Evolving ‘Open Pedagogy’

At it’s core, the question of open pedagogy is “what can I do in the context of open that I couldn’t do before?” This turns out to be terribly difficult, because of the ubiquity (even ambience?) of copyright in our lives. An educator asking the question “what can I do pedagogically if I don’t have to worry about copyright?” is a bit like an aerospace engineer asking, “what could I do in rocket design if I no longer had to worry about gravity?” or a politician asking “what could I do if I no longer had to worry about the party system?” or a researcher asking “what could I do if funding were no longer a constraint?”

Design is the process of making goal-oriented choices under constraint, and I fear we have been operating far too long under the assumption that copyright restraints are as inevitable as death and taxes. Our design strategies have evolved in the context of this very harsh environmental factor – copyright has actually shaped the evolutionary path of pedagogy. And now we have to roll back the clock, as it were, and reimagine what could be now that couldn’t be before. What evolutionary path will pedagogy take in this newer, significantly less hostile environment?

There are doubtless dozens of very good answers to the question “what is pedagogically possible in the context of open?” As this is a very broad question, I’ve tried to narrow it (to gain a foothold) my first time through the inquiry loop by connecting it to the research base. My goal with this line of work has been to try to connect the 5Rs to research on strategies that effectively support learning. My first exercise along these lines was to look at the top 20 or 30 influences at http://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/ that pertain to the curricula, the teacher, and teaching and learning approaches, and ask “how do the 5R permissions expand what can be done here?” and “what novel opportunities for remixing effective practices are presented by the 5R permissions?” That’s what I’ve outlined at http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/2975.

Are you thinking about open pedagogy? Do you find it difficult? What are you doing to break out of your old thinking? What kind of new world are you imagining?

I’ve been thinking about these issues as I prepare a new keynote for Affordable Learning Georgia next week, and as I work on our 5R Open Course Design Framework. But a special h/t to Clint Lalonde for prompting this post.


Our recent article, The Impact of Open Textbooks on Secondary Science Learning Outcomes, is now available for open access under a CC BY license. Read the abstract below, or grab the free PDF of the full article.

Given the increasing costs associated with commercial textbooks and decreasing financial support of public schools, it is important to better understand the impacts of open educational resources on student outcomes. The purpose of this quantitative study is to analyze whether the adoption of open science textbooks significantly affects science learning outcomes for secondary students in earth systems, chemistry, and physics.

This study uses a quantitative quasi-experimental design with propensity score matched groups and multiple regression to examine whether student learning was influenced by the adoption of open textbooks instead of traditional publisher-produced textbooks. Students who used open textbooks scored .65 points higher on end-of-year state standardized science tests than students using traditional textbooks when controlling for the effects of 10 student and teacher covariates. Further analysis revealed statistically significant positive gains for students using the open chemistry textbooks, with no significant difference in student scores for earth systems of physics courses. Although the effect size of the gains were relatively small, and not consistent across all textbooks, the finding that open textbooks can be as effective or even slightly more effective than their traditional counterparts has important considerations in terms of school district policy in a climate of finite educational funding.

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The K-12 OER Collaborative

As our recent article on The Impact of Open Textbooks on Secondary Science Learning Outcomes in Educational Researcher demonstrated (OA version coming soon), when used in the K-12 context OER have the potential to provide local control, save districts significant money, support students in building up a personal library of science books, and improve learning outcomes. What can be done to help other students and schools enjoy the benefits of using OER?

Last week at OpenEd14 we announced the K-12 OER Collaborative. The Collaborative is creating comprehensive, high-quality, open educational resources (OER) for both teachers and students supporting Mathematics and English Language Arts learning, aligned with state standards. Because the resources will all be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, the resources will be absolutely free to states, districts, schools, (and parents and students, as well) and they will have total and complete local control over what to use and how to use it.

So how will we do it? The Collaborative is issuing a Competitive RFP, open to any and all content developers – both independent developers working out of their garages and major publishers like Pearson and McGraw Hill. The RFP specifications have been informed by extensive educator input with the goal of creating OER that offers a full range of instructional supports and state learning standard alignments. These materials will be vetted by teachers, openly licensed, regularly updated, aligned to assessments, and available for free in digital formats and extremely low cost print formats (states will be able to make their own print on demand deals with vendors, with no royalties to pay because the materials are openly licensed).

The Collaborative is supported by a number of states and organizations, including Arizona, California, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin, and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Achieve, The Learning Accelerator, Lumen Learning, Creative Commons, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the State Instructional Materials Review Association (SIMRA), and the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM).

The launch of the RFP last week represents hundreds of hours of dedicated work and is a milestone for OER in the K-12 context. Congratulations to everyone involved!

If you’re interested in creating OER for the Collaborative, check out the Competitive RFP.