Lesson 5.2 OEP in your daily teaching
Once you have reflected about Open Educational Practices, the next step is to gradually start adopting some of these practices in your daily teaching. Every teacher as well as every student group is different, so the adoption of OEP should be tailored to each case, also depending on the subject and especially on the learning context.
Learner-centred teaching through OER
The five characteristics of Learner-Centred Teaching are:
- Learner-centred teaching engages students in the hard, messy work of learning. Teachers are doing too many learning tasks for students. We ask the questions, we call on students, we add detail to their answers. We offer the examples. We organise the content. We do the preview and the review. On any given day, in most classes teachers are working much harder than students. We are not suggesting we never do these tasks, but we don’t think students develop sophisticated learning skills without the chance to practice, and in most classrooms the teacher gets far more practice than the students.
- Learner-centred teaching includes explicit skill instruction. Learner-centred teachers teach students how to think, solve problems, evaluate evidence, analyse arguments, generate hypotheses—all those learning skills essential to mastering material in the discipline. They do not assume that students pick up these skills on their own, automatically. A few students do, but they tend to be the students most like us and most students aren’t like that. Research consistently confirms that skills develop faster if they are taught explicitly along with the content.
- Learner-centred teaching encourages students to reflect on what they are learning and how they are learning it. Learner-centred teachers talk about learning. In casual conversations, they ask students what they are learning. In class they may talk about their own learning. They challenge student assumptions about learning and encourage them to accept responsibility for decisions they make about learning; like how they study for exams, when they do assigned reading, whether they revise their writing or check their answers. Learner-centred teachers include assignment components in which students reflect, analyse and critique what they are learning and how they are learning it. The goal is to make students aware of themselves as learners and to make learning skills something students want to develop.
- Learner-centred teaching motivates students by giving them some control over learning processes. Teachers make too many of the decisions about learning for students. Teachers decide what students should learn, how they learn it, the pace at which they learn, the conditions under which they learn and then teachers determine whether students have learned. Students aren’t in a position to decide what content should be included in the course or which textbook is best, but when teachers make all the decisions, the motivation to learn decreases and learners become dependent. Learner-centred teachers search out ethically responsible ways to share power with students. They might give students some choice about which assignments they complete. They might make classroom policies something students can discuss. They might let students set assignment deadlines within a given time window. They might ask students to help create assessment criteria.
- Learner-centred teaching encourages collaboration. It sees classrooms (online or face-to-face) as communities of learners. Learner-centred teachers recognise, and research consistently confirms, that students can learn from and with each other. Certainly the teacher has the expertise and an obligation to share it, but teachers can learn from students as well. Learner-centred teachers work to develop structures that promote shared commitments to learning. They see learning individually and collectively as the most important goal of any educational experience.
Toward Innovative Pedagogies for using OER to Promote OEP to Promote Requisite Skills
‘Delivering OER to the still dominant model of teacher-centred knowledge transfer will have little effect on equipping teachers, students and workers with the competences, knowledge and skills to participate successfully in the knowledge economy and society… [there is] the need to foster open practices of teaching and learning that are informed by a competency-based educational framework’ (Geser, 2012, p.12).
Innovative pedagogical models, targeted at developing requisite, relevant competencies, are important in defining and enacting OEP.
Conole and Ehlers (2010, p.1) argue that more emphasis needs to be placed on using OER to promote quality and innovation in teaching and learning. Similarly, Campbell (2012) differentiates between ‘open education’ and ‘opening education’. Campbell contends that open is
‘not merely a quality to adopt or a direction to pursue, but a certain attitude or mindset towards systems and the desires those systems empower and focus’.
As such, Campbell argues that most so called ‘open education’ discussed today uses the new technology to merely do old things (instructivist model) in new ways, and is not truly OEP. He provides online learning and xMOOCs as examples of new technology that calls itself OEP, but that is merely doing old things in new ways; ways that do nothing to further challenge and develop students in owning their learning, promote the importance of engaging with others in their learning, and in innovating than continuing to deliver the traditional model of education. Opening education Campbell claims, shifts the focus to doing new things (for example,, developing new capacities) in new ways (for example,, using OER). Open Education should strive to promote what Bloom (1984) calls a radically higher academic level in learners, to use OER to develop networked learners who can self-organise, co-create, innovate, and peer-validate (Campbell, 2012). Similarly, Mott and Wiley (2009) claim that the ubiquitous course management system (CMS) used by many universities at worst merely does old things in new ways, and at best, severely limits learner access to OER. They contend that the CMS ‘reinforces the status quo and hinders substantial teaching and learning innovation in higher education. It does so by imposing artificial time limits on learner access to course content and other learners, privileging the role of the instructor at the expense of the learner, and limiting the power of the network effect in the learning process’ (p. 3).
Authentic Activities for Student-centred
To develop requisite skill sets using new pedagogical models, Reeves, Herrington, and Oliver (2002, p. 562) recommend the following ten criteria to consider in the projects selected to promote learning:
- Authentic activities have real-world relevance: Activities match as nearly as possible the real-world tasks of professionals in practice rather than decontextualised or classroom-based tasks.
- Authentic activities are ill-defined, requiring students to define the tasks and sub-tasks needed to complete the activity. Problems inherent in the activities are ill-defined and open to multiple interpretations rather than being easily solved by the application of existing algorithms. Learners must identify their own unique tasks and sub-tasks in order to complete the major task.
- Authentic activities comprise complex tasks to be investigated by students over a sustained period of time. Activities are completed in days, weeks and months rather than minutes or hours. They require significant investment of time and intellectual resources.
- Authentic activities provide the opportunity for students to examine the task from different perspectives, using a variety of resources. The task affords learners the opportunity to examine the problem from a variety of theoretical and practical perspectives, rather than allowing a single perspective that learners must imitate to be successful. The use of a variety of resources rather than a limited number of preselected references requires students to detect relevant, from irrelevant information.
- Authentic activities provide the opportunity to collaborate. Collaboration is integral to the task, both within the course and the real world, rather than solely achievable by an individual learner.
- Authentic activities provide the opportunity to reflect. Activities need to enable learners to make choices and reflect on their learning both individually and socially.
- Authentic activities can be integrated and applied across different subject areas and lead beyond domain-specific outcomes. Activities encourage interdisciplinary perspectives and enable diverse roles and expertise rather than a single well-defined field or domain.
- Authentic activities are seamlessly integrated with assessment. Assessment of activities is seamlessly integrated with the major task in a manner that reflects real world assessment, rather than separate artificial assessment removed from the nature of the task.
- Authentic activities create polished products valuable in their own right rather than as preparation for something else. Activities culminate in the creation of a whole product rather than an exercise or sub-step in preparation for something else.
- Authentic activities allow competing solutions and diversity of outcome. Activities allow a range and diversity of outcomes open to multiple solutions of an original nature, rather than a single correct response obtained by the application of rules and procedures.