What is Open Pedagogy?

CCCOER defines Open Pedagogy as …

Open Pedagogy encompasses a set of theories, practices, and philosophies that centers students in their learning experience through the use of open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP). The 5Rs (reuse, redistribute, revise, remix, retain) enabled by open licensing provide both instructors and their students greater access to educational materials but more significantly the ability to adapt the materials to meet their local needs and share publicly if desired.

BCcampus defines Open Pedagogy as …

Open pedagogy, also known as open educational practices (OEP), is the use of open educational resources (OER) to support learning, or the open sharing of teaching practices with a goal of improving education and training at the institutional, professional, and individual level.

The English Wikipedia Open education practices article explains …

Open educational practices (OEP) are part the broader open education landscape,[1] including the openness movement in general. It is a term with multiple layers and dimensions and is often used interchangeably with open pedagogy or open practices.[2] OEP represent teaching and learning techniques that draw upon open and participatory technologies and high-quality open educational resources (OER) in order to facilitate collaborative and flexible learning.[3][4] Because OEP emerged from the study of OER, there is a strong connection between the two concepts.[5] OEP, for example, often, but not always, involve the application of OER to the teaching and learning process.[6] Open educational practices aim to take the focus beyond building further access to OER and consider how in practice, such resources support education and promote quality and innovation in teaching and learning.[7][8] The focus in OEP is on reproduction/understanding, connecting information, application, competence, and responsibility rather than the availability of good resources.

For more insight, explore CCCOER’s introduction to Open Pedagogy

What do YOU think :interrobang:

Click on the Screenshot 2022-08-16 at 12.10.33 to share your thoughts, ideas, resources, and experiences:

  • What does Open Pedagogy mean to you?
  • Why is it important?
  • How has practicing Open Pedagogy changed things for your students or colleagues?
  • What is the future of Open Pedagogy?

New to Open Education? :wave:

Curious to explore? Start here!

To get you started, below are interviews conducted initially for the Year Of Open in 2017 with Open Education contributors from around the world. Many of these opinions are still relevant.

Robert Schuwer

2017: Professor OER at Fontys University of Applied Sciences,
Eindhoven, the Netherlands

Twitter: @fagottissimo

What is Open Pedagogy?
Open Pedagogy to me seems a concept that is not defined rigorously yet. Common in all opinions is connecting the outside world to the educational process in institutions in an open way, using available open tools to realize that, creating and reusing OER by both teachers and students, realizing an active form of learning. I use an adapted form of the description of Hegarty: Attributes of Open Pedagogy: A Model for Using Open Educational Resources. Hegarty defines 8 attributes that should all be present in teaching to call this an open pedagogy. Examples are Sharing ideas and resources, using peer review and learners generating content. But I think that situations that adhere to fewer of these attributes are still connecting the outside world in a meaningful way to education. I therefore consider them also forms of open pedagogy.

Maha Bali

2017: PhD, Associate Professor of Practice
Center for Learning and Teaching, The American University in Cairo

Twitter: @Bali_Maha

What is Open Pedagogy Anyway?
When we call anything “open” we need to clarify: What are we opening, how are we opening it, for whom, and why?

Open pedagogy is a slightly less well-defined term than, say, Open Access or Open Educational Resources (OERs). UNESCO defines OERs as “any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can 2legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them” (Emphasis in original). OERs can support teachers and/or learners, and can reduce/remove textbook costs or provide additional learning material – but they can do more (see the section on content under my understanding of open pedagogy).

People who care about open access are making their journal articles openly available (free to access not necessarily using an open license) so that anyone in the world can access them if they have internet (even if they don’t have a library subscription) and redistribute them without permission (usually). Some people will do this for instrumental reasons (to get better citations for example) or for social justice reasons (because they want to reduce inequality in access to knowledge, or because they feel if authors and reviewers don’t get paid, then readers should not have to pay). Open scholarship takes this one step further and involves a combination of open access, open education and networked participation (see Veletsianos & Kimmons 2013; Czerniewicz 2016). For example as scholars make their work more accessible to non-experts via blogging, or interact via Twitter with others. See also this video on different approaches to “open”.

But open pedagogy? It can be any combination of those things. It’s a person who teaches and makes much of what they do open, including possibly:

  • A focus on content. This may be anything from committing to use OER material, textbooks and OA articles (aiming primarily to reduce costs for students). That model can be complicated to apply if insufficient high quality materials exist for one’s subject matter, or if choosing this route implies lack of content from marginalized populations. A more pedagogically-focused extreme would involve having students curate their own content or create their own textbook (for example, what Laura Gibbs calls “untextbook”, Kris Shaffer calls “critical textbook”, and Kate Bowles calls “content, it’s us” after the rhizomatic learning work of Dave Cormier, and what I call in my practice: content-independent teaching). The latter aims to empower students to construct their own knowledge, but may need some scaffolding depending on students’ incoming critical digital literacies, and again runs the risk of missing valuable material if it is not easily available online, because “the internet is like having a classroom made of glass where students can look outside easily – but outside needs to be rich enough for that exercise to be useful”. For example, if you care that students are exposed to diverse perspectives or authors, this may not automatically happen without scaffolding.

  • A focus on teaching. Some people make their syllabus public for other teachers to learn from and remix. Some people write openly about their teaching either after-the-fact to reflect, or beforehand as they are brainstorming and soliciting feedback from other educators. Others make their syllabus open to their own students and give students opportunities to comment on or even modify the syllabus (see the liquefied syllabus assignment). Some people even have students contribute tutorial videos or or assignment or test banks to be used in the same and future courses (see ds106 for assignment banks; see Rajiv Jhangiani’s work for open test banks via groups of faculty and more radically, having students create questions).

  • A focus on student work being public , for example via blogging openly (listen to Robin DeRosa’s take on it). Some are cognizant of 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. The purpose of this is for students to use their learning in more authentic and meaningful ways, and sometimes to interact with others in the world beyond the classroom’s walls. Crucially, taking students out in the open means exposing them to certain risks beyond the safe rooms of the classroom, and those of us who do this need to be aware of differing vulnerabilities of some students and to recognize that some may not be safe working in the open.

  • 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).

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

Not every open pedagogy practice achieves both of these. Examples that emphasize the social justice orientation are feminist Wikipedia editathons. Examples that may or may not empower students are those involving students having a say in their syllabus, content or assignments/tests – because this may end up empowering some students but not others. One of the important questions of open education is how institutional structures may limit the degree of openness possible. A good article on this is Andrew Rikard’s “Do I Own My Domain if You Grade It?”, written while he was an undergraduate student at Davidson College. Other important critiques are how working in the open requires us to be cognizant of how student data can lose some of its privacy and be monetized by commercial providers of social media.
Suzan Koseoglu and I have gone one step further and said that someone who embraces openness as attitude or worldview can be consider their own “self as OER“. It’s someone who embraces not just open products like OERs or open access articles, but open processes and are themselves either open to change, or open to making themselves vulnerable in the open for the purpose of supporting others. Having said this, we must again recognize that “we are not equally fragile” online.

If open pedagogy is something you are interested in exploring, here are some resources that can support your exploration:

I think the one thing most open pedagogues will agree on is that open pedagogy is constantly evolving, and how we understand its benefits and limitations changes the more we practice it and explore different facets of it.

Open Pedagogy Hangout, Recorded April 24, 2017

Heather M. Ross (B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed.)

2017: Educational Developer (Digital Pedagogies)
University of Saskatchewan

What is open pedagogy
Open pedagogy takes OER as a jumping-off point for rethinking the relationship between teachers, students, and knowledge. 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. Teachers and students become learners together, and “content” becomes a dynamic, always changing category with which we engage rather than a stable set of facts to be mastered. (DeRosa)

Rajiv Jhangiani

2017: University Teaching Fellow
@KwantlenU; Senior Open Ed Research & Advocacy Fellow
@BCOpenText; Faculty Workshop Facilitator, @open_textbooks

Twitter: @thatpsychprof

What is Open Pedagogy?
The boundaries of what constitutes open pedagogy are constantly being expanded, but my take is that open pedagogy refers to innovative teaching and learning practices that are only made possible through the application of open licenses. Open pedagogy is most often manifested in the form of “renewable” course assignments in which students create, revise, or remix open educational resources (OER). This might, for example, involve students revising Wikipedia articles, localizing their open textbook, creating and making publicly available openly-licensed instructional videos, or even authoring ancillary resources to support an open textbook. However, open pedagogy would also encompass instructional practices such as open and transparent course design and development (e.g., see the model adopted by the OERu).

Dr. Arthur Gill Green

Affiliate Assistant Professor, UBC Geography


What is Open Pedagogy?
At its core the term “open pedagogy” expresses the aspiration to improve learning processes through more open teaching practices. So, I believe open pedagogy encapsulates the theories and the innovative, applied strategies that support that aspiration.

That being said, I am not sure that open pedagogy can be neatly defined. There are, for example, at least two contemporary understandings of open pedagogy. One contemporary definition focuses on the use of openly-licensed content in tandem with open, effective teaching strategies, while another focuses on a more general philosophy of openness in all elements of the teaching process including open planning, open products, and open post hoc reflection. As well, in the 1960s and 1970s the term open pedagogy was also used to refer (interchangeably with “open education” and open classrooms) to learner-centered teaching approaches that were inspired by theorists such as John Dewey and Jean Piaget .

While each of the above definitions of open pedagogy has radical value in that they each advance the core aspiration of open pedagogy, I find the greatest fidelity with and utility in David Wiley’s definition of open pedagogy as the use of open education resources (OER as defined by the 5Rs) in tandem with open, effective teaching strategies.

David Wiley

How Is Open Pedagogy Different?

I feel like words should mean something. Especially the word “open.”
Read the full blog by David Wiley at https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/4943.

Devon Ritter

2017: Director of Education, Saylor Academy

Perspectives on Open Pedagogy (2017)
As I recently learned, the term “Open Pedagogy” has been used for decades. Lately, there have been numerous attempts to try and define it, and those discussions have led to some really interesting clashes in point of view among educators and open advocates. For the purposes of this post, rather than try to come up with a new definition that I think everyone should use, I’m simply going to describe the first thing that came to my mind when thinking of “open pedagogy.” And giving credit where credit is due, this idea is certainly not a wholly original one, as was likely in my mind in the first place as a result of reading an idea previously shared by my colleague Steve Phillips.

My immediate thought when considering, “What is Open Pedagogy?” was, the ability for learners to shape and take ownership of their own education . While this is a very learner-centric view that some might not necessarily associate with the “practice of teaching” (and therefore maybe not even as a pedagogy of any kind), I do think that there is still a large role for teachers and educators in supporting this view of open pedagogy that may place it in the same realm of other models. I also believe there is a need for OER and other aspects of Open Education to enable individual learners to actually practice open pedagogy in this way.

Here then is a short, non-comprehensive list of things that I think are needed to support this idea of open pedagogy in practice—which I hope, and am quite sure, is taking place somewhere.

Active observation on the part of instructors and institutions
Learners are never going to be able to fully shape and own their educational experiences and journeys if they are being lead lockstep down a path. This is not to say that some students don’t want and need more direct guidance than others, but simply that for those learners who seek to actively participate in open pedagogy, there needs to be a similar level of restraint and willingness on the part of educators to be open to the idea that a student may be able to find a viable alternate route from point A to point B when attempting to learn and demonstrate their understanding of something. In such cases, the role of the educator should be to observe, monitor, and assist when needed, but otherwise to give learners the freedom to make important teaching and learning decisions for themselves.

Beyond just a willingness to accept that students might be able to put together, say, an alternate assignment, reading list, syllabus, or perhaps a full course of study, educators who support this idea of open pedagogy should actively encourage this behavior from their students. However, encouragement does not really suffice if not coupled with some level of support and guidance. This leads to the next needed item…

Open Pedagogies
Yes, in order for teachers and learners to effectively engage in the practice of “Open Pedagogy”, some “Open” pedagogies must be available. While it is easily conceivable that students will be able to develop their own learning plan (and potentially learn much more in the process by doing this), it is less apparent that they will be able to do this without some models to work from. The most direct way that an individual can facilitate this is to, of course, make their own teaching plans for a subject (which may not have originally been designed to be taught using an open pedagogy) open and available to any and all students to reuse and change to suit their learning styles, interests, and needs. Even better would be to include access to those pedagogical models and influences that led to the creation of that teaching plan.

In this way, an individual learner will have a better sense of how a teacher may have designed their course to support students, or where the teacher’s style does not fit their own learning style. Using this information, learners will be more prepared to make choices that could positively affect their own learning outcomes. In an ideal world, students practicing this form of open pedagogy will also have access and permission to build off of the pedagogies of countless educators beyond those that they interact with on a day-to-day basis. And, for those of you who enjoying getting meta, imagine a scenario where students adapt the open open pedagogies of those students who came before them!

For individual educators and institutions as a whole, another important aspect of being open in this regard is being very clear about the expected outcomes of a learning path. Learning for learning’s sake is noble and beneficial, but when their are financial strings attached (like tuition, room and board, and time spent not earning a wage), learners should be able to point to something tangible that they’ll get when finished. When those goals can be articulated—such as with the issuing of college credit or a degree—there are likely already going to be some necessary and articulated outcomes. For open pedagogy to work, students need to know what those outcomes are and how they were decided upon, or else they have little chance to design a learning plan that will prepare them appropriately.

Photo via Billie Grace Ward, modified | CC BY 2.0