Areas of Practice

Open Educational Practices are where openness is enacted within all aspects of instructional practice; including the design of learning outcomes, the selection of teaching resources, and the planning of activities and assessment. OEP engages both faculty and students with the use and creation of OER, … and supports participatory student-directed projects. (2017, Paskevicius)

Since 2017 the University of Alberta’s Students Union has developed a stronger and stronger voice to express a desire for OEP (open educational practices). The conversation is often framed around OER (open educational resources), which on the surface can focus specifically on reducing costs. In recent years, this conversation has expanded beyond cost and into teaching practices.

  • instructors and students to collaborate with each other or their counterparts at other institutions
  • allows students to engage in authentic learning experiences that they can relate to
  • engage our students with knowledge in a way in which they see themselves represented in the material
  • develop real world understandings
  • agency to express the learning process in unique ways

Open Educational Practices can enable us to intentionally plan and design teaching in an Indigenized, inclusive, and relevant way, and engage students in the process.

When students create materials to share with an authentic, public audience, the experience shifts from transmissive to transactional, or even transformative (Svenson, 2017). When students are brought into the fold to have ownership of discourse in their discipline, they integrate the knowledge and contexts on a more personal and practical level. This can enrich their learning, or inform their choices in future courses, fields of study, or career.

OEP (open educational practices) includes a number of areas listed below which are related to teaching and learning, as well as research.

Open Education Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OER), such as open textbooks are freely available and can be modified to meet local needs. These materials carry an open license that allow them to be adapted and /or combined with other resources, allowing instructors to control the content, instead of an outside publisher.

OER can be syllabi, lecture notes, video recordings of lectures, slides, animations, assignments, podcasts, and more can be OER, with an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.

Finding OER: The UA Library has a number of services available to assist you with finding and using course materials, including identifying open educational resources that may be appropriate for your course. Contact your subject librarian for more information.

Creating OER: The Library’s Open Textbook Publishing Program partners with instructors at the UofA to create and adapt open textbooks for credit courses, using Pressbooks publishing software. Pressbooks enables the authoring and publication of multimedia-rich print books, ebooks, and web books. The published books are shareable in multiple formats, and allow you to create interactive content like videos, presentations, games, quizzes and more.

For more information, visit University of Alberta Libraries Open Textbook Publishing.

Open Pedagogy

Open pedagogy is a form of experiential learning which embraces collaboration, student agency, and authentic audiences while recognizing the differences in privilege and progress that impact how students balance the benefits of sharing and a need for privacy. Open practices challenge traditional teaching roles and have the power to transform the educational experience for both instructors and students. Open pedagogy shares common investments with many other historical and contemporary schools of pedagogy. (e.g. constructivism, connectivism, digital and critical pedagogy).

Open educational practices (OEP), or open pedagogy, can be described as practices that encompass multiple forms of openness.

Cronin (2017), states “The use of OEP by educators is complex, personal, and contextual; it is also continually negotiated.” Openness can mean different things to different people, and the pedagogical benefit of such practices will differ with each instructor and class.

Open pedagogy utilizes OER as a jumping-off point to rethink the relationship between teachers, students and knowledge. When teachers and students are able to modify their own textbooks and learning materials, we shift the student emphasis from transmissive, into transactional and transformative (Svenson, 2017).

Teachers and students become learners together, and content becomes a dynamic, always changing category with which we engage rather than a stable set of facts to be mastered. (DeRosa)

For further considerations and example projects for integrating open pedagogy into your courses, see this post: Using Authentic Assessment to Integrate Current Events Into Courses.

Open Teaching

Teaching in the open means that you are making some or all aspects of your learning environment available and accessible to the public.

For some, this may mean the adoption of an open text or learning resource, or contributing open educational resources created by you and/or your students. For others, it may mean adopting a set of open practices - related to all aspects of the course including planning, learning, assessment and reflection on the process.

Openly sharing your teaching materials, your teaching practices, and allowing students and instructors beyond the University of Alberta to learn from you increases not only the openness of your course, but also engages participants who cannot attend a physical educational site or enrol in formal education delivery.

There is no one way to teach or to “do open.”

OEP and Remote Teaching

While students benefit from the use of open educational resources and open pedagogy in on-campus classes, those benefits may only increase during times of required remote teaching and learning. OER are free and easier to access than commercial resources.

Open pedagogy that relates to current issues can help students engage in service oriented learning experiences which in turn, can support our students’ mental health during this challenging time.