Open Pedagogy

After listening to the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast with Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, I went looking for a definition of ‘open pedagogy.’ Though I wasn’t able to find one clear definition, it seems to me that the goals of open pedagogy are to engage students in their own learning, and to overcome barriers to education (e.g. cost).

In a TEDx talk, David Wiley says “teachers who are the best teachers, are the ones who share the most completely with the most students.” His point here is that educators should be open in sharing their expertise and experiences. After all, you can “share [your expertise]… without losing it.” Education is about openly sharing ideas back and forth, and collaboratively creating new ideas.

The use of open educational resources (OER), including open textbooks and open access journal articles, can substantially reduce costs of students. Students may find themselves asking: “After paying the high price of tuition, why is the information I’m supposed to be getting still behind a $1000 paywall?” Even worse, the additional cost may prohibit some students from being able to afford to enroll.

Traditional textbooks often get updated every 5-or-so years. Often for introductory textbooks, the new edition of a book might simply rearrange the order of the chapters, or add a few new figures– which probably isn’t worth the $150 price tag. I realize the need for updates can vary by field and sub-field. For fields that are rapidly changing, open textbooks may also be advantageous because they can be revised by experts right away instead of waiting five years for a new book to be published.



5 Rs of OER: retain, redistribute, remix, reuse, reise

Open Access Journals

BMC Physiology is an open access journal that I explored. BioMed Central (BMC) is a part of Springer Nature, is one of the largest open access publishers, and publishes many journals in different fields. BMC Physiology specifically publishes peer-reviewed articles about physiological processes- from the cellular to organismal level. All articles published in this journal “are made freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication.”[1]

In addition to open access journals, there are many peer-reviewed subscription journals that give authors the option to publish their articles with open access for a fee. While the open-access model certainly seems to increase transparency in research, it is not perfect. While articles in open-access publications are free to readers, there may be high costs to authors to publish in these journals. Additionally, as authors and readers, we should be aware of predatory open-access journals, which are not reputable and will print any article submitted as long as the fee is paid.


The Authentic Teaching Self

When I began reading Sarah Deel’s “Finding my Teaching Voice,” the very first line, in which she says “when [she] began teaching… all [she] knew about teaching came from watching [her] own teachers over the 16 years [she’d] spent in school,” resonated with me. I feel that’s the same mindset that I’m in right now– often thinking about instructors I’ve had in the past, and what they did that I liked and disliked.

I realize that I’m making (at least) two somewhat problematic assumptions in this line of thinking:

(1) That I should emulate those who have come before me.
Sarah Deel’s essay dives into this one. She ultimately comes to the conclusion that your teaching style comes from within. That being said, it can be difficult to sit down and answer, “who am I?” To complicate things further, I (and everyone else, I imagine) can be very different in different contexts. So the real question is, “who am I when I teach?” What parts of my personality do I want to accentuate as a teacher?

(2) That the type of instruction that I responded well to as a student is what others will respond to as well.
What I find most helpful or engaging in the classroom isn’t necessarily what others respond to, so trying to base my own teaching style off of what I like in a teacher may not be the best method. Students have different learning styles, and come from different backgrounds and with different skills. While it’s probably impossible to cater to every student’s style (although that may depend on how many students you have), I try to keep in mind that having some variety is important.


As I looked through the misconduct case summaries on the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) website, I couldn’t help but think “these are only the people who have been caught.” In the case of Ricky Malhotra, falsified/fabricated data had been used on 13 different documents in a period of over 5 years. In some cases, results were reported from experiments that hadn’t even been performed.

I also thought of an article I read a few months ago in which the author says “if you keep rearranging, testing, breaking down and putting together over and over, you can generally find something that comes out looking as if it were significant.” This was also referring to a researcher who had to retract several articles after inconsistencies were discovered. Both cases show that unless someone speaks up, incidents of research misconduct can be ongoing for many years. Checks on research findings exist but are by no means foolproof, and there is a general trust that academics report full and accurate information.

Classroom Engagement

As we watched Michael Wesch’s TEDx talk in class on Wednesday, I found myself relating to his students. With each statement presented in the video, I thought back to my time as an undergraduate student.
I complete 49% of the readings assigned to me. 
I buy hundred dollar textbooks that I never open.
And then get $10 for them when you try to sell them back to the bookstore. By junior year, I had stopped buying textbooks altogether.
My neighbor paid for class… but never comes.
I’ve been guilty of being that neighbor in some classes. Personally, the classes I enjoyed most have emphasized application. My favorite course as an undergraduate was biochemistry. I was so happy to be done with memorizing endless chemical reactions and start thinking, instead, about how different stimuli affect the human body. I was excited to share my thoughts on case studies rather than filling in bubbles on scantrons. The question of how to engage students doesn’t always have an easy answer. I would say that students are most engaged when they can see the usefulness or relevance of their course material to their lives. This is easier in courses like the 20-student biochemistry course I took as an undergraduate, where instructors and students can get to know each other. But when I start thinking about how to keep a lecture hall full of 400 students engaged, admittedly I’m stumped. I see similar challenges to creating engagement and meaningful discussions when using online platforms in education. The internet is amazing in that it lets us connect to practically anyone on the planet synchronously or asynchronously; and certainly the availability of online courses makes education more accessible by removing geographic barriers. However, whether online or in-person, the question of how to get students to engage critically with course material remains.