What is open pedagogy?

What is open pedagogy?

To be completed by Wednesday, June 3.

Watch the video below, in which Robin DeRosa and Rajiv Jhangiani introduce the idea of open pedagogy. The video is about one hour in length. The first three minutes are an introduction to the webinar series; you can fast forward to 3:12 if you would like to skip that part. If you’d like, you can also read this introduction to open pedagogy.

In the comments section below:

  • Tell us what jazzes you about open pedagogy. What confuses you?
  • Write a paragraph describing open pedagogy to a colleague.


  1. I’m very excited about open pedagogy, having the learners in the drivers seat is a key component to arts integration which is my background. The idea of open pedagogy gives a more academic forum to utilize some of the methods that are intrinsic in how I was trained, training that has often been questioned and judged as somehow less professional. Creating community and opportunity for learners to think, question, explore and ultimately transform is the kind of classroom I encourage. Never am I the expert, but the facilitator and the guide. I am comfortable with this and it puts the educator in a position to also be a learner, which I value. I learn as much from my class community as they do from me.

    Open Pedagogy is creating community and space for learners to steer their educational journey. Providing activities, opportunities and projects that integrate the “required curriculum” allowing learners to contribute, transform and be agents of their learning. Open Pedagogy connects content to the skills and foundation the learners will need in place as they work toward their careers. Allowing space for the academic work to evolve into something the learner can potentially use later, a website, a video, a text, an article… Then you as the facilitator have fresh learner driven resources to support your class and the learners have professional level outcomes that showcase their efforts and skills learned that mean much more than the grade at the close of the semester. Open Pedagogy is just that, remaining open and flexible to work with your class to cultivate the environment they need to connect, grow, evolve and transform.

  2. 1. I really like the learner and co-producer of knowledge orientation of open pedagogy as opposed to the instructor-student tradition. Moreover, barriers to knowledge are greatly reduced through open-access at low to no additional costs. This makes knowledge more inclusive and democratic, benefiting a wider array of people. The part that I find most confusing about open pedagogy, which ins’t really too confusing, are the formats in which they live (e.g. Word Press, Blackboard, etc.).

    2. While open pedagogy defies easy definition and categorization, it can be be explained as the philosophy and application of democratic, open-source knowledge creation and knowledge availability to the greatest array of learners at the cost of an internet connection. Open pedagogy allows for community building, knowledge creation, and knowledge acquisition in an environment accessible the greatest number of learners by leveraging technology and the open spaces that exist online.

  3. My approach to teaching and learning is congruent with the principles of open pedagogy. I value the dynamic nature of knowledge, the use of local examples to illustrate sometimes abstract ideas, and creating a culture of questioning. I also love the possibility of engaging students in creating something that may have a worldwide audience with the potential to influence the thinking of many others.
    This video provided me with a wealth of new information and ideas that I can incorporate into my pedagogy e.g. about Rebus, hypothes-is, openpedagogy.org, the potential of using wiki education foundation’s resources, engaging students in writing questions rather than in giving answers to multiple-choice questions. I also loved the idea of engaging students in creating brief instructional videos which could be used by many others.
    I know that many students sacrifice their grades to avoid spending the money on buying textbooks and I remember doing so myself. But I did have the luxury of time to be able to go to the library and read the books which many of my current students who are working and managing families do not have. Involving students in creating learning materials would be a good way to make the materials engaging and relevant.

  4. I am excited about open pedagogy opening up my classes and teaching! I was very struck by the data on textbooks and access to education – of course I’ve always been aware of the prohibitively high cost of textbooks and have worked hard to keep mine really reasonable, but was shocked just how prohibitive textbooks are – and so I am eager to make college/my classes more accessible to our students. But I am even more excited to bring my students more fully into the teaching/learning experience and to learn from my students. BMCC students come from such a range of diverse backgrounds and experiences that they have much to contribute to the classroom experience, especially my course on social problems. However, while I see lots of potential for incorporating open pedagogy in my social problems class (an upper level sociology elective), I have a harder time seeing how it would work in any significant way in my introduction to sociology classes, which often have students in their first semester of college who often need lots of support and guidance.

    Open pedagogy is an approach to teaching and learning that opens the process for learners (students) to create knowledge and shape the learning experience. Open pedagogy challenges the usual hierarchy of the classroom by inviting students to collaborate in the work done in the classroom, democratizing the work of teaching and learning so that it is a two way process. This can be as simple as students helping to create a course syllabus or as sophisticated as students writing new textbooks on the course material. Stemming from its roots in Open Educational Resources, open pedagogical activities often result in the production of new knowledge that can be publicly shared.

  5. My students have two chief complaints about the textbook assigned to my course: it’s too expensive, and it’s not relatable. I do my best to bring in real world examples from my own life, pop culture, and relevant (free) resources, but I feel like I now have the experience of a few semesters under my belt to really help mold the content. I want students to walk away from my classroom with knowledge of facts, sure, but also their own informed opinions about how organizations should operate, what they will look for in a future employer, and what resources exist for them if they decide to open businesses of their own. I remember all too well purchasing my own expensive collegiate textbooks, only for the professor to profess utter annoyance with the content at the front of the classroom.

    I’m excited to remove yet another barrier facing our students, and to give them the opportunity to contribute in a way that feels meaningful and important to them. Open pedagogy allows for this in that it first addresses students as “learners” thereby allowing them to be credited with the new knowledge they absorb, and also creates a bit more conversation between professor and learner as opposed to from professor to learner. This method creates space for student opinions, questions, and contributions in a way that lives beyond the confines of the semester. It allows students to continue to possess, refer to, and proudly share the work they do in class, for benefits larger than a final grade.

  6. I am very excited about open pedagogy. Engaging students in teaching and learning process is a huge plus to students and instructors. Our students are here to learn and apply their knowledge in their jobs, so they need to get hand-on experience as much as possible. I am welcoming my students to bring their questions in the class and discuss them with their classmates.
    Most of the time math and programming languages are boring for students. They are always complaining about too much lecture. However, when they are responsible for delivering part of the lecture, they feel engaged and responsible. They get passionate to deliver as well as possible and compete with their classmates. Ask questions. This also is a huge benefit to the instructor. Since the instructor has to stay up to date and improve him/herself.

  7. Berenice Darwich

    1. I like the idea that with open pedagogy not only the professors, but a broader audience can have access to the knowledge produced by students. Also, that it promotes students’ participation in a more inclusive format of information and knowledge dissemination. I believe open pedagogy challenges the professor to think in more diverse and engaging projects to assess learning and, therefore, to revise course objectives.
    I always worry about the students who does not wish to make their work public. How do I plan for that? And in this presentation I hear about great projects, but it is also interesting to hear and see projects that require little technology or limited web access to other resources.

    2. Open pedagogy is a term that condenses the various processes that learning and production of knowledge entail, but focused on a more collaborative participation and a more equalitarian access to it (knowledge).

  8. One of the principal frustrations of my teaching career thus far has been persuading students just how much of our collective cultural heritage is already open to them — it’s just “open” in ways that, for many, aren’t clear, accessible, or inviting. And worse, there’s no end to the distractions and enticements keeping them from seizing hold of what already, by rights, *belongs* to us all. How many of our students actually visit a library regularly, or realize that the NYPL alone offers them free access to nearly any book (or film, or musical score) they could ever want, along with a citywide network of free workspaces, computers, and classes, all for a fraction of the effort required from human beings in other places and times? I sometimes like to explain to students the extraordinary pains people used to take just to acquire a single book, hear a single speaker, or listen to a single musician. Our cultural productions have never been more accessible, but helping students to engage (or even care) seems to get more difficult every year. I worry about this contradiction.

    I like the definitions of Open Pedagogy that have been posted above, and I think that — rather than recite the R’s or list examples of excellent approaches already underway — my own explanation would underscore the wording of the term itself. I understand “Open” here to connote an overstepping of traditional boundaries, whether literal or conceptual: opening the classroom; opening the syllabus; opening the distinction between teacher and student, institution and “real” world, reception and production, fixed and fluid, and so on. And I think about “Pedagogy” and education in their classical senses, as forms of gentle guidance and oversight (okay, maybe not by literal slaves of literal children, as the Greek etymology implies, but you get the idea). The end, as I see it, is to help students take control of their own educations (and, by extension, their lives), to assert themselves, to see themselves as contributors and participants and not as passive recipients.

  9. Open Pedagogy seems like it can be anything as long as it is collaborative and inclusive. Everyone is teaching and everyone is learning encouraging student agency. The thing that seems to come up first though is that there is no charge to access the content. It seems, though that it is more about a change in approach.

    While Open Pedagogy claims inclusivity and access, it does require technology and internet access which are expensive. Now in a pandemic, we have seen the disparities and inequities between our students and our students and ourselves in some cases. .. or it is even starker now / harder to ignore. With Open Pedagogy are we just trading one expense for another?

    1. I forgot to write about moving away from filler /disposable assignments. I am all for this and see how the internet can be useful in this regard as a way to publish and a reason for students to revise their work. In other words, they are writing to be read rather than for a grade. Finding ways to do this is essential. It gives work meaning.

  10. I think there’s incredible potential to develop peer-thinking and communication, especially in the class I normally teach (Music Appreciation), just as with Robin DeRosa’s lit class. Having students who have similar backgrounds in music (or listen to the same music) talk about Western Classical music together could develop vocabulary, ideas, and help peel back some of the alienness of this music.

    However, I worry that this model depends on student participation and engagement. It has tremendous potential and will do very well with some students. But, I wonder how it will work with other students who are less interested. (This is an issue, though, with an Open Pedagogy platform or a traditional one.)

    It doesn’t mean that the old method of textbooks and lectures is the way to go. By no means. But, I appreciated Rajiv Jhangiani statement about the “precariat” being on both sides of the classroom, because the level of engagement and class building required may be more than an adjunct could do, considering what else is on their plate. (This is why doing it in the summer is so helpful.)

  11. I am thrilled about the equity and authenticity open pedagogy offers. The power and freedom it offers students to expand their knowledge — based on their interests and motivation — is overwhelming. Simultaneously, I am having difficulty envisioning what open pedagogy could look like in classroom. There appeared to be an emphasis on creating OER texts, and I heard mention of a magazine and editing Wiki. What are the other options? How would I facilitate the discussion to identify what the focus of our efforts would be?

    When speaking to a colleague, I would describe open pedagogy as a movement focused on having develop goals to create meaningful knowledge in higher education. Open pedagogy removes barriers to educational materials, and ensures students have access to resources that will support their learning. Open pedagogy recognizes the brilliance, capabilities and talents of students. It shifts the dynamic of power from professors imparting knowledge and student receiving knowledge to classes co-creating knowledge. Open pedagogy is learner-driven and makes students agents of their education. Knowledge is created in the context of real-world application.

  12. A workable definition I’ve settled on is that it’s about making higher education more accessible to all, but mostly to learners. The phrase “learners” instead of “students” is one of the things that jazzes me about open education. I sometimes refer to my students as scholars, writers, researcher, thinkers, etc., but not “learners.” We are all in fact “learners”; I learn from them they from me (at least I hope).

    If I were to describe open education to another faculty member, I’d have to envision someone who like me was in the dark. I’ll start by discussing issues of fairness and access to higher education for the student population we serve within CUNY. Open education is “access-oriented approach to learning,” and it’s a tool that we as educators can use to equalize the opportunity for inclusion. It allows us to move away from dumping knowledge into our students (the banking method). Instead, we give all learners permission to be open, with their own insights and wherewithal, to contribute to their learning (CSP). With “open access,” the learners access knowledge, create knowledge and share their knowledge. When we use open pedagogy, we are affirming our commitment to access for all and helping learners and scholars to participate openly in the ever-changing academia. We are given them the power to bring into the fold what they know already (for none of them is an empty bucket that needs to be filled) and allowing them to grow in that skill/knowledge as they create their own scholarly artifacts. In the end, the focus is on access: without it, our learners learning experience is severely impacted.

  13. I’m very glad that I watched this video. Both Robin and Rajiv had interesting research and personal stories to share about Open Pedagogy. It was informative to hear the actual statistics on the dramatic inflation textbook prices have undergone, and stats on the choices that those high prices push students into making. In addition, I saw that OER courses have resulted in positive student course outcomes.
    I enjoyed Robin’s enthusiasm about building the Early American Literature anthology with her class, and I would love to incorporate some of these elements with my own Critical Thinking students. Students’ participating in the public world of the web is intriguing – it would be much more motivating and “real” for students’ work to be seen by more people than just their instructor and a couple of classmates. Since one of the major components of Critical Thinking is media literacy, I hope to think about how to use that as a building block to creating our own materials in our course, i.e., put the students’ developing abilities to filter and discriminate their web findings to a productive use.
    I was glad that certain questions were brought up at the end because they tied into my own questions. Concerning both compensation and quality, the video prompted me to wonder certain things. What market forces have caused textbooks to be so expensive in the first place, and how will scholars, whether student scholars or faculty, get compensated for their work if the material is free of cost online? I would not want to see the free materials, such as work done by students or lectures recorded by faculty start to turn into a sort of Uber-ization of higher education. (Robin mentioned an OER publisher who picked up some material written by her students, so I wonder, how does that company gain enough revenue to run – perhaps by ads? ) I think it would be great if our course could include a discussion of where we as traditional, maybe even anachronistic, union-member employees of a public university , and where OER, each fit into the spectrum of the rapidly shifting market currents.

  14. C.B.

    I feel passionate about changing the paradigm in education toward knowledge creation and sustained engagement of the learner beyond the course schedule. “This is another way that students can contribute to—not just consume—knowledge, and it shifts learning into a dialogic experience.” This acquired agency elevates knowledge as not only a path for individual growth and disposable success but more importantly initiating the seminal stages for new lines of thought in solving problems and also new questions that follow from this original success. In biology for aspiring clinicians doing “real work” is innately the most relevant aspect of applying instructional material. Learners are driven to gain capacity in the clinical practice related to conveying knowledge to patients accurately and relevantly.

    Open pedagogy allows learners to grow into the communities they are training to join and this process empowers individuals toward transforming their chosen field along with contributing to evolving the nature of learning in the course of their education. This process has real power to push boundaries and inspire learners to be change makers and creators of knowledge and expertise.

  15. I am excited about the idea of open pedagogy in my classes because this provides my students an alternative way to learning and engaging throughout the course. What I like most about this concept is the idea that it prompts learners to move at a pace that is comfortable for them, and maintains a open line of communication and dialogue. There is certain level of motivation that an instructor should maintain in order to gain learner’s buy-in. Oftentimes, traditional learning has been viewed by learners with caution–mainly because students are dependent on the instructor to drive the course. Open pedagogy allows the class to work as a team and maneuver their way through literature. I want to also note that there is a certain level of importance in incorporating real-life scenarios of media that encourages learners to step away from traditional methods and explore various ways to gaining education. From an instructor-perspective, I find it beneficial to bring options to the table for leaners (especially within urban areas) so that barriers are removed and the learning can take place organically. In my humble opinion, this is what makes learning stick. Also, feedback is pivotal because it affirms to the learning that their voice is being accounted for and there is engagement within the group, and assist with reinforcing learning, I have lived and worked in four different states, and by far, NYC offers the best opportunities to ensuring knowledge is accessible and on hand. As an educator in higher-education, it is my duty to explore every avenue for my students.

  16. 1. Open pedagogy is appealing to me because it encourages active learning. Somehow, students are given a chance to participate and make contributions, this promotes creativity and enriches their own learning experience. The lectures, rather than being “monologues” (Professor giving knowledge, students receiving knowledge) become “dialogues” where everybody can contribute and express their points of view, in this environment mutual cooperation flourishes.

    2. Open pedagogy is giving learners the opportunity to actively participate in their own learning process for it to be more meaningful, learners are given not only access to knowledge but also access to knowledge creation, contributions are shared and there is always room for improvement. Article 26 in United Nations states: “everyone has the right to access Education”, in my opinion, open pedagogy can be seen a noble attempt to make it happen.

  17. Joe Heissan

    In undergraduate school I remember how challenging it could be at times to afford the materials for some courses. To cut down on those bill each semester, there were instances I borrowed books from friends who had taken certain course in an earlier semester, or I would try to strategize how to get some materials in a timely manner through the library. I am someone who likes to write notes on books and mark them up, so those kinds of situations did not allow for that. I also found that I then wanted or needed some of these materials months or years later, so I ended up purchasing those resources anyway. To be able to help ease that kind of a burden for my students is important to me.

    I was particularly interested in the idea of students editing each other’s work because of the collaboration involved. At BMCC, I have been teaching Fundamentals of Speech, so encouraging a sense of academic collaboration in and out of the classroom is crucial. At times I find some students resistant to collaboration, where parts of their grade could depend on other students doing their fair share of the work. To be able to edit someone else’s work effectively the editor may need to possess an understanding of the material or the concepts involved, so I could see this kind of approach to certain assignments serving as a way to assess the student editors’ understandings without necessarily having to give them a formal test. Students participating in the development/creative process in this way also reinforces the fact that I, as the professor, am not the only audience for these assignments, which students need to keep in mind when developing their presentations.

    I try not to be the grammar police, but some of my students write in ways that can be quite challenging to read. What are some better ways to be sensitive to that issue, especially if students are going to be involved in editing each other’s work? With freedom comes responsibility. What are some better ways to address that aspect of open pedagogy with students?

    Open pedagogy, to me, suggests an approach to learning where the students and their professors act as a group of collaborators, or members of a team, where access to knowledge is available to all the members, as is access to knowledge creation.

  18. Al Eisenbarth

    I am really jazzed about the revolutionary implications of knowledge co-creation. It feels like phasing out our work, deinflating academic attainment, and dreaming toward a world where access is not determined by ability to pay.
    Additionally, I view a lot of my work, when succeessful as confidence building and knowledge creation on the part of the students feels potentially very agreeable to that end.
    I am confused about ownership of students. I am wary of the implications of students having to pay for the same work we get paid for. One of the questions at the end addresses this.

    To a colleague: Open Pedagogy is a way to connect to principled education. It embraces and expands the understanding of access to education as a human right by changing the goal of teaching. It is a way to encourage student engagement and long term learning.

  19. What really excites me about open pedagogy is for students to be creating work that really matters, which I think will significantly increase their engagement with my courses. It will also set a higher standard of rigor because students will feel that this work is not just for a grade, but being created for public consumption.

    Open pedagogy challenges the banking concept of education (whereby knowledge is deposited in students) by posing to following question: How can we give students access to the creation and shaping of knowledge or culture, not just the absorption of it? It does away with disposable assignments only seen by the teacher, and replaces them with public-facing projects that encourage students to engage more deeply with each other and the world around them.

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