • Access: some talk about open pedagogy as broadly helping with access to higher ed.
    • I just read a chapter today by Robin DeRosa and Rajiv Jhangiani in the Rebus Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students: Chapter 1, Open Pedagogy. They talk about access in broader terms than the cost savings of OERs. My understanding of their point, as noted in my annotations (accessible via this link to the chapter), is that thinking about access in terms of cost can open us up to realizing that access issues are broader, too:

      Will they be able to read their Chemistry textbook given their vision impairment? Will their LMS site list them by their birth name rather than their chosen name, and thereby misgender them? Will they have access to the knowledge they need for research if their college restricts their search access or if they don’t have Wi-Fi or a computer at home? Are they safe to participate in online, public collaborations if they are undocumented? Is their college or the required adaptive learning platform collecting data on them, and if so, could those data be used in ways that could put them at risk?

  • Connections: student-student, student-faculty, student/faculty to broader community
  • Student autonomy, sharing authority with students, including having students co-create syllabus, course guidelines, course assignments, OERs
  • Students contributing knowledge to others beyond their class, including to the public
  • Transparency: faculty and staff being transparent about what is happening in courses and at the university, and why
  • Open reflective practice: reflecting openly on one’s practice and processes, whether as faculty, student, staff
  • Being open-minded, receptive to change
  • Promoting values of equity and other social justice concerns: this might be what motivates a number of the above points


 Some other lists

Here are a couple of lists by other people of what falls under “open pedagogy” or “open educational practices” (see my previous blog post on these two things where I try to parse how I feel about whether they are different).

Hegarty (2015)

I did talk about Bronwyn Hegarty’s article “Attributes of Open Pedagogy: A Model for Using Open Educational Resources” (2015) in an earlier blog post called Navigating Open Pedagogy Part 1, but I’ll revisit it briefly here. She gives a model of open pedagogy that has eight attributes:

  • participatory technologies: use for interacting via web 2.0, social networks and mobile apps
  • people, openness, trust: developing trust, openness and confidence for working with others
  • innovation and creativity: encourage spontaneous innovation and creativity
  • sharing ideas and resources: share ideas and resources freely to disseminate knowledge
  • connected community: participate in a connected community of professionals
  • learner generated: facilitate learners’ contributions to OER
  • reflective practice: engage in opportunities for reflective practice
  • peer review: contribute to open critique of others’ scholarship (p. 5)

She argues that these attributes are tied to OER (p. 4, p. 11), such that materials used and created are open educational resources.

What this model adds to my list above includes a focus on trust, such that students and faculty are willing to engage in sharing ideas and resources, through participatory technologies, and to connect with a larger community. This means a supportive environment, not where there is no criticism, but where it is constructive and respectful (if it exists), and where the atmosphere is one of helping each other to learn.

It also adds innovation and creativity, though students co-creating or revising or independently creating OER could fall under this.

Finally, the focus on peer review isn’t directly reflected in my earlier list, though connecting with other students and a wider community could involve peer review.

Eight qualities of open pedagogy (2015)

In Eight Qualities of Open Pedagogy from Rob Reynolds at Next Thought, a different set of 8 aspects of open pedagogy is presented, that emerged out of a discussion among several people:

1. open = agency — Learners are individuals and independent agents within the learning process. They are allowed to operate independently and explore with personal freedom.

2. open = choice — Learners choose their own pace, their own direction, and their own connections.

3. open = expansion — The learning network is an open-ended and ever-expanding network of nodes. Each node in the network represents is a connection, a possibility for learning. Everything in the network is a project.

4. open = creativity — Openness translates to rich possibilities that inspire new perspectives and ideas.

5. open = student-constructed — Learners take responsibility for their learning networks and are active participants in its planning and growth.

6. open = open-ended problems — Learning design is focused less on specific outcomes or competencies than on process. It is about empowering learners to create real solutions to real problems.

7. open: unmeasurable outcomes — Traditional outcome measurement implies the learning is static and closed.

8. open = risk and goodness — Choosing often leads to unexpected and unpredictable results. While there is risk associated with the unknown, there is even greater reward and goodness.

Some new things that this list adds are the last three, numbers 6-8. Open-ended problems and unmeasurable outcomes seem related to me, though I suppose you could possibly have the latter without the former (or vice versa). I see the point about unmeasurable outcomes also being tied to student agency and autonomy, because it’s hard to determine in advance what the outcomes of learning are going to be if what students learn, and how, is at least partly determined by their own agency.

I like the focus on risk here in number 8–that’s really critical to remember. When we ask students to connect with larger communities, to contribute to public knowledge, to have more agency in their learning, this means taking risks. It is also risky for faculty who don’t have as much control over how courses go. And if some students don’t react well to what is often a significant change in how they’re used to learning, then there is the risk of negative student evaluations that can sometimes have serious consequences.

However, the way number 8 is put here, it sounds like the more risk the better the “goodness,” which isn’t always the case. Sometimes risk leads to danger that outweighs potential benefits; e.g., what about the undocumented student whose status gets publicized, even inadvertently, as a result of public postings on blogs, social media, or other platforms?


Putting it all together

Pulling out themes from the above:

  1. Student agency, autonomy, choice–including sharing authority between teacher and students
  2. Transparency in educational practices & policies; fostering trust
  3. Open-ended problems, unmeasurable outcomes; favoring creativity, fostering innovation & change
  4. Students contributing to knowledge (rather than only or mostly consuming it)
  5. Connecting to a wider community–often beyond the class itself
  6. Access: in terms of cost, but also differences in ability, time, life situations & responsibilities (e.g., family responsibilities, work outside of education, etc.), risks associated with marginalized status, and more
  7. Wiley’s “OER-enabled pedagogy”: “the set of teaching and learning practices only possible or practical when you have permission to engage in the 5R activities”
  8. Social justice: equity, inclusivity–including by providing access to education and educational resources beyond a closed group of people;  also including reducing power imbalances in classroom)


Comparing to Open Education in the 1960s and 1970s

In my last post I took some notes on articles & chapters about the open education movement in the UK and North America (maybe elsewhere too?) during those decades. Here is a list of some aspects of “open education” from that time that I gleaned from the few things I read.

  • openness in space and time:
    • flexibility in the use of space, of students being able to move around freely in a space (or out of it), lacking rigid seating placements
    • flexibility in time, with students taking varying times to complete activities; lack of a rigid timetable
  • flexible curricula, with multiple points of entry, multiple pathways available
  • students direct their own learning goals and activities (to varying extents, depending on different views); focus on students developing in their own, individual ways with their own, individual interests and pathways of learning
  • individualized instruction as much as feasible (to go along with the ab0ve); some open classrooms did not have any whole group instruction at all
  • teachers acting more as facilitators than leaders
  • sharing of authority and direction of education between students and teachers: both choosing activities, setting up rules of the class, etc. (this falls out of some of the above)

Similarities between then and now, I think, are mostly in terms of student agency, autonomy, choice, and sharing of power and authority.

What today’s “open pedagogy” adds are things that didn’t exist before, or may be easier with 21st century technology, such as: open licenses, larger connected communities (made available through the internet), more of a focus on free or low-cost materials, students contributing to bodies of knowledge for others (including the public).

So though I doubt the history is direct–the modern open education movement probably didn’t emerge directly from the previous one–there are still ways the two have come together around some shared values. I expect there are histories of open education that show the connections and deviations much better than I can with my small amount of reading so far.



None yet! Mostly I’m here just trying to put together some of the things I’ve read in the last few months, along with the small amount of work I’ve done looking into open education in past decades. There is much more of the latter that I’d love to look into, and I just found this post by Tannis Morgan that suggests she is doing just that! Will be interesting to follow…




Works Cited

Hegarty, B. (2015). Attributes of open pedagogy: A model for using open educational resources. Education Technology Magazine, 4, 3–13. Retrieved from

Reynolds, R. (2015, February 24). Eight qualities of open pedagogy [blog post]. Retrieved from