Defining Open Pedagogy

My definition of open pedagogy:

  1. One created collaboratively with students using the learning outcomes; this means that students add their own learning outcomes, help create assignments to tweak existing assignments to make them relatable to the students who have to complete them.
  2. One that fosters student engagement because it utilizes the concept of social learning and the notion of community. This means using electronic means and multimedia platforms to share work.
  3. One that students can see has a practical use outside of classes.
  4. One that reuses, revises, remixes, redistribute (Hegarty)
  5. One that is more “problem posing” (Freire) and offers open questions.


I’m conflicted on the idea of a completely open pedagogy. One the one hand, I see its use, I see its benefits, but on the other hand, we just got through Middle States Reaccreditation. Assessment is no joke and adherence to the learning outcomes was part of that assessment. I have to work within the confines of a structure, but that doesn’t mean the structure needs to be confining.

I could show the students the LOs and ask them for their interpretation. Then we could add to the required LOs. This, I hope, is one way to create student buy-in. The other elephant in the room is my 0 level students who need direction. To completely decenter the curriculum and place the creation of it on them may cause cognitive dissonance. These are not strong students to start with; they have a horrible retention rate. So, while I want to create buy-in, I don’t want them to come into a class where they start from the ground and build up.

Access is also an issue. Even today, I had a student tell me that his essay was handwritten because he doesn’t have a computer at home. I’m not an advocate of forcing students to write on their phones, especially older students who don’t have an enmeshed relationship with technology.

I need to put a spin on this that will work for this community, these classrooms and these students. I also need to read more, preferably from authors in the US who have managed to work with proscribed LOs.

For now, I’m putting my reading notes here. There’s a link to the article for anyone who wants context.


Robin DeRosa: Extreme Makeover Pedagogy Edition


  1. Her OpenPed had some problems, although on paper, they looked good: putting the onus on students to help create OpenPed meant chaos because he used “open” online platforms for communication and coursework. Telling students to “play around in there” meant different things to different people
    1. My thoughts:
      1. Vague instructions require defining
      2. Access to technology is varied outside of the institution – using the LMS platform “equalizes” the experience because there is easy access and support on campus.
    2. Implications for teaching:
      1. Some structure needs to be in place so students can build on it.
      2. Never assume everyone has equal access to the internet and to technology
    3. Quote:
      1. “Basic lesson– and you already know this– the “digital native” thing remains a garbage idea, and if you care about access issues, you will need to meet each student where she is in terms of comfort with tech. That takes time, and labor, and it may not be practical or feasible for you given your salary or circumstances.”
        1. I have to ask myself about the labor involved, especially when half of my class lacks even basic knowledge of computers. Many of my students work on their phones or use phones to access technology. This makes sharing the experience difficult. Do I want to spend time working on the differences between apps and software? How much time will it take away from writing instruction? But at the end of the day, students will need software knowledge to be good employees. Maybe this won’t work for 0 level students; it might work for tech writing.
  2. Collaborative learning outcomes – she has that flexibility. I don’t.
    1. My thoughts:
      1. I have to use what I have.
      2. I can build on that.
      3. The LOs are vague enough that I can help students interpret them so they can add student driven LOs that will help them reach the goals set out by the college’s LOs.
      4. Just like before, I can use the learning outcomes as a place to start and a place to add to so students can get what they need out of the course.
      5. During the first week, then, I need to make space to set ground rules for the class and to discuss what other learning outcomes students want.
      6. This may help create investment in the class.
  3. Student generated assignments, et al.
    1. I get what he’s trying to do. I also get that I work at a community college with learners who are not in the top 30% of their class and are inexperienced. So I think I could work with this if I meet them halfway – provide some basic structural elements that can be added to so I can meet their needs, assuming they know what they need.

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