OER-Enabled Pedagogy: Inviting Students to the Party

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

There’s something about Open Education that seriously lights me up. The first time this happened to me, I was invited to attend eCampus Ontario’s first Open Education Ontario Summit. Robin de Rosa and Rajiv Jhangiani delivered an inspiring, articulate, research-based keynote that at once introduced me to Open Education, and pulled me right in.

Jump ahead a year and a half, and I’m seeing significant changes in the way that I envision the learning experience. I found David Wiley’s description of disposable and renewable assignments of particular interest, and starting focussing my research on Open Educational Practices (OEP) and Open Pedagogy.

Open. It’s about creating, sharing, empowering. It’s access, equity, choice. Open speaks to me, and many others, on a philosophical and emotional level. While this is helpful in terms of motivation, I need to check myself and ensure that I’m viewing my open practise with the same critical eye that I apply to all of my teaching and scholarly work. While I’ve read extensively about OEP and Open Pedagogy, the terms are muddy, overlapping, ill-defined. It makes it difficult to know where to start and how to move forward. Frankly, I’ve been feeling a bit stuck. So, when experts in the field offered up some clarity, I was grateful for the read and even more so for the direction and ideas.

OER-Enabled Pedagogy

David Wiley and John Levi Hilton III recently published an article in the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL) titled “Defining OER-Enabled Pedagogy. They present a continuum of criteria that can be used to evaluate whether a particular approach meets their definition of OER-enabled pedagogy, that is, “the set of teaching and learning practices that are only possible or practical in the context of the 5R permissions that are characteristic of OER” (2018, p. 135). Here’s an overview of their continuum:

Wiley & Hilton, 2018, p. 137

In the article, they evaluate a few examples of OER-enabled pedagogy using a four part-test that essentially reiterates the column headings. I saw potential for these questions to help me both plan course activities that align with the definition of OER-enabled pedagogy, and invite students to participate in those activities, to the extent that they are willing and comfortable.

Inviting Students In

Open activities can look dramatically different from the type of coursework that students are typically asked to complete in formal learning environments. While students must never be forced to share their work publicly or openly license the artifacts of their learning, educators can “espouse the benefits of openness and appropriately advocate for students to license their work under a Creative Commons license” (Wiley & Hilton, 2018, p. 144). I thought it might be helpful to reimagine Wiley and Hilton’s four-part test from the perspective of my future students, learners who I’m inviting to engage in OER-enabled pedagogy:


How does creating something new, or revising / remixing an existing OER support my learning?

How might the artifacts of my learning benefit others?

Why would I make my work available publicly?

Why would I openly license my work?

What’s Your Answer?

I’d like to invite Open Educators, new, emerging, and veteran, to populate a Google Doc with their answers to the four questions posed above. I think this could be a powerful collaborative exercise for a few reasons:

  • the responses we share will help clarify our own motivations for implementing OER-enabled pedagogy in our particular contexts
  • we can refine our messaging to students, incorporating our responses into course introductions, assignment descriptions and the like
  • we can produce an OER that new Open Educators might find extremely valuable and orienting
  • we can remix the responses into media-rich learning objects for and with our students, essentially using the list as a starting point for enacting OER-enabled pedagogy



This is me asking for help, me calling you to action. Please help me by adding your wisdom to this Google Doc. Please share it widely and ask your colleagues to contribute.

Let’s see where this can go.





OER-Enabled Pedagogy: What’s in it for me?

This post is a response to the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) activity found within the Teacher for Learning module on Ontario Extend

Photo by Burst on Unsplash

I’m an emerging Open Educator, and I must acknowledge that my engagement with Open Education has up until this point been supported almost exclusively by eCampus Ontario’s professional development opportunities, through partnerships such as the Open Education Fellows program, and through collaborative learning communities such as the eCampus Open Rangers, Ontario Extend participants, and the Instructional Design Interest Group of Ontario.

A few years ago, my campus really wasn’t really talking about Open, but eCampus was. I heard, got involved, started researching, took a few baby steps toward open in my own courses. Along with like-minded colleagues, I started promoting Open Educational Resources (OER) at my campus. We had an Open Day.

Do the Thing

“Just do the thing”. It’s something I say frequently, I guess, because my colleagues affectionately tease me about it. One aspect of Open that’s really caught my attention is Open Educational Practices (OEP) and Open Pedagogy. However, the two terms are a bit difficult to nail down. What is it? How does one do it? What counts? Where to begin? These questions haunted me last year as I attempted to incorporate said practices into my teaching. My lack of clarity does not position me well to advocate for these practices on my campus. In my heart and my gut, I know this approach will lead to learner empowerment and engagement. However, my brain needs to get a handle on all of the jargon. I need to know what the thing is before I can do the thing, and certainly before I can effectively pitch the thing to faculty and students.

The Thing: OER-Enabled Pedagogy

Last night I read with interest the new Wiley and Hilton (2018) article titled “Defining OER-Enabled Pedagogy,” published in this month’s issue of the International Review of  Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL). The article provides the answers I was searching for last year, and sets out a wonderfully clear framework for educator/researchers who, like me, need some clarity to help free them from a stasis caused by competing definitions, lack of research, newness.


Picking up on Wiley’s (2013) description of the renewable assignment, readers are asked to

“consider a continuum of criteria that distinguish disposable assignments from renewable assignments”

(Wiley & Hilton, 2018)

Their continuum looks like this:

Wiley & Hilton, 2018


This is hugely helpful for me.


Now, rather than spinning in circles, I can work toward a clear end goal by asking myself four simple questions:

  1. How will this assessment invite students to create new artifacts, or to revise / remix existing OER?
  2. How might these artifacts add value to the world, beyond benefitting the student-author’s learning?
  3. How will I invite students to share their artifacts publicly?
  4. How will I invite students to openly license their artifacts?


The above questions are a remix of Wiley and Hilton’s four-part test for assessing whether a particular approach qualifies as OER-enabled pedagogy. My framing of the questions imagines an educator setting out to intentionally plan assessments that both support constructionist learning while also (potentially) adding value to the world beyond a single course of study, beyond a single student’s learning.

It should be noted that the word “invite” is used intentionally. The authors are very clear on this point:

“Students are the authors and copyright holders of the homework and other artifacts they create as part of their education. There is no morally or ethically appropriate scenario in which faculty can require students to openly license their homework or other creations as part of an assignment”

(Wiley & Hilton, 2018)


Indeed, it would be quite antithetical to the ethos of Open to mandate or force students to make their work publicly available or openly licensed if they aren’t comfortable doing so. Pointe finale.


The authors go on:

“However, faculty can espouse the benefits of openness and appropriately advocate for students to license their works under a Creative Commons license. This advocacy will be more effective if the faculty member is using OER in the class and can point to OER they have created and shared”

(Wiley & Hilton, 2018)

Fair enough. And finally, I reach the purpose of this post.

What’s in it for Me?

The purpose of this Ontario Extend activity is to have educators consider how learner motivation might be enhanced by answering the question “what’s in it for me?” I’ve adapted Wiley and Hilton’s four-part test so that the focus relates to the planning of an assessment which supports OER-enabled pedagogy, from the educator’s perspective.

The questions can be further adapted as if they are posed by students. My answers should provide a clear rationale for engagement, helping learners to situate themselves on the continuum. Those questions might look something like this:

  1. How does creating something new, or revising / remixing an existing OER support my learning?
  2. How might the artifacts of my learning benefit others?
  3. Why would I make my work available publicly?
  4. Why would I openly license my work?

Wrap it Up O’Reilly

This post is not a laundry-list of what’s-in-it-for-me’s, which was kind of the purpose. However, it has helped me arrive at a new perspective and approach to OER-enabled pedagogy. I know what questions I need to ask myself to design assessments which meet the definition of OER-enabled pedagogy. I also know what questions I need to answer to invite my students to participate. Some of the answers are found in the Wiley and Hilton article. I encourage you to read it. Some of the answers will be context-specific and will emerge as my planning evolves. Some will need to be answered collectively, with my students. It truly is an iterative process, but I feel that I’m moving forward.

It feels good!



Cornelling Khan

Here’s my response to the Cornell Notes activity found within the Teacher for Learning module on Ontario Extend


For this activity, I opted to watch Salman Khan’s (2011) Ted Talk titled “Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education”. I found a Cornell note template for Google Docs on TechCoaches.com (thanks Bob Harrison!), and got started.

Here’s a link to my Cornell note.

I noticed that the template I found contained a “questions” column rather than a “summary” column. Other than that, it was a typical Cornell note. To be honest, I’m not sold on the Khan Academy model or on Cornell notes. While I can appreciate that the Cornell note offers one strategy for organizing information, I can also appreciate that it won’t work for everyone.


In the early weeks of the College Communications course I teach, I’ll often have my students watch this awesome video by CollegeInfoGeek:

I’ll ask them to reflect on their default note-taking strategy, then ask them to move out of their comfort zone and try out one of the other four strategies described in the video. They submit their note along with a guided reflection about the benefits and weaknesses of the strategy, the likelihood that they’ll adopt the approach, and any other insights they care to share.

Most of my students like CollegeInfoGeek’s style, so his videos have become some go-to resources for me, at least in that course which tends to incorporate many general college success strategies. Many of my students don’t remember being explicitly taught how to take notes, which affirms for me that the activity is of value to them, particularly since they take my course in the first semester of their program of study.

However, when it comes to which note-taking strategy students use, which they try, and which they like/dislike, it’s a totally mixed bag… and that’s okay. While Cornell notes may work great for some, and certainly I’ve had many students who were brand new to Cornell notes, tried it, and saw great value in the approach, I think it’s important to be clear that the ways we organize knowledge will be highly individual.


Mappin’ Syllabi

Here’s my response to the Syllabus Concept Map activity found within the Teacher for Learning module in Ontario Extend


I decided to dust off my Ontario Extend workbook and jump into this activity. I’ve enjoyed browsing through others’ maps, particularly @melyoung00‘s map of the College Communications course I also teach. I think future instructors of ENG 1002 would be very grateful for such a clear overall plan and starting point.

Last Friday, I grabbed some supplies, turned on my favourite playlist, and sketched out a rough plan for a course I’m building for an online delivery. I’ll teach the course for the first time this coming Winter semester. I need to get going.



The image above is the result of my initial hour of scheming. I wonder if most instructional designers turned to digital after years spent struggling to write coherently? Are they all left-handed like me?

I got at least one strange look, as I sat on the floor, markers in hand and post-it notes everywhere, but this is my favourite process for coming to grips with a new course. I pay attention to the outcomes and objectives, and start to envision alignment with assessments. I imagine how application and content can be chunked into units of study, and think about where I might find opportunities to pull in Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP).

Basically, it’s a lot of thinking and figuring, with a bit of singing and erasing thrown in.

Make with the Map

When I came upon this Ontario Extend activity, I thought it would be interesting to convert the mess I made on the whiteboard into a digital concept map. I feel that it’s still in draft form, but here’s where I got:

Description and visual representation of SSC 1002: Thinking, Reasoning, Relating

I still need to indicate my assessment plan, and connect topics to units, but frankly my eyes were getting tired as I fiddled with colours, shapes, and lines. My brain was full of ideas though, and as I added each topic I started to have a bunch of new ideas, such as:

We could co-create a timeline using that cool tool I saw at a conference last year!

  • figure out name of cool tool
  • learn how to use cool tool
  • design a student-facing prompt

Opinion, Assumption, or Fact sounds like a gameshow

  • gamify!
  • can students come up with examples?
  • what’s an asynchronous version of Kahoot!?

and on and on…

I think it’s this phase in the course design process that’s the most creative. It’s all idea and possibility. It’s exciting to imagine all these words in rectangles becoming tech-enabled learning opportunities. This drafting / mapping combo has certainly motivated me to finish up the planning phase and move into the design phase. Plus it’s left me with a nice visual to anchor to.

I’m extending!


Leaving Good Tracks: CNIE Sudbury 2018

A trail meets a northern Ontario lake

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education’s annual conference. This year, it was held in my hometown of Sudbury, Ontario. It was delightful to have a conference come to ME for a change! I enjoyed zipping home between the events of the day and the events of the evening, to change, feed the cats, throw a load of laundry in.

As I was flitting between my personal and professional obligations, I found myself reflecting on the concept of community, likely because many of my little communities collided at CNIE. Colleagues from Cambrian also joined the conference, and I felt compelled to attend their talks where possible, as a show of support and because I was genuinely interested in what they had to say. I felt real pride watching members of Cambrian’s community own the stage, rocking it.

It was also delightful to meet up with the OE Fellows again, to get the band back together after our amazing time in Delft. I was reminded of when we first gathered for dinner the night prior to the OE Global conference.  We were friendly, sure, but friendly in the way that you are with a distant cousin or friend of a friend. When we reunited in Sudbury it was hugs, not handshakes. It’s an important difference.

I also made connections with folks working in similar supportive roles at the other post-secondary institutions in Sudbury. It’d been on my to-do list to reach out to these people all year, maybe even before then, but more pressing issues kept deferring that goal. They were without exception lovely, and so excited to hear about Cambrian’s new Teaching and Learning Innovation Hub. Some confessed to checking out our new website and pulling ideas from our jam-packed PD calendar. It made me proud, and I might have bragged a little bit about our amazing new space and all the potential it brings. Delegates from Laurentian and Boreal were forthcoming about their achievements as well as their struggles, and we’ve made loose plans to continue the conversation over a beer. It’s the Sudbury way.

Finally, I was introduced to the various members of the CNIE Board. Not only did they arrange for a fantastic conference experience, they welcomed me into their fold in the role of Director Education / Training Technology Specialists. Their newly minted President is also a member of my EdD cohort, so it felt like two worlds colliding in that sense. I’m so looking forward to working with this group over the next few years.

Without exception, the conversations at the conference centered around supporting student success, and also supporting each other in our efforts to critically reflect upon the important roles we play and how we might do better, how we can teach with empathy, embrace diversity, advocate for risk-taking, and constantly challenge the status quo.

In so many ways, the people who gathered at CNIE are open educators. Open to sharing, learning, debating, collaborating. Open to celebrating others’ successes and learning from our failures. While the opening reception was beautiful in many ways, I remember smelling the tobacco burn, enjoying the sunlight cascading across the perfectly circular room, and hearing “Leave good tracks for those who come after”. We did. We will!




Look Before You Build

Here’s my response to the What’s Your Definition of Content Curation? activity found within the Curator module on Ontario Extend:

As I learn more about the open movement, my new knowledge is creating a behaviour change. It’s kind of weird to step outside of myself and evaluate how my actions and attitudes have shifted in a short time, really in the past year or so, but the change has been dramatic.

As an instructional designer, I became quite used to building stuff from scratch. Faculty would bring me their ideas, and together, we’d make it happen. I didn’t spend much time looking for existing resources because those resources typically cost money and I rarely (never) work from a budget.

Fast forward to the open movement’s arrival in Ontario, eCampus Ontario’s advocacy work, and my entry into the open movement via eCampus Ontario’s Open Education Fellows. Now, my first reaction isn’t to go build the thing, but to look for what’s already out there. This is a significant change in practice and in attitude.

The more I model this behaviour, the more I see faculty doing the same. Where a few months ago “OER” wasn’t something we talked about on campus, this week alone I had three OER-related discussions solicited by three separate faculty. Even better, other faculty overheard the conversations and expressed interest in exploring OER for their courses. Something has sparked, and I think open pedagogy is about to light up the way we think about course resources and impactful teaching/learning on campus. I can’t wait to invite the larger community to an Open discussion in late May. I hate the overly used cliche “paradigm shift” – but the term comes to mind when I think about my own transition from builder to content curator, and the same transition I see in other educators who are beginning to embrace the open movement.

Baton pass

The first step in this change process is giving ourselves permission to use what is out there, to test it, tweak it, share it. Rather than running our own solitary sprints, we’re joining a relay race that just keeps getting better every time we pass the baton. This starts with content curation, with the mindset that calls us to look first rather than automatically build from scratch, or worse, buy and send our students the bill.

Digital Literacy: A Lesson in Humility

Here’s my response to the What are Digital Literacies activity found within the Technologist module on Ontario Extend:

Warning: This is not a definition. It’s an anecdote, but a good takeaway lesson nonetheless.


Something interesting happened this week. A colleague came into the Hub and said, “I think I’m wrong about something”. She wanted to learn more, and she wasn’t ashamed to say it. This is so admirable. Some of the most effective, impactful educators I’ve met are the ones who are comfortable saying. “I don’t know. Let me find out!” They model the habits of mind required of a lifelong learner.

The thing she was wrong about, in her opinion, was underestimating the negative implications of the Facebook data scandal. I, much like her, struggled to see the potential dangers of data sharing. With the exception of passwords and credit card numbers, what could be so nefarious about companies accessing data to target ads to our interests? Clearly, we were missing something. Fortunately, we work with some brilliant minds at Cambrian. Unfortunately, we rarely have time to pause and learn from each other, unless some teaching need necessitates it. With the exception of five very interesting weeks this past fall, faculty really don’t get a chance to chat.

I knew that adding a third person into the conversation would add immeasurable value. He’s a data guy, a smart cookie, and always open to conversation. I emailed him, introduced him electronically to my colleague, and the conversation took off. He provided us with examples of the positive uses of social media data (suicide prevention) and numerous negative examples (pricing based on user analytics, health profiles created through Google search activity). He even mapped my Twitter account activity to show us what sort of information is available to anyone who cares to look for it.

I consider myself fairly digitally literate, but I learned quite a bit from this email thread. I never would have been granted the opportunity if my colleague hadn’t been open to learning, and to discussing something that she didn’t fully understand.

It was an inspiring lesson in humility and a reminder that we can learn from each other. We just need to ask. I need to consider how to take this example and bring it into my classroom and into the PD offerings facilitated by the Hub. It’s about extending the conversation. So appropriate for Ontario Extend!