Teaching with OER

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instructor with laptops

Open educational resources are comparable to traditional educational materials in nearly every way. There is nothing inherently different about assigning an open textbook over a traditional textbook. However, because of the open licenses under which OER are published, they do provide more opportunities for instructors to actively engage with their teaching materials. Below, we've provided some information about practices other instructors have adopted to accompany and complement the openness of their teaching materials. 

Open Pedagogy

"Open pedagogy" is a term often used in connection with teaching with OER. There are a variety of definitions of open pedagogy, and this is acknowledged on the Open Pedagogy Notebook, but the website comes close to providing a definition with this quote: 

"We might think about Open Pedagogy as an access-oriented commitment to learner-driven education AND as a process of designing architectures and using tools for learning that enable students to shape the public knowledge commons of which they are a part."

This trend of empowering students to create content that can contribute to the education of others is exemplified in so-called "renewable assignments," assignments in which what students create can be refined, reused, or shared. Examples of these sorts of assignments can be found in the resources listed below:  

Tips for Teaching with an Open Pedagogy Approach

  • Consider your tools. You don't have to use a snazzy tool or technology to make open pedagogy work. One of the most common renewable assignments is adding citations to Wikipedia articles alongside (or instead of) creating an annotated bibliography. Make sure that you are choosing a tool or technology that your students can easily learn and, if it is not already familiar to them, that you have included time in your course for teaching students what they will be doing.
  • Scaffold learning. Not all students will be familiar with technology or able to engage with OER as quickly as others. It's important that you scaffold technology support into your teaching so all students can be on the same page when it comes to using the tools you've created or adopted. 
  • Educate students about copyright. It's important that students who are creating items that might be published and share openly can understand what that means. University librarians can visit your class to make this process easier.
  • Allow for opt-out. Some students will be energized by the idea that their homework can be seen, used, or even improved upon by future students in the class. Others may feel uncomfortable with this. Allow students to opt out of making their materials public if they are uncertain about doing so, and give them the option to remove their name from public documents. 

Tools & Technologies

  • Hypothes.is: annotate websites and online readings with your students. Let them engage with the material and each other in a more interactive way than discussion boards might allow. 
  • Wikibooks: work with students to flesh out, update, or create a new online book that can be used as an introduction to a topic covered in your course. This is a great exercise for students interested in science communication, teaching, or research. 
  • Google Docs: have students collaborate with one another to create documents, presentations, or class projects.
  • Youtube: share student instructional videos (be sure to get student consent before sharing their image or work publicly)​​​​​​
  • ISU Digital Press: With the Digital Press' new Pressbooks integration, you can create a private text with multiple interactive options, including quizzes and annotation tools. In private mode, only students with a password can access the text. Import an existing text or create one! Depending on the tools you use and what you create, there are a multitude of options for using Pressbooks in your course. 

Resources Available at ISU

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