Thoughts on Open Pedagogy v. OER-Enabled Pedagogy

I think I understand David Wiley’s frustration with the semantics around “Open Education” – it is a very broad term. “Open” means many things to many people as does “education.” I am not sure if “OER-enabled Pedagogy” really addresses the issue. It sounds too much like content is what guides the teaching and learning. What is the opposite of OER-enabled Pedagogy? Copyright-enabled Pedagogy? Copyright-disabled Pedagogy? Commercially-enabled?

I understand what Open Pedagogy is – I know mostly because I suffered for 16 years under its opposite. Education is closed in the sense that it is expensive, classist, inaccessible, and strangled by corporations who define the curriculum with their “great” but expensive textbooks (or technologies). The closed classroom is hierarchical and led by an “expert” whose job is to transmit information to the empty vessels. There are social justice issues here, but that does not muddy the definition any more than the closure in traditional education muddies the definition of “traditional education.”

I am teaching a course right now that uses some materials from an open textbook but most of the materials are links to newspapers and journals. We are not interested, as a class, in textbooks per se because we are looking at social studies from what is happening in the world today at this moment. We are looking at the Trump policy in Afghanistan right now. The course is student-driven, networked, and dependent on student sharing (blogs and presentations). In my practice as a teacher, this is an open class, an open pedagogy – it is not particularly dependent on the 5 R’s to succeed as a class, but it is open. The students learn a way of using information, communicating, and building learning networks.

One of the things I do with the students is getting them away from the idea of debate: that only leaves us with right and wrong, winners and losers. It shuts down the discussion. We are working on deliberation: we survey ourselves on our values as individuals and as a group and try to evaluate the issues from a shared values/different values perspective. I think that “OER-enabled Pedagogy” is not “wrong” but it represents a different set of values than “Open Pedagogy.” Wittgenstein used to say that philosophy is not a theory but an activity, and like David, I am interested in what OER enables us to do but I am not sure it is time to stop the defining process.

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