5Rs for Open Pedagogy

I have been thinking about the values and ideals that underpin open pedagogy for me. I say for me because these are personal, subjective, and contextual. This is similar to the concept of open pedagogy itself, which most of us are quite happy to have multiple definitions and understandings of (here’s one take from Robin and me, along with many others curated by the wonderful Maha Bali). In this iteration I am choosing to impose a constraint on my thinking by repurposing David Wiley’s structure of the 5R permissions of open educational resources to form a parallel construction. In doing so I am knowingly privileging concision and catchiness over complexity and comprehensiveness (this is why this list is 5Rs for, and not of, open pedagogy). I therefore encourage you to build upon, refine, contextualize, challenge, completely discard, or replace mine with your own, as you see fit.


A green circle around the words "open pedagogy." The circle includes the words: respect, reciprocate, risk, reach, and resist.

for the agency of students and creators, including whether they wish to perform public scholarship or not, and, if they do, what specific license or label they are comfortable applying to their intellectual property. Be mindful of the labour that goes into open pedagogy, visible and invisible. Not everything could or should be open. Open pedagogy without respect for agency is exploitation.


by not just drawing on but also contributing back to the commons, by sharing resources, practices, and ideas and helping to build upon and contextualize the resources, practices, and ideas of others. Practice good citizenship of the commons. Open pedagogy is about community.


is ever present with open pedagogy, from the platforms that we utilize that mine and monetize our intellectual labour and the digital footprints that we require our students to leave in the course of their education to the open sharing of unpolished ideas and practices that leave us exposed and open to criticism and judgment. Open pedagogy involves vulnerabilities and risks that are not distributed evenly and that should not be ignored or glossed over. These risks are substantially higher for women, students and scholars of colour, precarious faculty, and many other groups and voices that are marginalized by the academy.


involves having an impact that extends well beyond the classroom, a course, or a semester, beyond the artificial divides between formal and informal learners, beyond what could possibly be envisioned when crafting precise and predetermined learning objectives. Open pedagogy takes on a life of its own because learning is living.


against forces that conspire to pit increasingly precarious faculty against increasingly precarious students. Resist against the commodification of learning. Resist against the neoliberal university. Resist being brokers for surveillance capitalism. Open pedagogy is not a panacea but it strives to be antiracist, democratizing, liberatory, and decolonized.


Photo by Aashish R Gautam on Unsplash


I am grateful to my dear friend and collaborator Robin DeRosa for providing me with feedback on this post.

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