Open pedagogy: renewable assignments

I hope this message finds you all buzzing with enthusiasm for the world of open education. :globe_with_meridians::sparkles: Today, I’m thrilled to ignite a conversation around something transformative – Renewable Assignments! :seedling::books:

:mag: What’s the buzz about? Renewable Assignments aren’t just about tasks; they’re a gateway to a new era of learning. Imagine assignments that evolve, adapt, and grow with students, fostering continuous development and skill refinement. That’s the magic of “Renewable Assignments”! :rainbow::rocket:

:rocket: Why does it matter? In a world where adaptability and lifelong learning are paramount, Renewable Assignments open doors to innovation in teaching and learning. :door::sparkles: Let’s dive deep into how they can revolutionize education, from sparking creativity to preparing students for the dynamic challenges of the future. :globe_with_meridians::bulb:

:star2: Join the Conversation: I want to hear your thoughts, experiences, and wild ideas about Renewable Assignments! Have you tried them? Do you see potential untapped benefits? Let’s share stories, insights, and strategies that can transform the educational landscape together! :speech_balloon::handshake:

:mega: Call to Action: I invite you to be part of this journey! Share your experiences, drop your questions, or simply throw in your favorite GIF to express your excitement! Let’s turn this post into a vibrant hub of ideas and inspiration. :bulb::globe_with_meridians:

#RenewableAssignments #OpenEducation #InnovationInLearning #OEGCommunityMagic :rocket::sparkles:


Thanks for formulating and presenting your question here, Florence. I do remember when I first read of David Wiley’s concept of “Disposable Assignments” which made a clear case for more authentic types of assignments.

It’s been more refined and flipped from a negative to a positive as “Renewable Assessments”, and fits largely under the umbrella of Open Educational Practices – I usual refer to the Open Pedagogy Notebook co-edited by @actualham and @rjhangiani which is full of resources and examples (though the site now refers to the ongoing work at the Open Pedagogy Portal.

Perhaps useful it spectrum practices from “least to most open” often found in OER handbooks original published from Wiley and Hilton’s paper on Defining OER-Enabled Pedagogy

Criteria Distinguishing Different Kinds of Assignments for Disposable, Authentic, Constructivist, and Renewable assessments

So it is quite broad but to me most essentially is that these are assignments that are visible in the world and somehow contribute to public knowledge in topics that matter in the world, hence the many assignments related to editing Wikipedia and open education efforts tied to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

I will note that this was happening long before technology entered the scene. I wrote about a realization that a project I contributed top as a Geology student in the mid 1980s really was the same concept of student created content published as a textbook (technology open since it was published by NASA/US Government?)

I hope others share with Florence not only their thoughts about Renewable Assignments but also their own experiences, either as a student or a teacher.



Fully agree about the potential untapped benefits of renewable assignments. I have tried these with students and they are far more meaningful and authentic than assignments that are written for only one or two readers/viewers. They certainly promote students’ confidence and creativity. I’m still wondering about their value for learning when compared with traditional assignments - I’ve not yet collected enough data to support this claim. Renewable assignments also have to have clear parameters and be monitored though or you end up with something like this.

I agree too that this concept has been used long before technology but I think what might be different now is the addition of the creative commons license which David Wiley says is essential. Without this license, whatever is created cannot be 5R’d.

I’ve written an article with Mais Fatayer where we outlined some of the benefits for students and university teachers. We also shared Mais’ OER development model which arose out of her PhD and we showed how I adapted the model for my project. In my project, we held a workshop with early years teachers and in one session, we asked them what they considered to be the most challenging aspects of intercultural education and Reconciliation with First Nations Australians in their field. They gave us a collection of ideas, and our students then created OER to address those ideas. These were shared back with the early years educators who gave us feedback on the resources and the process repeated with the next lot of students. We did this three times with early years educators, and one time with educational psychologists on the topic of mental health. We asked practitioners what OER was needed, created the OER with students and then fed these back to the profession. What we found was that renewable assignments can be a great activity for connecting those in different levels of a profession as well for addressing real-world issues. Students were also super-proud of their OER and used these on job applications etc.

However, there are a few issues with renewable assignments in my experience and I’ve paired these with possible solutions:

  • Process may initially be time-intensive. It takes time to learn about open education as a movement, open ways of working and open assessment practices.
    🗹 Start small and build your knowledge up in phases/stages.
    🗹 Try and learn from others who have successfully run renewable assignments before. You don’t need to repeat our mistakes. :slight_smile:

  • The burden of decision-making can be intense if you’re an individual teacher running a renewable assessment.
    🗹 Work in teams
    🗹 Make the most of any open educational support at your institutions. Sometimes these are people in standalone or dedicated units, but they might also be found in the library, ed design or ICT, legal departments and copyright departments.

  • Is open always best?
    🗹 When I presented once on the topic of renewable assignments, an audience member raised the issue of “making students participate in open when they haven’t chosen to”. This wasn’t a problem in my own project as students completed their assignments and then after their grades had been released and the semester was well over, they were invited to contribute their work to an open publication. Not all students did, and that was fine. Cynthia Orozco spoke at an previous OEGlobal conference about ensuring that students can choose for themselves that they want to work openly. I remember the example she gave of a student from a low socioeconomic background who wanted to save his work for potential commercialisation or copyrighted publication later. For this reason, she advises that we use informed open pedagogy (Orozco, 2020) and that we understand the limits of working openly and benefits of working ‘closed’.

There are probably other issues but I’ve just realised how long this post is when I probably should have just posted a GIF to express my excitement at this topic. :blush:


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Renewable assignments is a great pedagogical strategy which gives life to students projects/assignments beyond their classroom. And I think this is the best method to encourage students create OER too! As in one of my trainings when I introduced this topic and gave example of David Wiley’s “An Open Education Reader” where he and his students collaborated and contributed. I remember this inspired @Malathi and she planned such kind a assignment for her Post Graduate students.

Here I agree with @Eseta -
“The burden of decision-making can be intense if you’re an individual teacher running a renewable assessment.” There are challenges /issues to encourage these type of assignments in place of traditional assignments.

Another project I should mention here, which really motivates me. I am a big fan of a We Like Sharing of TUDelft. With these kind of assignments I think we can not only motivate students to collaborate and contribute to OER, but we can see a real world impact. And it can also work towards help students build their digital skills (for example if the assignment is to write a blog post / edit Wiki article etc.) . There may be some challenges too! Like quality measures. As a teacher we have to make sure that they publish quality articles/work.

And in my personal experience, I always have a doubt that my assignments are considered renewable or not? :thinking: As in my trainings for example when I train my participants on using H5P (:star_struck: this is my favourite tool) I encourage them to publish one publicly as those activities can be reused/repurposed by others.

In short, I think the concept of #RenewableAssignments is the best way going forward to have quality content available publicly.

Thank you @Florankem for starting such an amazing topic.

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My heart sang when I saw this topic start @Florankem! Thank you!

I was reminded of some work I started back in 2016 (!) around a set of practices involving renewable assignments that I was calling “Renewable Experiential & Applied Learning” or REAL. (I could never resist trying to make a good acronym!)

In the first post, I defined REAL and started to explore how renewable assignments might connect into experiential and applied learning: “Take such a relationship one step further by adding renewable assignments to create a virtuous cycle of activity between the institution and organization. Students might begin their learning in the institution, taking classes that include renewable assignments to create learning resources specifically focused on knowledge and skills important to work happening at the partner organization. These assignments create an expanding body of works that become learning resources for future cohorts of students.”

In the second post, I explored the idea of REAL as a “virtuous circuit”, complete with a diagram on the back of a napkin.

In the third post, I expanded on the circuit idea, highlighting how renewable assignments act as “batteries” in these virtuous circuits: “renewable assignments—assignments where students produce meaningful, public works—store value like batteries, not only for their creators, but also for future learners and the community at large”

In the fourth post, I connected REAL to digital literacies and offered a quick recipe for a renewable assignment called a “Choral Handbook” (hattip to Mike Caulfield).

Other things interrupted the REAL train of thought and I’ve never taken it further, but I love to see renewable assignments continue to get attention and traction. I look forward to seeing what else shows up in this thread you started — I see there are already interesting posts!

We like that @sushumna likes We Like Sharing!

This is very timely as @bdelosarcos and I have been brainstorming an idea for Open Education Week – we are going to invite other people to run their own versions of the photo sharing effort, to have a regional/local influence

Are you interesting in organizing one?

Yes! If I plan something like posting a picture about what accessibility means to them? Shall I follow these steps?

  1. Create a Google form for faculty to upload a picture along with details like
  • Name
  • Instutution
  • Link to the Picture osted in flickr with #Welikesharing along with its description and License

(to faculty) Will that be the way to go forward? Please guide me @bdelosarcos @cogdog

Hi @sushumna, so happy that you are a fan of We Like Sharing! Even happier that you’d like to start your own photo bank! :heart_eyes:

Take a look at what @cogdog and myself shared in Will “We Like Sharing” be back for 2024?

In a nutshell, you need to open a flickr account; this will work as your repository. The form works as a channel to receive submissions, so you decide what information you need from your participants. As an example, this is the form that I will use for the photo competition at TU Delft this year:

When you start receiving photos, you need to upload them to your flickr account yourself, or get someone (a student, for example) to help you with that.

I’m not quite sure I understand your “Link to the Picture osted in flickr with #Welikesharing along with its description and License”… what do you mean?

Thank you @bdelosarcos , will surely try to do. So, in my post I asked is it necessary to take picture details and do we need to tag We Like Sharing! or can I go with the tag that I can think?

Thanks once again!

Eseta, thank you for sharing your valuable experience. I found it very insightful and informative. Your practical approach has given me a better understanding of the subject. I look forward to reaching out to you for further research. Thank you!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the continuous encouragement.

Thank you for your valuable contribution. I completely agree with your suggestion that Renewable Assignment is the most effective approach to motivate students to create Open Educational Resources (OER). In my opinion, this method is an excellent way to ensure that high-quality content is available for everyone to access.

I understand that some students may feel hesitant to share their work, as noted by @Eseta. However, if their work is carefully reviewed and approved before it is published, more students will be encouraged to participate in this process.

I look forward to reaching out to you for further research.

Interesting to see what you have done with REAL. I hope to see you take it further.

No @sushumna, you don’t need to tag We Like Sharing :slight_smile:

Details-wise, you’d want to credit each author correctly, so you need their name, and also which permissions they give others to reuse their photos (CC License). In WLS a brief description of the photo also helps towards accessibility (ALT description, for example).

This is great. I will try today to write up a few suggested ways to organize your own We Like Sharing.

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