Interrogating OEP Open Pedagogy

Intersections of Social Justice and Open Pedagogy

This past week, my “Open 4 Social Justice” class reflected on Lambert’s (2018) social justice aligned definition of open education. Discussion ensued about critically examining open educational practices from the lenses of redistributive justice, recognitive justice, and representational justice, with a question posed about which of these is the most important? While we all tended to agree that each of these is essential to the goals of open education, many identified recognitive and representational justice as being what is needed in today’s world.

“Open Education is the development of free digitally enabled learning materials and experiences primarily by and for the benefit and empowerment of non-privileged learners who may be under-represented in education systems or marginalised in their global context. Success of social justice aligned programs can be measured not by any particular technical feature or format, but instead by the extent to which they enact redistributive justice, recognitive justice and/or representational justice.” -Sarah Lambert

Changing our (Dis)Course: A Distinctive Social Justice Aligned Definition of Open Education (Lambert, 2018, p. 15)

I’ve been thinking about those forms of justice a lot this week and decided to take a dive into the Open Pedagogy Notebook to connect examples of open pedagogy with recognitive and representational justice. The Open Pedagogy Notebook is a website designed for educators to learn more about open pedagogy through examples of projects, which include both classroom-tested practices and budding ideas, and to consider contributing examples of your own experiments with open pedagogy. Now, on to what I found:

Recognitive Justice

Recognitive Justice – Bert van den Brink

If recognitive justice means showing respect and acknowledging various perspectives in teaching and learning materials, then this project, Students Creating a Shared Annotated Bibliography, seems to be a great way to do so.

In a course focused on Immigration and Refugees in a European Context, Dr. Delene White invites her students to add sources to an annotated bibliography. She helps her students ask critical questions, such as “What does it mean to be called illegal or criminal”. Her students conduct research and readings related to their critical questions and add their annotations of the sources they find to the ever developing annotated bibliography. As a result, students are adding perspectives vary across sources showing respect and recognition to many different viewpoints.

Representational Justice

What surprised me in my search on Open Pedagogy Notebook is that it was relatively easy to find an example of recognitive justice. However, it was very difficult to find an example of representational justice, or ensuring that marginalized peoples’ stories are told by them, that they are represented.

One project that I found and as somewhat related to representational justice was Student-Created Open “Textbooks” as Course Communities by Robin DeRosa. In this project, Robin discusses how centering students in the work of creating open textbooks also creates a community of learners since “students keenly understand what is challenging about the material, how to explain it to their peers, and what explanations will resonate with new learners”. In this way, college students are represented in the textbooks they are learning from. Often college professors view their students as those with lesser knowledge that they need to fill with knowledge. This project, instead, sees students as co-constructors of knowledge in communities learning together.

Concluding Thought

In open pedagogy, the goal is often to empower. However, we must critically examine these practices in order to ensure they uphold a social justice aligned definition of open education. To do so, I believe that more examples of representational justice through open pedagogy need to be shared in open places such as the Open Pedagogy Notebook.

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