How Open Pedagogy Helps Students and Teachers

This blog was adapted from the panel “Open Pedagogy: Who, What, Where, How, and Why” presented by the UNG Press at the 2019 USG Teaching & Learning Conference.

If you’ve visited the UNG Press blog before, you’ve heard us talk about open educational resources (OER). We’re a big supporter of OER, and we’re actually the leading distributor of OER textbooks in Georgia. But what do we mean when we say ‘OER’?

Open educational resources refers to teachings, resources, and tools that are freely available to use and share. Truly open materials allow people to modify or adapt the original materials. These materials have a specific license attached to it that outlines usage, distribution, and modification. In addition to being free to access, OERs follow the 5R’s: The work is free to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute.

What is Open Pedagogy?

Pedagogy is the practice of teaching and education. Using OERs as a foundation, open pedagogy transforms “disposable assignments” into collaborative works that are shared with others. The material is intended to be expanded upon by others. This includes teachers, but it can also include student contributions.

Open pedagogy shifts education from a one-direction discussion to a two-direction conversation. Assignments are designed to have students engage with the materials in a way that contributes to the academic environment. The examples below are all open pedagogy:

Barriers to Open Pedagogy

As with all good things, there are barriers to open pedagogy that must be considered.

First and foremost, assignments must use open resources as a foundation. Assignments won’t work if students (and teachers!) are unable to access the materials. Inaccessible materials could be due to the cost or even the format (a print-only textbook; an electronic resource, but one that’s behind a paywall).

Developing and adopting open assignments take time—a valuable and scarce resource in the academic world. In addition, many OERs rely on the internet, but electronic resources can be changed or removed entirely. When this happens, links can be broken and it takes time to find replacement sources that are both accessible and open. Teachers can find it overwhelming to reorganize their entire class structure just to implement open assignments.

Benefits of Open Pedagogy

Despite these barriers, a commitment to open pedagogy is an important aid to students’ success and educators’ sanity. The growing open pedagogy community means that more and more open materials are available—you don’t have to start from nothing!

Students respond well to open assignments. They appreciate the real-world application and the ability to participate in the larger academic conversation. Open assignments add value to the world and students’ academic development.

How have you developed open assignments in your classroom? Let us know below.

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About Jillian Murphy

Jillian Murphy is the Assistant Managing Editor of the UNG Press. She is a UNG alumna, class of 2016.

View all posts by Jillian Murphy →

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