The pic-a-mix of open education

Fabio Alessandro Locati

“Fale – Barcellona – 194” by Fabio Alessandro Locati CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –


Week 1 thoughts:
An awesome and informative week learning about open pedagogy with details of the course right here:

The webinar by Amanda Coolidge and Tracy Kelly was super and made me think about open pedagogy really for the first time really. I’ve been working on open educational resource (OER) projects for around ten years with rather a ‘bull in a china shop’ approach, and this week is really making me think through more of a structure that would be useful.

How do we define open?

The webinar started off assisting us in thinking about defining open pedagogy. I really have struggled recently with how on earth the open movement can move forward unless we start defining the ethical boundaries in which we operate? Open ultimately is a free-for-all on the web and we are all familiar with the more negative aspects of this. We need ethical common ground for sure. Hopefully his community will help define it. (Here is a pitch for funding that was unsuccessful but shares my thoughts…).

David Wiley’s definition of ‘open’ and the 5 Rs of openness

The 5 Rs of openness provide a useful framework for us to think of in terms of sharing learning materials openly – reuse, revise, remix, redistribute and retain (the control of the content produced). I would add a 6 category of course – to participate in the spirit of openness in an ethically appropriate manner.

(Just thinking the 6th R might be – responsibly or responsibility).

Back to the show – many of the definitions of open do focus on resources and as the webinar presenters highlighted there is a whole field of open practice, behaviour and activity that also apply. I know in my own institutions there are discussions about open data, open science and open research. We all increasingly operate a ‘pick-a-mix’ approach to education, dipping in and out of being open, although many learners and teachers find it more easy to just adopt a philosophical stance toward openly working, and apply it to all they do.

So how do I define open pedagogy?

Going back to some of the clearest thinking about education and what it is, Richard Peters’ describes the ‘matter’ and ‘manner’ of education, and discussions about open pedagogy for me cannot isolate the content from the learner-teacher relationship, and the manner in which we all engage on the web. His book “Ethics and Education” is a must-read. (R. S. Peters: Ethics and education. 5th edn, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London 1968).

Also, going back to the definitions of pedagogy (and andragogy) that are the science and practice of teaching, we absolutely do not want to lose sight of the need to evaluate what we do either to produce well informed approaches. I personally think we have all become a little lousy at that.

How can we reflect on our approaches now?

I really liked this next bit of the webinar. Amanda and Tracy have constructed a matrix to help us position our practice. I might challenge and say there could be a new row on co-creation. The matrix I think identifies a learning journey that we must encourage students along. Obviously, students new to university or anyone making the transition back to education are vulnerable and need support, so may start off in box 4. As they become accustomed to open licensing, use of technology, working openly on the web – as they may not have ever done before – we can gently nurture them toward box 1. It would be good if the journey to 2 and 1 were a quick one as we don’t want to dwell to long on dinosaur methods of education.

Open Pedagogy Matrix

Amanda Coolridge and Tracy Kelly. Open Pedagogy Matrix. CC BY. (BCU week 1 webinar screen grab).

Unfortunately we may be based in institutions that are non-open, and have no policy or inclination to work openly. We may therefore be firmly rooted in 4 and 3, using dinosaur methods, locking learning behind VLEs, and assessing student knowledge regurgitation in examinations, obsessing with providing them feedback, all of which does nothing to develop individuals.

Summary of week 1

  • So I have formed a definition of open pedagogy in my mind, embracing the pic-a-mix of open practices and approaches we all use these days.
  • I have reflected on my own practice and that we need to encourage students (and staff) through the matrix up to box 1 and perhaps beyond as co-producers.
  • I believe in the 5Rs of open plus a 6th category of embracing the spirit of openness in an ethical manner.
  • My question that I hope to explore through this course is – how can I work openly as an educator on the web – because I chose to do so outside of work hours – but operate ethically in terms of copyright (OK, using what is mine), in terms of privacy (OK, using the privacy terms that come with WP blogging) but also ethically in terms of the manner in which we conduct ourselves?