Opening up Open Pedagogy

Many thanks to Maha Bali for organising tonight’s Open Pedagogy Hangout. Maha has curated a number of blog posts about open pedagogy and also started a Google doc to collect notes, links, etc: Thanks to all who have blogged and shared their thoughts. I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate and looking forward to tonight’s conversation very much.

I’ve blogged recently about my understanding of open pedagogy and OEP (considered together and separately) and also about how I’ve defined OEP (inclusive of open pedagogy) in the course of my PhD research. As I’ve explored both the history and current practice of open education, I’ve found it useful to note two broad strands of definitions of OEP/open pedagogy: those focused on OER (and the 5Rs) and broader definitions. I’m re-reading some of this work in preparation for tonight’s hangout. In reading some of my notes on the earlier open education literature, I’ve been drawn to particular ideas and quotes — not complete, not comprehensive, but catching my interest today. I share them here. (Please note: not all of these are available open source, but I will be happy to share PDFs with you if you’d like them.)

Postscript: I’ve made two updates to this post, 3 hours after first publishing it. Firstly, I’ve added a link to the Open practices: briefing paper (Beetham, et al. 2012) — a key source with respect to OER and OEP, mistakenly omitted in my haste earlier. Secondly, the list shared here is a selection of work published between 1975 and 2012. I’ve omitted later references as I don’t wish to pre-empt current thinking about this topic by those participating in tonight’s discussion and/or blogging about the topic this week. For current thinking by all engaged in this discussion, please see Maha’s curated list of blog posts and the Google doc — links at the top of this post. With thanks, as always, to Myles Horton and Paulo Freire: “We make the road by walking“.

Open education, open learning, open pedagogy, OER, OEP…

Open learning is an imprecise phrase to which a range of meanings can be, and is, attached. It eludes definition. But as an inscription to be carried in procession on a banner, gathering adherents and enthusiasms, it has great potential. For its very imprecision enables it to accommodate many different ideas and aims. (MacKenzie, 1975 in Keegan, 1990)

Open education in America is a manifest part of the liberal politics and the reform rhetoric that helped define an era in our recent history. The open classroom approach “arrived” in this country in the late sixties. As methodology, we primarily imported it from England, known widely as the Leicestershire Model, or the Integrated Day, or simply the informal classroom. A series of articles in 1967 by Joseph Featherstone in The New Republic ably publicized the innovative British practices, and educators like Lillian Weber made notable efforts to analyze and adapt them to American settings. (Mai, 1978)

Part of the problem of definition stems from the careless, if evocative, use of the term open by educators and the popular press to describe the wide variety of educational innovations which proliferated at the same time as open education classrooms were being developed. (Noddings & Enright, 1983)

Definition of open learning: increased flexibility and user choice over all aspects of the learning process. (Lewis, 1992)

The approach of the authors is based on the pedagogy of dialogue of Paulo Freire. Its aim is to point out some indications to establish a digital inclusion that transcends utilitarian limits and a merely operational access to machines and programs. That is, an inclusion that is also social, cultural, and political. (Corney, 2006)

New literacy practices are aligned with an “open pedagogy” that embraces collaborative knowledge creation, participatory education models, experiential practices, mentoring, and apprenticeships. (Corney, 2006)

The expanding global collection of open educational resources… contribute to making education more accessible, especially where money for learning materials is scarce. They also nourish the kind of participatory culture of learning, creating, sharing and cooperation that rapidly changing knowledge societies need. However, open education is not limited to just open educational resources. It also draws upon open technologies that facilitate collaborative, flexible learning and the open sharing of teaching practices that empower educators to benefit from the best ideas of their colleagues. It may also grow to include new approaches to assessment, accreditation and collaborative learning. (Cape Town Open Declaration, 2007)

The historically more certain boundaries – where information and communications were controlled by universities – is being lost. Institutions are struggling to make sense of how to operate in this changed and permeable space. The mind sets and frameworks of references that we have used hitherto are no longer adequate. Many boundaries have blurred: virtual and physical localities, professional and social lives, formal and informal learning, knowledge consumption and production. (Armstrong & Franklin, 2008)

A participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby experienced participants pass along knowledge to novices. In a participatory culture, members also believe their contributions matter and feel some degree of social connection with one another. (Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton, & Robison, 2009)

Open pedagogy’ approaches involving collaborative, co-productive and more ‘equal’ roles between ‘teacher’ and ‘learner’ than hitherto implemented are both possible and made more effective by social networking technologies and social networking environments. (Cullen, Cullen, Hayward, & Maes, 2009)

While acknowledging the potential value of content, we contend, however, that it is the opening up of educational processes, which we are calling Open Pedagogy (OP) enabled by the Web 2.0 technologies that are set to play the more transformational role in the collaboration between students and lecturers… Even if the technological infrastructure exists to allow materials to be a button-click away, unless lecturers are willing to share their materials or pedagogy, the technological affordance will remain unrealised… the sharing of the pedagogical process, what we see as ‘open pedagogy’. (Hodgkinson-Williams & Gray, 2009)

The concept of ‘open pedagogy’ (Hodgkinson-Williams & Gray 2009) is in line with Conole’s definition of ‘open educational practices’ (OEP)… “the set of activities and support around the creation, use and repurposing of Open Educational Resources. It also includes the contextual settings within which these practices occur”… The move to incorporate ‘practice’ in the definition signifies the acknowledgement that content disembedded from its context is difficult to adapt without some understanding of the pedagogical and epistemological assumptions underlying the creation of the resource. The latter are of particular import as different views on what is considered ‘worthwhile knowledge’ are likely to increase with the ready access to materials from different parts of the world. (Hodgkinson-Williams, 2010)

Open teaching is described as the facilitation of learning experiences that are open, transparent, collaborative, and social. Open teachers are advocates of a free and open knowledge society, and support their students in the critical consumption, production, connection, and synthesis of knowledge through the shared development of learning networks. (Couros, 2010)

OEP are defined as practices which support the (re)use and production of OER through institutional policies, promote innovative pedagogical models, and respect and empower learners as co-producers on their lifelong learning path. OEP address the whole OER governance community: policy makers, managers/ administrators of organisations, educational professionals and learners. (Andrade et al., 2011)

Open educational practices, in light of JISC’s case studies and the Capetown declaration, seem to encompass all of the following: production, management, use and reuse of open educational resources; Developing and applying open/public pedagogies in teaching practice; open learning and gaining access to open learning opportunities; practising open scholarship to encompass open access publication, open science and open research; open sharing of teaching ideas and know-how; and using open technologies (web-based platforms, applications and services) in an educational context. (Beetham, H., Falconer, I., McGill, L., & Littlejohn, A., 2012)


Andrade, A., Ehlers, U.-D., Caine, A., Carneiro, R., Conole, G., Kairamo, A.-K., … Holmberg, C. (2011). Beyond OER: Shifting focus to open educational practices. Open Education Quality Initiative (OPAL).

Armstrong, J., & Franklin, T. (2008). A review of current and developing international practice in the use of social networking (Web 2.0) in higher education (Commissioned paper). London: Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience.

Beetham, H., Falconer, I., McGill, L., & Littlejohn, A. (2012). Open practices: briefing paper. JISC, 2012

Calder, J. (2000). Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 1(1).

Corney, T. (2006). Youth work in schools: Should youth workers also be teachers? Youth Studies Australia, 25(3), 17.

Couros, A. (2010). Developing personal learning networks for open and social learning. In G. Veletsianos (Ed.), Emerging Technologies in Distance Education. Athabasca University Press.

Cullen, J., Cullen, C., Hayward, D., & Maes, V. (2009). Good practices for learning 2.0: Promoting inclusion (No. JRC 53578). Joint Research Centre, European Commission.

Hodgkinson-Williams, C. (2010). Benefits and challenges of OER for higher education institutions, OER Workshop for Heads of Commonwealth Universities. Cape Town, South Africa: Commonwealth of Learning (COL).

Hodgkinson-Williams, C., & Gray, E. (2009). Degrees of openness: The emergence of OER at the University of Cape Town. International Journal of Education and Development Using Information and Communication Technology, 5(5), 101–116.

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Weigel, M., Clinton, K., & Robison, A. J. (2009). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Keegan, D. (1990). Open learning: Concepts and costs, successes and failures. In OLNT’90 Proceedings. Curtin University of Technology, Perth: Australian Society for Educational Technology.

Lewis, R. (1992). Approaches to staff development in open learning: The role of a competence framework, Open Learning, November 2011, 20-33.

Mai, R. P. (1978). Open education: From ideology to orthodoxy. Peabody Journal of Education, 55(3), 231–237.

Noddings, N., & Enright, D. S. (1983). The promise of open education. Theory Into Practice, 22(3), 182–189.

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