Teaching in the Open

Enhancing Pedagogy

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire (1993) suggests that the banking model of education recognizes knowledge as something that is bestowed upon the unknowing by the knowledgeable. This type of model may serve to minimize the student’s contributions and creativity. “Stop thinking of knowledge as information to be downloaded into the student’s brain, but instead think of it as knowledge
to be uploaded to the world.”
— Robin DeRosa, 2015

An open pedagogy model of teaching advocates for problem solving and co-creation of knowledge. This model values the student’s input and encourages creativity.

Rather than thinking about learning as content, what if we considered it an open circuit?

Please watch the video below to learn more about how students, faculty, institutions and communities can benefit from open pedagogy.


Watch “Interview with Rajiv Jhangiani on ‘Enhancing Pedagogy via Open Educational Practices” on YouTube (transcript available)

The Concept of Small Teaching

“Paying attention to the small everyday decisions we make in teaching represents our best route to successful learning
for our students.”
— Lang & Darby (2019)

Instructors can feel overwhelmed when they decide to update and/or revamp a course. Indeed, making significant, large-scale changes to one’s teaching practice can be an intimidating and time-consuming process. When these large-scale changes don’t go well, it may cause the instructor to second-guess making changes in the future — or not to bother starting in the first place. The small teaching approach, introduced by James Lang (2016), seeks to effect change by starting with small, actionable modifications that can be made without having to overhaul the entire course or teaching methods. Small changes are easier to implement — as well as sustain.

It is easy to become overwhelmed with information, research and suggestions for how to incorporate open resources or pedagogies into teaching practices. As such, when considering adding open resources — or other open practices — to courses, following the small-teaching concept is highly recommended.

Open education needs to be about more than adopting products that have “open” on the label. It means building on the affordances of open licences. It means examining, more broadly, which elements of our beliefs and practices around teaching and learning are “open” or “closed” — and who are the gatekeepers in deciding what that looks like (Richardson, 2021).

The Secret to Productivity

Hank Green, science communicator, entrepreneur and author, suggests that rather than aiming for perfection — or achieving at a rate of 100 per cent — in the work we do, we should instead aim for achieving 80 per cent. He reminds us that, in every creative project, there is always a place we consider to be 100 per cent — a place we work towards and tweak until we think we will get there. The problem with this notion of the 100 per cent — or “the best” — is that it is subjective, and in that way, the enemy of the good.

Please watch the video below to learn more about Green’s secrets to productivity.

The Secret to my Productivity by Vlogbrothers is licensed under CC-BY.

Transcript – The Secret to my Productivity 

It is so easy to get stuck on creating the “best” that you may be tempted never to start. Following the 80-per-cent rule is a great way to help you get started — and learn as you go. As Green suggests, most learning comes from the doing — so start small and build from there!

Open Pedagogy Toolkit — Open UBC

In addition to using open resources, another aspect of open education asks not “what you teach with” but “how you teach.” The OER Starter Kit explores open pedagogy — a method of teaching and learning that builds on principles of openness and learner participation.

Some questions that this toolkit addresses are:

  • What possibilities do the affordances of the Internet — particularly around connection, sharing and collaboration — have for teaching and learning?
  • How can learning be transformed so individual student work can have an impact and value beyond supporting the learning of the individual student?
  • What rights and control do students have over their work?
  • What are we asking students or faculty to do when we ask them to work in the open?
  • What are best practices when students work in the open?

Review the Open Pedagogy Toolkit from Open UBC.

Extend Connections

  • How does the concept of open pedagogy align with your current practices and beliefs about teaching and learning?
  • Rajiv Jhangiani suggests that students can easily access any information we provide in our classes. He also proposes that students come to class for more than content. What are some of the other reasons why your students come to class?
  • Thinking about the small teaching concept, what is one small change you would like to make in your teaching practice and/or your course?


Darby, F., & Lang, J. (2019). Small Teaching Online. Jossey-Bass.

DeRosa, R., 2015. Beyond the Buck: An Expanded Vision for Open Access (Text Version). [online] actualham. Available at: <http://robinderosa.net/uncategorized/beyond-the-buck-an-expanded-vision-for-open-access-text-version/> [Accessed 23 September 2021].

Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. 30th Anniversary Ed. New York: Continuum.

Richardson, Will. “What Do We Mean By ‘Open Education?'” Modern Learners Community (blog). https://modernlearners.stratmanwebdevelopment.com/what-do-we-mean-by-open-education/.


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Extending Into the Open Copyright © 2022 by Paula Demacio; Alissa Bigelow; Tricia Bonner; and Shauna Roch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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