A Pre-flight Check: Response to Wiley’s Open Pedagogy Challenge

Authored by: Mary Burgess, Tracy Kelly, Amanda Coolidge
In a recent post, Open Pedagogy: The Importance of Getting In the Air, David Wiley outlines a powerful metaphor for thinking about limitations imposed by old laws and old ideas on new technologies and new ideas.  The gist is, if we focus on using OERs in “traditional” ways, and fail to take advantage of what’s possible (namely, the capabilities of the internet), we might as well drive airplanes on the road.
His call-to-action for all of us, is to go beyond thinking about the cost-saving benefits of “free” resources, and focus on creative learning design that leverages the power of open pedagogy. Specifically, he challenges us to generate 15-20 more specific examples of Open Pedagogy, because…

“The field desperately needs more work focused in this area. Our current collection of examples of open pedagogy[…]  is pathetically small […and…] are simultaneously groundbreakingly innovative (compared to current practice) and sadly unimaginative (compared to what could be).”

Always up for a challenge, a few of the folks on the BCcampus team sat down to think about potential examples.  As a tool to shape our thinking, we imagined a matrix consisting of Openness (in approach, or resource use) and Effectiveness (in learning design).
Of course, these terms are loaded and require some unpacking. Not wanting to get hung up here for too long, we consider the following as adequate to proceed with the thought experiment challenge Wiley lays down:

  • Open (Resources & Approaches): “teaching and learning practices that are possible when you adopt OER but are impossible when you adopt traditionally copyrighted materials” [from this post]. Use of OER, requirement for students to work out in the open: create and share their work
  • Closed (Resources & Approaches): what we might think of as “traditional”: costly “closed” textbooks, learning community activity limited to the f2f classroom or behind an LMS firewall
  • Effective Learning Design: authentic learning, flexible learning, learning-centred (vs. content or instructor-centred), creative assignments that invite reflection, real-world learning and student choice
  • Not Effective (or non-optimal) Learning Design: what we might think of as “traditional” or “teacher-centred” methods: lecture-heavy, disposable assignments , assessment methods that focus on exams, closed books, multiple choice, students demonstrate learning to instructors only, everyone does the same thing, or limited/instructor-determine


Open (Resources & Approaches) Not Open (Resources & Approaches)
Effective Learning Design Flying the airplane: innovative, learning-centred design, supported by vast affordances of the internet

Driving the airplane down the road: great learning design, using “closed” resources, and conducted in “closed” spaces

  • Volunteer with an organization that advocates for, or go to an event that is about, the experiences of Aboriginal communities. Write a critical reflection that analyzes the educational value of your experience, outlines the major things you learned and proposes ways to improve, contribute or share the experience. Submit to the instructor.
Not Effective
Learning Design
Driving the airplane down the road: using OER, but under-utilizing the potential of open

  • Write research paper using Wikipedia as your sole source
  • open- book, multiple choice  final exam in a course that uses an Open Textbook
  • Watch this openly licensed video and write a research paper (handed in to the instructor) about the  Coral Polyp change
Pushing an old car down the road (instead of  airplane??): teacher-centred methods, uninspiring (disposable) assignments in a closed environment

  • Essay assignment that only the instructor reads and grades: “Is [Willy Loman, Hamlet, etc] a tragic hero?”
  • Exam question: Identify and discuss the significance of the 100 years war. 4 pages, double spaced.

Why bother? Wiley suggests that this next step in untangling Open Pedagogy is critical for faculty buy-in and adoption of open practices, beyond the resource. Because “powerful examples of open pedagogy will give faculty […] more academic freedom than traditionally copyrighted materials” (BCcampus emphasis). And, we would argue, offer the kind of exciting and powerful invitation that innovation and new ideas have always brought to Education: the invitation, through a new lens, to reflect upon and improve our practice in support of students’ learning.
Our call-to-action: Help us build examples in the first quadrant! Have an idea? Post a comment! If you would like to join us for a quick conversation about this, please join us on Monday, March 9 at 11:00 am PST for a 30-minute session on this topic during Open Ed Week.

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