Clearly, there is a lot of value in sharing resources and ideas with others through open educational resources (OER). While the benefits are well-established (Weller et al., 2015), the act of sharing your knowledge with the world can seem intimidating and risky since you are sharing a part of yourself with the world. It can feel like feeding yourself to a pack of wolves because (let’s face it) people can be judgy and mean!
That’s why, when instructors invite students to share their work, they may immediately balk at the invitation. However, with the right learning community and a supportive environment build on trust and openness, I think that sharing and collaborating is valuable. What are those elements that create trust and openness? To answer this question, I build on the 5R’s FOR open pedagogy defined by Rajiv Jhangiani.
I was always taught that respect is a two way street. You give respect by holding others’ feelings, wishes, rights, traditions, and so on, in high regard. At the same time, you expect others to do the same with yours. In open pedagoy, respect means allowing others to make decisions for themselves on what they want to share, how they want to share, and who they want to share it as. Simultaneously, I expect others to respect what I am sharing and adhere to the license I applied to my work in how they use it.
Community is one of the richest aspects of open education, in my opinion. Without people willing to share their work, ideas, and knowledge, we wouldn’t have OER. Therefore, reciprocity means being a good citizen of OER by being willing to share resources, practices, and ideas and/or contributing to the development of resources, practices, and ideas. The old say “it takes a village” equally applies to the open education community.
There are many risks to open pedagogy from companies that monetize OER and knowledge and resources shared on the Internet to the criticism and judgment of others, particularly for groups who are marginalized and often face discrimination (such as women, people of color, and so on). Acknowledging, minimizing these risks to the degree possible, and protecting those vulnerable is important for creating trust and openness.
In his post, Jhangiani states “open pedagogy takes on a life of its own because learning is living.” In my view, increasing impact beyond my classroom, specific course objectives, our college, and even the confines of formal learning opportunities builds openness. Allowing learners the agency and autonomy in what they are learning and how they will share that knowledge builds trust and expands their reach as learners both now and for their future.
OER resists the tradition of closing knowledge to only those who can afford to purchase it. Thus, open pedagogy resists confining learning to the walls (literal or figurative) of a classroom. To build a more just society, we need to hear the voices of our students and resist practices and traditional learning structures that silence them. Foster opportunities for all to be heard in ways that are comfortable for each unique individual.
With these five guiding principles, trust and openness can be built within a community that respects, reciprocates, takes risks, extends their reach, and resists. No longer will it feel like feeding yourself to a pack of wolves; rather, you will become “one of the pack.” (I know, forgive my corniness in this blog post!)