Benefits of Open pedagogy — reflections on #OER22 conference
In April, I attended the Association for Learning Technology’s Open Educational Resources (OER) Conference in London. Apart from being my first face-to-face conference after the Covid-19 pandemic, it was also my first TEL conference. I have met a bunch of advanced techy and principle-driven academics, learning technologists and designers. If you are interested, go to ALT’s website for more information about their future events.
Since the OER and the Open Education Practices (OEP) are still in their infancy, the movement, I would call it, faces several challenges on policy, quality, and innovation fronts. However, I believe that with time and commitment to equitable and accessible education, we can overcome the barriers to making knowledge a public good. I heard about numerous and encouraging innovative projects that led to open textbooks and successful open education practices. So, to keep my blog focused, I like to talk to you about one thing that stayed with me after the #OER22 conference.
When I heard Dr Atenas saying that she introduced collective responsibility to her students at one of the projects she ran for the University of Nova Gorica in Slovenia, I could not grasp the objective of this form of pedagogy motivated by OPE. Therefore, I allowed myself the time to reflect on what could be the benefits for the student to learn collectively by supporting each other’s learning. I identified a number of benefits that this form of pedagogy may offer to the learners, and out of many, I like to highlight three of those benefits.
Since students are asked to help each other with their learning, I presume that there must be the anticipation that there would be relatively more advanced students in understanding the task than the rest. The pedagogy of ‘collective responsibility for learning’, as a result, does allow those advanced groups of students to have a chance to be leaders in a teaching environment, leading others in meeting the learning outcomes of the project. In this way, I believe students are provided with conditions in which they can gain experience in being responsible for the advancement of others for the benefit of a project that they are working on. They learn to be visionary, encouraging, flexible, dependable and responsible. Ultimately, this form of pedagogy grants an excellent opportunity for the students to gain these interpersonal skills, something they could utilise in employment after graduating.
The other benefit of this form of pedagogy is that it provides the physical context to the students in which they can gain experience in working in teams. I do not know about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses. However, those studying towards a degree in Politics work on their own most of the time, except in seminars if there is a group discussion. However, the pedagogy of collective responsibility allows learners to work in teams and practice being team members to complete the task or the project. Therefore, this opens the doors for every student involved to gain teamwork skills, particularly in defining roles and responsibilities and understanding how their contributions matter. This is another transferable skill students could benefit from when and if they are employed.
Another benefit that comes with the practice of this form of pedagogy is that it allows students to practice their communication skills. Students tend to socialise or work within their little groups at all levels of their education at the expense of being oblivious to others. As a result of which, they do miss out on meeting others who may be coming from a different background or who may have a diverging political stand from theirs. However, if they have to work together and support each other’s learning, they would have to communicate with others who they may have avoided speaking with before. In this case, they can learn to be good listeners and empathetic, talk concisely and project themselves confidently. Again, this is another transferable skill that would benefit students after graduating; mainly, it would be essential to have in the workplace since we cannot choose whom we work with or for, but with excellent communications skills, we could work with anyone.
In conclusion, I am not practising teaching now; therefore, I cannot say I will adopt this form of pedagogy in the courses I teach. However, having attended a launch event at the University College London organised by the UCL Centre for the Pedagogy of Politics, I am cautiously proposing you to ask your students to be responsible for each other learning in the next project you run, purely because I heard that Higher Education institutions in the United Kingdom are slightly conservative in adopting new types of pedagogies. At the same time, I felt relieved that academics are pushing for incremental changes, which means experimenting with new pedagogies in teaching, particularly in Politics and Sociology. In my next blog, I will be looking at this movement in more detail.