Using OpenPedagogy

I’m pretty new to OER and OpenPedagogy; I’m a customizer whose moving into creating my own content. This past semester, I spent a lot of time reconsidering how I teach rhetoric in Freshman Composition. There are about 30 years between me and the students. I like to think about it as a jump in the alphabet from X to Z in which I spent a lot of time thinking “why:”

Why don’t students read? Why don’t they like the assignments? Why don’t they value writing when all they do is write?

Open Pedagogy seems like a natural fit to freshman comp because how can I set a curriculum that requires close interaction when I don’t even know the people who are going to be doing the interaction. And I really don’t know much about Gen Z except that they are not like me.

So this semester, I developed handouts that help students do a variety of rhetorical analysis on the things that matter to them: youtube videos, songs, tv/film/streamed series, comedy, ads, even game commentary. (Seriously, have you ever listened to Troy Aikman commentate on an Eagles game? So biased.)

I got better writing when students are emotionally invested in what they are investigating. At week four, I gave the class a bundle of handouts all looking at the different pieces of pop culture that someone might interact with. I asked them to rank which type of “text” they work with the most to the one they work with the least. Then I asked them which paper they think would be the easiest, the most interesting, the hardest, and the most rewarding to do.

From there, students considered their data and then created the order in which they would do these papers. Since they were all rhetorical analyses, I could fold in the concepts no matter who was doing what paper. Students also worked in groups with people who were and were not using the same kind of text. We used students’ texts as examples in class.

I also had a backup list of texts in case someone didn’t know what to do. I think I will ask the class to help me create the backup list. We spent a lot of time doing metacognitive activities to check students’ understanding and progress. Next semester, I will see if I can get some of these questions and writing prompts from students.

I’m just beginning Open Pedagogy, so I’m scaling up slowly and I will adjust as necessary. But OpenPed has made teaching a lot more fun.

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