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Presenting and Promoting Open Pedagogy Through Different Frameworks

by Hayley Battaglia on 2021-09-20T11:02:00-04:00 in Open Pedagogy Series | Comments

Editors' Note: The following post was written by Eastern Connecticut State University Assistant Professor, Dr. Nicolas Simon, and three Eastern students who collaborated on Open Pedagogy. It is the first in an ongoing series on Open Pedagogy.

Authors: Tara Nguyen, Jean Rienzo, Nicolas Simon, and Maya Vanderberg

photo of a pile of textbooks in front of a bookshelf
This image by Inayaysad is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.


Using new pedagogy in a classroom is always associated with a fear of the unknown. Students, and at the beginning instructors, are unsure of the result. Will it work? Will the objectives be met? Will it be a positive learning experience? To resolve these concerns, it is important to take the time to explain and re-explain what we are doing, how, why, and when. In the following, I will explain how I presented and promoted Open Pedagogy (OP) to my students through three different frameworks: the Social Justice framework, the Liberal Arts framework, and the Employability framework. 

But what is Open Pedagogy? Tietjen and Asino presented the different components of Open Pedagogy which are:

“1. First, OP recognizes the diversity and culture of the learners by welcoming them as design partners in the conversation.

2. Second, OP is a participatory pedagogy for multiple stakeholders.

3. Third, open licenses are central to OP’s ability to thrive and grow because they allow for vital practices such as modifying, reusing, and remixing. (We do, however, acknowledge the inherent conflicts in open licenses and agree that they may not be cross-culturally informed.)

4. Fourth, OP actively encourages learners, both inside and outside school settings, to share, review, edit, and contribute resources and, as a result, promote the development of a knowledge-building community.

5. Fifth, OP fosters a culture of collaboration through practices of sharing, reviewing, and editing.” (2021, p. 196)

Before the beginning of the semester, I emailed my students to welcome them to the class. I asked them to read the syllabus, start exploring all the information I put in Blackboard, and start the assigned reading. I sent them the link to access the free book and explained in a short paragraph that I am using Open Educational Resources (OER) in my courses because the price of textbooks is extremely expensive. By doing so, I invited them to see that the cost of educational material is not incidental but a result of conscious choices which have consequences. It also helped me to introduce the open pedagogy assignment(s) during the first class of the semester.

Many definitions of Open Pedagogy exist. Instead of quoting one of them, I described the essence of OP (see Tietjen and Asino, 2021) and I shared my own vision; for me, OP is the next step of OER. OER is a gift to humanity and OP helps students who received the gift of free educational resources to reciprocate. Using OP, I invited students to create OER for college students, students in the local community, or people who use social media. As an educator, I made the decision to use OER and include OP in my courses. However, I did not work alone. The success of this experience was facilitated by my talented Teaching Assistants. They all had been my students in past courses and had a deep understanding of sociological material and the pedagogy I used. They shared my vision by working closely with students and answered all the questions that students might have otherwise felt uncomfortable asking. 

Venn diagram of social justice, liberal arts, employability

The three different frameworks I use in my class to promote Open Pedagogy.


Social Justice Framework1

During the first meeting of the semester, I explained that the price of textbooks in the United States is extremely expensive and that I consciously selected OER to promote economic inclusion. I explained that some students could not afford the prices of traditional commercial textbooks and that it is to the detriment of their education. All my students, regardless of their economic standing, praised my decision in this regard and were happy to not pay for the textbook. I also explained that economic inclusion removes only the barrier of access to the class and the materials.

Arrow graphic showing OER Economic Inclusion leading to OP Social and Cultural Inclusion
From Economic Inclusion to Social and Cultural Inclusion. Or how to use Open Pedagogy when using Open Educational Resources? (see Lutris & Simon, 2021)


I explained that I consciously decided to include at least one open pedagogy assignment to promote social and cultural inclusion. In my class, I invite students to collaborate in small groups in responding to the open pedagogy assignment(s). Students are free to work alone if they prefer. Most of the time, students who prefer to work alone mention their academic, professional, familial obligations (this is especially the case for commuters and non-traditional students) or their individualistic beliefs. However, students must work in groups to complete the peer review and evaluation stages of the material created. Group work is fundamental to social inclusion and the development of a network, what sociologists call “social capital.” Social capital is composed of “relationships which will provide, if necessary, useful ‘supports’” (Bourdieu, 1977, p. 503) and make "possible the achievement of certain ends that in its absence would not be possible" (Coleman, 1988, p. S98). When working in groups, students can develop their network (or social capital) and have access to knowledge or information (what Pierre Bourdieu names cultural capital, 1984, 1986) which helps them to succeed in an institution of higher education. This is especially true for underserved students. In addition, open pedagogy provides an opportunity for the voiceless to share their experience and knowledge which is too often ignored by academia. In this sense, open pedagogy promotes cultural inclusion.

Liberal Arts Education Framework

Committed to the Liberal Arts mission of Eastern Connecticut State University, I explained to my students how OP would help them to acquire or develop skills that they would be able to use in all the communities they belong to. A Liberal Arts education shapes every aspect of life and can be used in any kind of community (educational, professional, familial, and so on). I used the different rubrics created by the American Association of Colleges and University (Rhodes, 2010) to explain the different skills I focus on, how they will acquire or develop them with the assignments I selected, and how they would be able to transfer these skills into other aspects of their life. First, I focused on civic engagement skills and the active and engaged democratic essence of OP. Students were not consuming the material but participated in its creation with others and for others. Secondly, I invited my students to develop their reading and critical thinking skills. New materials can only be based on a deep understanding of knowledge which is analyzed, compared, contrasted, and challenged with other materials. Third, I invited students to challenge the individualistic frame by working together in the construction and evaluation of new materials. By working together, students were able to develop their oral communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. I explained that these skills are fundamental in a professional environment. Finally, by creating new materials, they are able to develop their creative thinking and written communication skills.

Employability Framework

I finished my explanation of OP using the employability framework. I reused the Liberal Arts framework and explained how each skill would help students in their future work. I invited them to use the liberal arts framework to prepare a job interview in which they will have to explain how their education prepared them for the work and how they will be able to use all these skills to serve the mission of the company. I asked them to explain how they learned these skills and to illustrate with concrete examples. I explained that they will not be able to discuss an academic paper they wrote during a job interview but that a future employer will be interested by 1) what is the open product they created, 2) how they created, by themselves or in group, an open product, and 3) how they share it with others. I invited them to include the open product in their resume and portfolio.


Based on specific discipline, program, institution, professional organization, and personality, many more frameworks can be used to explain open pedagogy assignments to our college students. This short post describes the frameworks I used. As useful as they are, I invite you to select the frameworks which make the most sense to you, as a pedagogue, your students, and the relationships you will develop (with your students, colleagues, members of your professional networks, the members of the local community etc.) in this great adventure of creating educational material with and for others.



Bali, M., Cronin, C., & Jhangiani, R. S. (2020). Framing Open Educational Practices from a Social Justice Perspective. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2020(1), 10.

Bourdieu, P. (1977). Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction. In J. Karabel & A. H. Halsey (Eds.), Power and Ideology in Education (pp. 487-511). Oxford University Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Routledge.

Bourdieu, P. (1986). The Forms of Capital. In J. G. Richardson (Eds.), Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education (pp. 241-258). Greenwood.

Coleman, J. (1988). Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital. American Journal of Sociology Supplement, 94, S95-S120.

Lambert, S. R. (2018). Changing our (dis)course: A distinctive social justice aligned definition of open education. Journal of Learning for Development, 5(3), 225-244.¬cle/view/290

Lutris, H., & Simon, N. P. 2021. The True and False promise of Open Educational Resources, or, how Open Educational Resources are condemned to wither without Open Pedagogy. International Journal of Open Educational Resources. 4(1): 187-198.

Rhodes, T. (2010). Assessing outcomes and improving achievement: Tips and tools for using rubrics. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Tietjen, P., & Asino, T. I. (2021). What Is Open Pedagogy? Identifying Commonalities. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 22(2), 185-204.

1. Regarding the Open Pedagogy and Social Justice, I recommend Bali, Cronin, & Jhangiani (2020) and Lambert (2018).



About the Authors


Dr. Nicolas Simon photoDr. Nicolas P. Simon is an assistant professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology, and Social Work at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic Connecticut. His major research interests include sociology of higher education, first-generation college students, community service, Open Educational Resources, Open Pedagogy, and sociological theories. Dr. Simon holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree from Université de Caen in France.


Tara Nguyen photoTara Nguyen (she/her/hers) is currently a Sociology MA/PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a BA in Sociology and minor in Political Science in May 2021. Her undergraduate thesis was on the Asian American achievement gap and dismantling the model minority myth. Nguyen is primarily interested in research pertaining to race and education, with a particular focus on Asian Americans.


Jean Rienzo photoJean Rienzo is a proudly non-traditional student at Eastern Connecticut State University finishing her Bachelors in Sociology this fall. Jean has centered her academic and advocacy journey around intersectional feminism and LGBT issues while raising her young daughter. Jean is passionate about finding ways to marry public policy with practicality and social consciousness.


Maya Vanderberg photoMaya Vanderberg (she/they) is a junior at Eastern Connecticut State University, working toward a Bachelor's in Sociology and Pre-law. She is currently developing her undergraduate thesis on the effects of "quality of life policing" on homeless community members. She is passionate about LGBTQ+ rights, Antiracism, and public policy and resource distribution as it relates to housing insecurity.


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