Open Pedagogy: What is it and how can we use it more effectively for teaching and learning?

Image by Giulia Forsythe licensed under CC0 

Open Pedagogy is not new. Open Education was popular in the 60s and 70s—though maybe in a slightly different context. But because of the more recent Open Pedagogy movement, and specifically because of the Open Education Resources (OER) movement, Open Pedagogy has re-emerged and become a tool to improve teaching and learning. Numerous interpretations of Open Pedagogy exist but before we delve any deeper into Open Pedagogy, we first need to quickly review the definition of Open Educational Resources (OER), as the two of them are intricately connected to each other.   

Simply put, OER are free to access; free to reuse; free to revise; free to remix and free to redistribute. These are the 5Rs that are essential to keep in mind when we talk about Open Pedagogy.   

Graphic by Kirk Snyder, OER librarian at Touro Libraries, licensed under a (CC BY-SA 4.0) creative commons license. 

Open Pedagogy (Open Ped): 

An expert in Open Ped, Robin DeRosa (2018) defines it as an instructional approach that engages students in using, reusing, revising, remixing, and redistributing open content. Based on the definition of Open Educational Resources above, we now understand that by open content she means openly licensed material which due to their 5 rights can be easily and freely incorporated into teaching and learning.  

***Note that there is a lot of material on the internet that are free to watch, listen to, and read, but they are not necessarily free in the sense that one can use and reuse them without copyright permission.

Open Educational Resources and Open Ped pioneers, Wiley and Hilton (2018), define Open Ped as “the set of teaching and learning practices only possible or practical in the context of the 5R permissions which is when you are using OER”. In other words, Open Ped is teaching and learning through OER or simply put, an “OER-enabled pedagogy”.  

The Renewable Assignment:

On his blog, called, “improving learning” David Wiley talks about killing the disposable assignment. Those assignments that both students and faculty complain about, those that in his words, “add no real value to the world—after a student spends three hours creating it, a teacher spends 30 minutes grading it, and then the student throws it away.” 

Wiley instead recommends creating renewable assignments. These are assignments that would be impossible without the 5 permissions granted by open licenses, but they will provide students opportunities to spend their efforts on valuable projects beyond the classroom. To give you an idea, here are a few examples of non-disposable assignments.  

  • Create or edit Wikipedia articles 
  • Create or co-create assignments/exam questions/test banks 
  • Create or modify syllabus/learning outcomes/grading policies/ rubrics
  • Open Syllabi—students become responsible for filling out the syllabus 
  • Translations  
  • Write blog posts (WordPress)  
  • Post social media (Twitter) 
  • Create podcasts (Final Examination–UMass) 
  • Create & Post social annotations  (with Hypothesis)   
  • Real world case studies—solve community or social problems, such as racism, health disparity, diversity 
  • Open Peer-review  
  • Creating, publishing & sharing Zines  
  • “How to videos/tutorials” in any medium using OER—(e.g.) students explaining difficult course topics to other students 
  • Create an anthology using public domain literary text (include marginalized authors & plurality of voices) 
  • Student-designed renewable websites: 

For this last example, an instructor said that instead of student posters piling up in the garbage can at the end of each semester, she asked students to pick a topic and then create a website by using Google Sites which is free through their school (from NEHB webinar on Open Pedagogy, April 12, 21).  The content that student created might not be perfect, she added, but many times the projects roll over to the students of the following semester and they continue until the project gets perfect.  

Moreover, students learn to use an open technology platform, such as Google Sites. There are also WordPress, Twitter, YouTube, flickr, and Wikipedia to name a few other public platforms used for Open Ped assignments. Not only do students learn about creating, using, and remixing OER in Open Ped assignments, they also learn, among other things, about contributing their collaboratively produced knowledge publicly through these platforms. Which in turn makes them to learn about how such platforms work and how information gets distributed.  

And while teaching in a collaborative, contributive, and student-centered method sounds authentic, liberating, and innovative; educators must note that teaching through Open Ped carries a few risks as follows: 

Students are the copyright holders of their projects, so they need to know about different licensing options, and how they can license their own work, if interested in sharing. Also, educators need to make sure to give students the option to opt in or out if they do not feel comfortable with sharing their projects publicly. As such, privacy issues can be a concern and some experts in Open Ped recommend FERPA waivers to avoid any data privacy infringements. Additionally, taking out individual students’ names and instead using a group name that can be shared by the team is also recommended since online bullying can become an issue as well.   

In the end, though many of us librarians are not teaching complete courses, Open Ped can be a great way to teach information literacy and critical thinking. Librarians can get involved with OER and Open Ped by clarifying intellectual property, licensing, and copyright issues just as they can talk about evaluating diverse information that vary in creation and dissemination.  

So, if this short piece intrigued you to take advantage of OER and Open Ped assignments and ideas, or if you just want to learn more about it, please check out the library’s LibGuide on Open Pedagogy. Or simply contact me at  


This post was contributed by Sara Tabaei, Library Information Literacy Director.

You’re invited…to our spring webinars!

The Touro College Libraries are excited to share the schedule of webinars our staff are offering this spring. From Pubmed to peer review, these sessions will offer Touro faculty and graduate students the opportunity to learn new tools and expand their skills. We hope you can join us!

Please click on the title of a webinar for more information and to register via Zoom. Note: times listed are in EST.

Advanced Pubmed: Taking Your Search to the Next Level (NYMC)
Friday, January 29, 2021 – 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Accessing & Navigating Library Resources Remotely (TC)
Thursday, February 18, 2021 – 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Depositing Your Work in Touro Scholar (TC)
Thursday, March 4, 2021 – 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Conducting a Systematic Review (NYMC)
Tuesday, March 9, 2021 – 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Creating a Research Web Presence: Tools for Research Profiles and Websites (TC)
Thursday, April 22, 2021 – 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Peer Review and Open Peer Review (TC)
Thursday, May 13, 2021 – 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Unpaywall your published article via Touro Scholar (TC)
Thursday, May 27, 2021 – 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Introduction to Grant Searching for Biomedical, Life Sciences and Public Health Research (NYMC)
Thursday, June 3, 2021 – 4:00pm – 5:00pm

These webinars will be recorded and shared on our Recorded Webinars LibGuide, where you can also find past webinars. If you have any questions about these webinars or topics to recommend, please email