Leigh-Anne Perryman and Rebecca Ferguson
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to educators across subjects, sectors and contexts being required to take their teaching online, unprepared, at unprecedented speed. The Open University’s Institute for Educational Technology (IET) has helped support this ‘online pivot’ by providing open learning opportunities and by rapidly developing paid-for credit-bearing microcredentials. Both have introduced learners to open educational practices and open pedagogies.
Open pedagogies are often adopted by people already familiar with online education and convinced of the value of openness. Indeed, some (e.g. Singh, 2015) suggest that openness is a ‘privilege’ enjoyed by (tenured) practitioners skilled in open online participation. Empirical studies of open pedagogy often focus on such practitioners. In contrast, this presentation reports the experiences of students of IET’s microcredentials who are also educators, and who are experimenting with open pedagogies alongside taking their teaching online for the first time. Contributions to course discussions from educators in schools, colleges, universities and training settings, across 35 countries, show the ways in which they have experimented with open pedagogies, the benefits for their learners and the challenges they’ve experienced.
The identified benefits include:
– An increase in learners’ motivation and wellbeing connected with the empowerment and autonomy afforded by open pedagogies, and with the opportunity to create and openly share resources with real world relevance and value.
– The affordances of connecting learners with the wider world, especially in the context of the physical and social isolation resulting from the pandemic.
– The benefits for people outside the formal learning context who gain access to resources produced by formal learners and the opportunity to connect with them. This has been particularly significant for educators in low-income countries who’ve gained support in taking their teaching online by connecting with our students and drawing on resources they’ve openly shared.
– The pedagogical and wellbeing-related impact of shifting to a more democratic, non-hierarchical relationship between student and educator – contributing to the ‘pedagogy of care’ which Bali (2020) suggests is essential to being an educator in these challenging times.
– The opportunities for creativity and self-expression that are conducive to learners’ wellbeing.
Our students also revealed barriers to realising these benefits, including:
– Difficulties in finding a safe and accessible platform on which to openly share resources.
– The challenges of using open pedagogies with under-16s.
– Disparities between learners with different levels of skill in creating resources.
– The responsibility for supporting learners in developing safe open online participation practices.
– The potential inequity of openness, whereby blocked websites, dated hardware, slow and unreliable internet connectivity, inaccessible content, the dominance of the English language, online safety issues, and patriarchal norms can restrict learners’ willingness and ability to participate in the open.
– The mental health issues connected with giving learners additional autonomy.
– A lack of curriculum flexibility restricting the extent to which open pedagogies can be employed.
This presentation is intended to move forward explorations of open pedagogy as part of a future for education that is equitable, compassionate, flexible and resilient.
Bali, M. (2020) Pedagogy of care: COVID-19 edition. [online] Reflecting allowed. Available at https://blog.mahabali.me/educational-technology-2/pedagogy-of-care-covid-19-edition/ [Accessed 9 February 2021].
Singh, S. (2015) The Fallacy of “Open”. [online] savasavasava. Available at https://savasavasava.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/the-fallacy-of-open/ [Accessed 20 March 2021].
- Open Pedagogy
- open educational practices
- mental wellbeing
- online pivot
- online safety