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Assignment Design: Open Pedagogy

Overview

"When faculty use OERs, we aren’t just saving a student money on textbooks: we are directly impacting that student’s ability to enroll in, persist through, and successfully complete a course."

 –Robin DeRosa & Rajiv Jhangiani, "Open Pedagogy"

Open pedagogy is the practice of engaging with students as creators of information rather than simply consumers of it. It's a form of experiential learning in which students demonstrate understanding through the act of creation. The products of open pedagogy are student created and openly licensed so that they may live outside of the classroom in a way that has an impact on the greater community.

Open projects frequently result in the creation of open educational resources (OER). OER are free teaching and learning materials that are licensed to allow for revision and reuse. They can be fully self-contained textbooks, videos, quizzes, learning modules, and more.

sketchnotes drawing representating students adding value to the world through Open Pedagogy

Open pedagogy is a high-impact practice that empowers students by providing them an opportunity to engage in information creation through the use of renewable assignments. As creators of information, students in these courses gain a greater understanding of the rights and responsibilities associated with information ownership so they may make informed decisions about their own intellectual property. Practitioners of open pedagogy embrace collaboration, student agency, and authentic audiences while recognizing the differences in privilege and progress that impact how students balance the benefits of sharing and a need for privacy. This open educational practice challenges traditional teaching roles and has the power to transform the educational experience for both teachers and students.

Strategies

Strategies from Open Pedagogy Notebook:

Adapt or remix OERs with your students.

Even the simple act of adding problem sets or discussion questions to an existing open textbook will help contribute to knowledge, to the quality of available OERs, and to your students’ sense of doing work that matters. The adaptation of the open textbook Project Management for Instructional Designers by successive cohorts of graduate students at Brigham Young University provides an excellent example of this approach.

Build OERs with your students.

Though students may be beginners with most of the content in your course, they are often more adept than you at understanding what beginning students need in order to understand the material. Asking students to help reframe and re-present course content in new and inventive ways can add valuable OERs to the commons while also allowing for the work that students do in courses to go on to have meaningful impact once the course ends. Consider the examples of the open textbook Environmental Science Bites written by undergraduate students at the Ohio State University or the brief explainer videos created by Psychology students around the world and curated by the NOBA Project.

Teach your students how to edit Wikipedia articles.

By adding new content, revising existing content, adding citations, or adding images, students can (with the support of the Wiki Education Foundation) make direct contributions to one of the most popular public repositories for information. Indeed, more than 22,000 students already have, including medical students at the University of California San Francisco. More than developing digital literacy and learning how to synthesize, articulate, and share information, students engage with and understand the politics of editing, including how “truth” is negotiated by those who have access to the tools that shape it.

Facilitate student-created and student-controlled learning environments.

The Learning Management System (Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard, etc.) generally locks students into closed environments that prevent sharing and collaboration outside of the class unit; it perpetuates a surveillance model of education in which the instructor is able to consider metrics that students are not given access to; and it presupposes that all student work is disposable (as all of it will be deleted when the new course shell is imported for the next semester). Initiatives such as Domain of One’s Own enable students to build “personal cyberinfrastructures" where they can manage their own learning, control their own data, and design home ports that can serve as sites for collaboration and conversation about their work. Students can choose to openly license the work that they post on these sites, thereby contributing OERs to the commons; they can also choose not to openly license their work, which is an exercising of their rights and perfectly in keeping with the ethos of Open Pedagogy. If students create their own learning architectures, they can (and should) control how public or private they wish to be, how and when to share or license their work, and what kinds of design, tools, and plug-ins will enhance their learning. It is important to point out here that open is not the opposite of private.

Encourage students to apply their expertise to serve their community.

Partner with nonprofit organizations to create opportunities for students to apply their research or marketing skills. Or ask them to write (and submit for publication) op-ed pieces to share evidence-based approaches to tackling a local social problem. Demonstrate the value of both knowledge application and service by scaffolding their entry into public scholarship.

Engage students in public chats with authors or experts.

Platforms such as Twitter can help engage students in scholarly and professional conversations with practitioners in their fields. This is another way that students can contribute to—not just consume—knowledge, and it shifts learning into a dialogic experience. In addition, if students are sharing work publicly, they can also use social media channels to drive mentors, teachers, peers, critics, experts, friends, family, and the public to their work for comment. Opening conversations about academic and transdisciplinary work—both student work and the work of established scholars and practitioners—is, like contributing to OERs, a way to grow a thriving knowledge commons.

Build course policies, outcomes, assignments, rubrics, and schedules of work collaboratively with students.

Once we involve students in creating or revising OERs or in shaping learning architectures, we can begin to see the syllabus as more of a collaborative document, co-generated at least in part with our students. Can students help craft course policies that would support their learning, that they feel more ownership over? Can they add or revise course learning outcomes in order to ensure the relevancy of the course to their future paths? Can they develop assignments for themselves and/or their classmates, and craft rubrics to accompany them to guide an evaluative process? Can they shape the course schedule according to rhythms that will help maximize their efforts and success?

Let students curate course content.

Your course is likely split into a predictable number of units (fourteen, for example) to conform to the academic calendar of the institution within which the course is offered. We would probably all agree that such segmenting of our fields is somewhat arbitrary; there is nothing ontological about Introduction to Psychology being fourteen weeks long (or spanning twenty-eight textbook chapters, etc.). And when we select a novel for a course on postcolonial literature or a lab exercise for Anatomy and Physiology, we are aware that there are a multitude of other good options for each that we could have chosen. We can involve students in the process of curating content for courses, either by offering them limited choices between different texts or by offering them solid time to curate a future unit more or less on their own (or in a group) as a research project. The content of a course may be somewhat prescribed by accreditation or field standards, but within those confines, we can involve students in the curation process, increasing the level of investment they have with the content while helping them acquire a key twenty-first century skill.

Ask critical questions about “open.”

When you develop new pathways based on Open Pedagogy, pay special attention to the barriers, challenges, and problems that emerge. Be explicit about them, honest about them, and share them widely with others working in Open Education so that we can work together to make improvements. Being an open educator in this fashion is especially crucial if we wish to avoid digital redlining, creating inequities (however unintentionally) through the use of technology. Ask yourself: Do your students have access to broadband at home? Do they have the laptops or tablets they need to easily access and engage with OERs? Do they have the supports they need to experiment creatively, often for the first time, with technology tools? Do they have the digital literacies they need to ensure as much as is possible their safety and privacy online? Do you have a full understanding of the terms of service of the EdTech tools you are using in your courses? As you work to increase the accessibility of your own course, are you also evaluating the tools and technologies you are using to ask how they help or hinder your larger vision for higher education?

Resources

Open Pedagogy in OER Webinar Series with Will Cross

  • Session 1: Introducing Open Pedagogy: From Open Resources to Equitable, Student-Centered Practices, March 8, 2022.
  • Session 2: Implementing Open Pedagogy: Outreach and Advocacy for Developing Faculty Partnerships,  March 15, 2022.

Open Pedagogy Notebook - http://openpedagogy.org/

This website is designed to serve as a resource for educators interested in learning more about Open Pedagogy. We invite you to browse through the examples, which include both classroom-tested practices and budding ideas, and to consider contributing examples of your own experiments with open pedagogy.

Open Pedagogy Project Roadmap - https://oeproadmap.psu.edu/

Open pedagogy projects can be multi-faceted, single-semester or multi-year, and can result in any number of student authored/created/directed scholarly or non-scholarly outputs. These outputs could include, for example, a public-facing blog post, translating a Wikipedia page, creating a digital scholarly edition, socially annotating, revising an open textbook, and/or contributing to crowd-sourced transcription projects. The Open Pedagogy Project Roadmap is a module-based resource that will assist you in planning, finding support for, sharing, and sustaining your open pedagogy project, regardless of its size or scope. The Roadmap will take you through four modules which will guide you through the 5 Ss of open pedagogy projects: Scope, Support, Students, Sharing, and Sustaining.

"OER-Enabled Pedagogy" - http://openedgroup.org/oer-enabled-pedagogy

Guidance and examples of how to integrate Open Pedagogy into assignments and learning activities from the Open Education Group.

"Open Pedagogy: Examples of Class Activities" - http://blogs.ubc.ca/chendricks/2017/10/08/open-pedagogy-examples/

In this blog post, Christina Hendricks shares examples of Open Pedagogy, as well as the value she has found in embracing Open Pedagogy.

"Open Educational Resources: Open Pedagogy Examples" https://libguides.uta.edu/openped/examples

This guide from UTA includes examples of open pedagogy assessments, a folder of additional examples, and tools for teaching attributions and open licensing.

Bibliography

Clifton, Alexis, and Hoffman, Kimberly Davies. Open Pedagogy Approaches: Faculty, Library, and Student Collaborations. Geneseo, NY: Milne Library Publishing, 2020.

The term “open” has been heavily used in the past decade or more and can come with multiple interpretations: open access, open source, open textbook, open pedagogy … In general, “open” within these contexts implies unlimited, free, public access with the ability to manipulate and transform the educational content.Within the educational realm, we see even greater nuances of “open” in terms of how the access to and adapted creation work together. Our book aims to shed light on multiple definitions and how they are applied in a variety of learning experiences.Chapters provide case studies of library-teaching faculty collaborations that explore the intersecting roles and desired outcomes that each partner contributes toward student learning in an open environment.

Mays, Elizabeth, ed. A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students. The Rebus Community for Open Textbook Creation, 2017.

A handbook for faculty interested in practicing open pedagogy by involving students in the making of open textbooks, ancillary materials, or other Open Educational Resources.

Shuttleworth, Kate. 2020. "OJS in the Online Classroom: Engaging Students with Course Journals," Public Knowledge Project. Retrieved from https://pkp.sfu.ca/2020/06/15/ojs-in-the-online-classroom-engaging-students-with-course-journals/

As post-secondary instructors adapt to providing online instruction for the foreseeable future, many are looking for new ways to engage with students in an online environment. Course journal projects, using Open Journal Systems (OJS), can offer one such opportunity.

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  • Last Updated: Mar 15, 2022 3:34 PM
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