Open Pedagogy

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Provide a definition for open pedagogy.
  • Describe the major components of a renewable assignment.
  • List three tools commonly used for the creation of renewable assignments.

Free access to materials is not the only benefit provided by using OER. Another aspect of OER that is commonly commended by instructors is the academic freedom that using openly-licensed content affords them in taking control of their classroom and engaging students in learning.

Attribution: “Open Dialogues: How to engage and support students in open pedagogies” by Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, University of British Columbia is licensed CC BY 3.0.

Innovation in the Classroom

The open licenses on OER allow instructors to adapt and integrate materials into their classes in new ways, incorporating topics of local interest or translating content into another language. Instructors who teach graduate-level courses or courses in niche subject areas are often drawn to OER for two reasons:

  1. They can adapt existing materials to meet the specific needs of their class.
  2. They can share created materials with other instructors in their subject area around the world.

Developing new open educational resources can be incredibly impactful, especially for instructors who feel they are underserved by the traditional textbook model and market.

Open Pedagogy

Using open educational resources in the classroom can make it easier for students to access and interact with course materials. However, another major aspect of Open Education asks not “what you teach with” but “how you teach.” The set of pedagogical practices that include engaging students in content creation and making learning accessible is known as open pedagogy.

As DeRosa & Jhangiani explain, “one key component of open pedagogy might be that it sees access, broadly writ, as fundamental to learning and to teaching, and agency as an important way of broadening that access.”[1] DeRosa & Robison expand on this topic, explaining that:

“students asked to interact with OER become part of a wider public of developers, much like an open-source community. We can capitalize on this relationship between enrolled students and a broader public by drawing in wider communities of learners and expertise to help our students find relevance in their work, situate their ideas into key contexts, and contribute to the public good.”[2]

Depending on the source you consult, open pedagogy might be a series of practices, a learning style, or a state of mind. For the sake of this chapter, open pedagogy is defined as a series of practices which involve engaging students in a course through the development, adaptation, or use of open educational resources.

One method of engaging in open pedagogy is the development of renewable assignments, assignments which students create for the purpose of sharing and releasing as OER. These can range in content from individual writing assignments in Wikipedia to collaboratively-written textbooks.[3][4] Wiley & Hilton compiled the criteria in Table 2 to distinguish between different kinds of assignments, from least to most open.[5] You can explore more examples of open pedagogy in action in the Open Pedagogy Notebook.

Table 2: Wiley & Hilton’s (2018) Criteria Distinguishing Different Kinds of Assignments
Student creates an artifact The artifact has value beyond supporting its creator’s learning The artifact is made public The artifact is openly licensed
Disposable assignments Yes No No No
Authentic assignments Yes Yes No No
Constructionist assignments Yes Yes Yes No
Renewable assignments Yes Yes Yes Yes

Tools for implementing renewable assignments

  • One of the tools commonly used for open pedagogy projects is allows users to annotate websites and online readings easily. Using can let students engage with your course readings and each other in a more interactive way than discussion boards might allow.
  • Wikibooks: Wikibooks and WikiEdu are both excellent tools for working with students to create a text. Alternatively, short student projects, such as annotated bibliographies, can be done via Wikipedia by adding context and citations to short or underdeveloped articles. This not only gives students the opportunity to get experience explaining concepts for a public audience, it also increases the available public knowledge on your course’s topic!
  • Google Drive: Google Drive provides a variety of tools that can be used for collaboration on text-based projects as well as slideshows and spreadsheets.
  • Youtube: Student-made instructional videos or class projects can be incredibly useful to showcase for future students in the class or to use as supplemental materials for explaining difficult concepts.

Check Your Understanding

Brainstorm some renewable assignments. Do you already assign work that could be defined as renewable?

  1. DeRosa, Robin and Jhangiani, Rajiv. "Open Pedagogy and Social Justice." Digital Pedagogy Lab. June 2, 2017.
  2. DeRosa, Robin and Robison, Scott. "From OER to Open Pedagogy: Harnessing the Power of Open." In Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science, edited by Rajiv Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener, 115–124. London: Ubiquity Press, 2017. DOI:
  3. Villeneuve, Cassidy. "Editing Wikipedia in the Classroom: Individualized Open Pedagogy at Scale." Open Pedagogy Notebook. May 17, 2018.
  4. DeRosa, Robin. "Student-Created Open “Textbooks” as Course Communities." Open Pedagogy Notebook. March 18, 2018.
  5. Wiley, David and Hilton III, John. "Defining OER-Enabled Pedagogy." The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 19, no. 4 (2018).


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The OER Starter Kit Copyright © 2019 by Abbey K. Elder is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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