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Are you familiar with open learning as an approach to education? Are open learning and open pedagogy the same thing? What does open pedagogy look like in practice?

Open Learning

In a report prepared by Saide (2000) for the South African Department of Education, the authors dispel certain misconceptions about open learning that have developed over time.

Firstly, open learning is not the same as distance education. The idea of open distance learning creates a false expectation that all distance learning is open. There are many instances of distance learning that do not provide open access or lead to success. In addition, face-to-face learning can be open. Open learning is an approach that has the potential to promote openness within a whole educational system.

Secondly, open learning is relevant to all fields of education, not just adult education.

And finally, open learning goes beyond opening learning through isolated, individual educational projects.

'The principles of open learning provide a set of benchmarks against which all aspects of any educational system (international, national, provincial, or institutional) can be measured. This process can lead to improvements in the underlying design of such system, because it can remove unnecessary closure and consolidate closure where it is important to the efficient and financially viable functioning of the system.' (Saide, 2000) 

In this report, Saide (2000) suggests that,

'open learning [is] an approach to education which seeks to remove all unnecessary barriers to learning, while aiming to provide learners with a reasonable chance of success in an education and training system centred on their specific needs and located in multiple arenas of learning.'

Open Pedagogy

There has been much debate about the link between open pedagogy, open educational resources (OER), OER-Enabled Pedagogy (Wiley & Hilton, 2018) and open educational practice (OEP). 

In an article published in the International Journal of Open Educational Resources (IJOER), 'Towards a Working Definition of Open Pedagogy,' Witt (2020) proposes a working definition of open pedagogy as  'any pedagogy informed by the practitioners’ conscious identification with the open movement, open access, and open educational resources.' He suggests that OER-enabled pedagogy and open educational practices address the how, [and] open pedagogy addresses the why.

In this spirit we want to share our conception of open pedagogy as part of an open learning approach. We are interested not only in what open pedagogy means, but also in the why and the how. We use a set of open learning principles to help us understand why open pedagogy is necessary, but also what it means in practice.

Open Learning Principles

Over time, Saide (2019) has developed and adapted a set of open learning principles and categorised them as follows:

1. Increasing access for success 

  • Learners have meaningful and affordable access to opportunities for lifelong learning.
  • Unnecessary barriers to access are removed.
  • Wherever appropriate, learning provision is flexible, allowing learners to increasingly determine where, when, what and how they learn, as well as the pace at which they will learn.

2. Enabling success

  • Providers create the conditions for learner success through learner support, contextually appropriate resources and sound pedagogical practices.
  • Learning processes centre on the learners and contexts of learning, build on their experience and encourage active engagement leading to independent and critical thinking.

3. Continuing success

  • Prior learning and experience is recognised wherever possible.
  • Arrangements for credit transfer and articulation between qualifications facilitate further learning.

The intention is for educational practitioners to apply these principles as part of an ongoing process of evaluation and improvement, to develop meaningful educational opportunities, regardless of the 'mode of delivery' used.

Open pedagogy is not just about open content

Wiley (2013) spoke about open pedagogy as “that set of teaching and learning practices only possible in the context of the free access and 4R permissions characteristic of open educational resources” (Wiley, 2013, final paragraph). Conole (2010) defined open educational practices as “a set of activities and support around the creation, use and re-purposing of Open Educational Resources (OERs)”. So open pedagogy (and open educational practices) assumes access to content and resources in the form of OER.

For us, access can mean many things. Hegarty (2015) associated open pedagogy with attributes such as participatory technologies; people, openness, trust; innovation & creativity; sharing ideas & resources, connected community; learner generated; reflective practice; and peer review. So, we need to think about access to technology, or access to data, for example. Particularly in this time of Covid, when most students are online (if they have access to data and technology) and remote we also think of access to people — each other and their lecturers.

What about access to the learning process? Think about university students you know of who struggle with reading, either because most, if not all, of the reading is in academic English and they do not have the experience of reading those kinds of texts. Or the student who has an educational background that has not prepared them well for post-school study. You may be thinking about a student who has work experience, but not in their direct field of study. For these students, access is about language, level, and what students already know. 

In our view, open pedagogy asks the question: how do we provide learning opportunities for students in ways that remove barriers to access, and scaffold and mediate learning in ways that support students to succeed?

Understanding open pedagogy

At the heart of our understanding open pedagogy is understanding how people learn. One of the open learning principles for enabling success is that,

'learning processes centre on the learners and contexts of learning, build on their experience and encourage active engagement leading to independent and critical thinking' (Saide, 2019).'

We have developed a set of requirements for giving practical expression to this principle.

People learn by doing things that lead them to construct their own new knowledge. Reading, creating a mind map, doing an interview, planning a learning session, creating a model, doing an experiment, or teaching a class are all examples of being actively engaged in the learning process. If an action is facilitated or mediated in some way, students begin to understand and reflect on their action, and in that way start to internalise what they have learned.

Telling or transmitting information results in limited learning. For deeper learning to occur, people need to engage in a meaningful activity and then reflect on what they have done to learn something from it. This is an active rather than a passive conception of how we gain new knowledge.

Learning is structured around key activities that build up into identified learning pathways. There are structural links between programmes, modules, units and activities.

An important concept in open pedagogy is the idea of three presences: social presence, teacher presence and cognitive presence.

The most important thing you can do to make online learning accessible, meaningful and successful is to engage students in supportive and collaborative active learning. Create a presence. Create a set of learning activities that engages students in meaningful thought (cognitive presence), discussion with other students (social presence) with you as a critical and compassionate guide (teacher presence). Saide (2020)

Let’s explore the following activity template to unpack open pedagogy a bit more. Scroll down in the block to use the interactive template.

Open pedagogy and open learning principles

Stop and think

Which of the open learning principles are supported by our concept of an open pedagogy?

Our concept of open pedagogy supports student access to active learning, supporting them to reflect, think critically and solve problems. In open pedagogy, the materials “become a mediator” (Moll & Drew 2008), facilitating a conversation between and amongst the students and the teacher and supporting progress through the identified learning pathways. Open pedagogy supports students to succeed and equips them for critical lifelong learning.

Are you open?

Additional Resources

For further ideas about activity based learning, access the following online module: Designing Engaging Learning Activities

Conole, G. (2010). Defining open educational practices (OEP) [Blog post]. http://e4innovation.com/?p=373

Hegarty, B. (2015). Attributes of open pedagogy: A model for using open educational resources. Educational Technology, 3-13. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ca/

Laurillard, D. nd. Learning Design

Mhlanga, E. 2009. Enriching online learning experience: the three ‘presences’, Saide.

Moll, I & Drew, S. 2008. Learning, a learning spiral and Materials Design, SAIDE, WIP.

OER Africa. 2020. Online assessment: How do we know if students are learning successfully?

Saide. 2000. Open Learning in South African General and Further Education and Training: Report Prepared for the South African Department of Education, May 2000.

Saide, 2003. What is a Learning-centred Learning Centre? p26.

Saide, 2019. Open learning principles Enabling successful learning

Saide, 2020. Quality Online Teaching and Learning, an online course

Wiley, D. (2013, October 21). What is open pedagogy? Iterating toward openness [Blog post]. http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/2975

Witt, A N. 2020 Towards a Working Definition of Open Pedagogy, IJOER, https://www.ijoer.org/towards-a-working-definition-of-open-pedagogy/

What's New

Assessment always has a purpose. We need to be clear on that purpose in our learning design work. But that purpose can vary. In this article aimed at educators, we explore assessment of, for, and as learning to think about the purpose of assessment and to help us think about integrated summative assessment.

 

Image courtesy of  Lagos Techie. Unsplash

Assessment always has a purpose. We need to be clear on that purpose in our learning design work. But that purpose can vary. In this article aimed at educators, we explore assessment of, for, and as learning to think about the purpose of assessment and to help us think about integrated summative assessment.

In a previous article about online assessment, we asked ‘How do we know if students are learning?’ We spoke about the value of formative assessment as part of activity-based teaching and learning. We suggested that formative assessment activities form an important part of an integrated summative assessment strategy.

But what do we mean? Traditionally,

"Formative assessment occurs before or during teaching. It is a way of assessing students’ progress, providing feedback and making decisions about further instructional activities. It is assessment for learning purposes. Summative assessment is conducted after instruction primarily as a way to document what students know, understand and can do. It is an assessment of learning and its aim is to ‘sum up’ the learning that has taken place." (Waspe, 2020)

But Waspe goes on to say:

"There isn’t always a clear split between formative and summative assessment: some activities may fall somewhere in the middle. For example, a test at the end of a section of material may be used for marks (summative) but the lecturer may also analyse it to identify which competences need strengthening going forward (formative)." (Waspe, 2020)

Assessment and learning

We know there is an integral relationship between assessment and learning. We can see this when we unpack three important forms of assessment:

Assessment of learning

Assessment of learning measures the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values students have demonstrated at the end of a learning cycle.

Assessment for learning

Assessment for learning checks what students understand and can do as part of the learning process. It helps to identify any misunderstandings, difficulties, or gaps in knowledge so educators can adjust teaching to address these.

Assessment as learning

Assessment as learning involves the student ‘thinking about how they are thinking’ and using what they discover to make adjustments to how they approach learning. Assessment as learning helps students notice their own thoughts and processes, called metacognition, and make changes to those thoughts and processes, called self-regulation.

Let’s think about these three forms of assessment in relation to formative and summative assessment.

In his article about assessment for learning, Wiliam (2011) agrees with Bennett (2009) that it is unhelpful, and simplistic, to equate assessment for learning with formative assessment and assessment of learning with summative assessment. Bennett suggests that assessments designed primarily to serve a summative function may also function formatively, while those designed primarily to serve a formative function may also function summatively.

Let’s look at an example:

This is an example of an activity in which students are learning about the impact of globalisation in an economics course. Let’s analyse the activity for opportunities for assessment of learning, assessment for learning, and assessment as learning.

 Activity: The impact of globalisation 

 Purpose

Create a diagram which reflects the impact of globalisation on an industry of your choice

 Resources

Reading A

Reading B

 Task

 [60 minutes]

  1. In small groups, recall what you already know about globalisation, and share your thoughts.
  2. Individually research and read theories of globalisation, summarising the key ideas.
  3. Again in small groups, share your research findings. Use the theories to agree on a definition of globalisation and unpack different aspects of globalisation.
  4. Individually analyse each aspect of globalisation in relation to your chosen industry. Create a diagram which shows what you have learned.
  5. Write a short narrative summary to accompany the diagram, which shows your understanding of the impact of globalisation in your selected industry.

 Reflect, share and respond

  • Share your final diagram and narrative with your group peers.

 Feedback

  • Give and receive feedback from each other.
  • Refine your work if necessary.
  • Receive and read feedback from your educator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Example adapted from OER Africa: https://www.oerafrica.org/supporting-distance- learners/case-studies-using-asynchronous-communication

In this example, we believe we can identify all three forms of assessment:

Assessment of learning

Assessment for learning

Assessment as learning

  • What students already know
  • Agreeing on a definition and aspects of globalisation
  • Creating a diagram
  • Writing a narrative summary
  • Discussing with peers and critiquing final diagrams and narratives, students will identify what they don’t know and adapt their work accordingly.
  • The educator could ask students to submit both their first revised diagrams and narratives, for comparison purposes.
  • From the diagrams and narratives the educator will identify gaps and misconceptions to integrate into future teaching.

As part of the discussions, reflections, responses and feedback with each other and from their educator, students will be able to think about how they learned, what helped them to learn and how they can improve their learning strategies in future.One way of enhancing this aspect of assessment and learning would be to ask students explicit reflection questions about their learning.

 

Integrated activity-based summative assessment

What does this mean for how we think about integrated summative assessment?

Most definitions of integrated assessment include ideas about gathering and presenting evidence for judgement against standards, outcomes and criteria, using a combination of assessment methods and instruments, in different contexts, supporting learners to demonstrate understanding of theory in practice.

When we integrate assessment of, for, and as learning into activity-based teaching and learning, we design integrated (summative) assessment that supports integrated learning. In certain cases, it might be useful to think about summative (and formative) assessment as gathering evidence for the purposes of marking, recording, and promotion. But when we want to ‘stop worrying about testing and start thinking about learning’ and we are challenged to think about assessment differently for whatever reason, we can use activity-based teaching that integrates assessment for, of, and as learning to support and guide students’ learning towards success.

In the ‘Impact of globalisation’ example above, we saw the integration of assessment of, for, and as learning in a single activity. But integrated summative assessment could also be the integration of formative and summative assessment over a series of activities for a whole unit or module of study, or even a whole course.

The same basic rules of assessment will apply, so that activities are fair, reliable, and valid. Let’s consider what criteria and elements activity-based design would need to incorporate in order to constitute valid, fair, reliable, and integrated assessment of, for, and as learning:

  • Do the activities have a clear purpose that is clear to students?
  • Are the activities aligned to one or more outcomes?
  • Are the activities logically sequenced along a learning pathway?
  • Are the activities and tasks fit for purpose for different students in different contexts?
  • Is there a range of activities or tasks that give students the opportunity to engage and learn in different ways?
  • Are there clear guidelines that help students understand what they are expected to do individually or collaboratively?
  • Are all the activities accessible to all students, whether they have an Internet connection or not, whether they are on campus or not, whether they have access to devices or not?
  • Do all students have access to the resources necessary to do the activities?
  • Do the activities provide sufficient opportunities for students to collaborate?
  • Do the activities provide sufficient opportunities for students to reflect on their own and each other’s learning (self and peer reflection)?
  • Do the activities encourage students to give and receive feedback in meaningful ways?

Consider an assessment activity or task you have recently given to students. To what extent does the activity promote assessment of, for, and as learning? Which of the above criteria and elements does the activity address? What tasks can you add to the activity to ensure students have opportunities for assessment of learning, for learning, and as learning? What activities could you add, before or after this activity, to create a more integrated activity-based learning and assessment pathway as part of your materials design?

References

Bennett, R. E. (2009). A critical look at the meaning and basis of formative assessment (ETS RM-09-06). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

Waspe, T and Louton, B. (2020). Rethinking TVET Assessment, Advanced Diploma Technical and Vocational Training, DHET. (See also https://nols.gov.za/dhetnols/)

Wiliam, Dylan. (2011). ‘What is assessment for learning?’ Studies in Educational Evaluation. 37. 3-14. 10.1016/j.stueduc.2011.03.001.

Related articles

Access the OER Africa Communications Archive here

You may have seen ArXiv pop up in your science-related or open access repository searches. ArXiv is an open access repository for pre-prints and post-prints that have been moderated but not peer reviewed.

Image courtesy of National Cancer Institute, Unsplash

What is ArXiv?

You may have seen ArXiv pop up in your science-related or open access repository searches. For those of us who are still wondering how to say it, it is pronounced ’archive’. The X represents the Greek letter, c, which is pronounced ‘ch’ and thus spells out archive.  

ArXiv is an open access repository for pre-prints[1] and post-prints[2] that have been moderated but not peer reviewed. It was the first freely available, open access repository, established years before Creative Commons or other mechanisms were available or the Internet became ubiquitous. ArXiv was established in 1991 as a way for physicists and mathematicians to circulate their research for comment before peer review and publication in a journal. It was developed with distribution formats few people use today — File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Gopher, and Mosaic (the world’s first Internet browser). According to Wikipedia:[3]

In many fields of mathematics and physics, almost all scientific papers are self-archived on the arXiv repository before publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Some publishers also grant permission for authors to archive the peer-reviewed postprint.

ArXiv has become tremendously important for scientists worldwide. On this, its 30th birthday, there are almost 2 million articles posted on the site in physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics, electrical engineering, systems science, and economics. 

In the 30 years since ArXiv’s  founding, many additional servers for different disciplines and regions have been established, all on the Xiv model.  AfricArXiv, for Africa, is discussed in detail below. Two preprint servers in the biomedical sciences have received considerable attention because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the publication of several highly quoted articles in the mass media and research publications.[4]  But how much relevance do ArXiv and the other servers have for Africa?

How relevant are preprint servers to Africa?

ArXiv and the disciplinary servers that followed aim to help scientists worldwide share results and get feedback quickly without waiting for publication in journals.  Although bibliometric surveys have not been done for all of the servers, two in the biomedical sciences point to the paucity of African research appearing in them.  A 2020 survey of in eLife, of over 67,000 articles posted on bioRxiv found that international authorship and collaboration of African researchers was scant and most were not principal author.  Table 1 shows which were the 11 most published African countries in bioRxiv.[5]

Table 1: Which African countries publish the most in bioRxiv?

Figure 1: The good news[6]

When the researchers dug deeper into subject matter and where the research was carried out, they found:

Figure 2: Digging deeper[7]

This is important research for those of us who care about the contribution of African scientists to the global knowledge pool.  The role of scientists has evolved over the course of the pandemic – they are becoming more public-facing, which can significantly improve dissemination of accurate information in any given country.  Examples include Dr. Anthony Fauci[8] and Dr. John Nkengasong.[9] It is also important to encourage representation so that we can learn from other approaches and develop solutions that cater for diverse populations. 

 

AfricArXiv

In 2018, African scientists established an open access African preprint server, called AfricArXivto promote better visibility for African research and enhanced collaboration throughout the continent. AfricArXiv’s African focus has a special set of objectives, among them:

  • It is an African-owned open scholarly repository, a knowledge commons of African scholarly works to catalyze the African Renaissance.
  • Submissions must be relevant to Africa, with at least one African author.
  • Language is important in Africa, where AfricArXiv estimates that over 2,000 are spoken, a number which has been confirmed elsewhere.[10] All submissions must be accompanied by a summary in English and French to ease language gaps. Automated translation is allowed and must be acknowledged because these translations are not always accurate.  AfricArXiv also uses volunteer translators. In addition, AfricArXiv encourages postings in African languages and is partnering with Masakhane to undertake human translation of articles into African languages. AfricaArXiv writes about the significance of translation as follows:[11]

We encourage submissions in languages that are commonly used by the scientific community in the respective country, such as English, French, Swahili, Zulu, Afrikaans, Igbo, Akan, or other native African languages. Manuscripts submitted in non-English languages will be held in the moderation queue until we can get them verified. We herewith encourage you to suggest people who could assist in moderating in your language.

For those who want to know more about the significance of preprint servers, we encourage you to read Ten simple rules to consider regarding preprint submission, which was published in May 2017 in PLOS Computational Biology, an open access and highly prestigious journal. The article has been viewed over 44,000 times and cited 61 times.[12]

For those who would like more information on the lack of representation of African science in the journal literature, please see Where there is no local author: a network bibliometric analysis of authorship parasitism among research conducted in sub-Saharan Africa, published on 27 October 2021 in BMJ Global Health.[13]  It demonstrates how few African biomedical researchers receive recognition for research results from their own countries.  See also the journal’s editorial on ‘parachute’ research: Using scientific authorship criteria as a tool for equitable inclusion in global health research.[14]

 

This has been one of OER Africa’s communications on open knowledge, which we will continue to explore in future communications.


Related articles

Access the OER Africa Communications Archive here

 


[1] Wikipedia contributors. (2021b, October 8). Preprint. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preprint (CC BY-SA)

[2] Wikipedia contributors. (2021b, October 1). Postprint. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postprint (CC BY-SA)

[3] Wikipedia contributors. (2021, September 7). ArXiv. Wikipedia. Retrieved 13 October 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArXiv#Moderation_process_and_endorsement (CC BY)

[4] Ginsparg, P. Lessons from arXiv’s 30 years of information sharing. Nat Rev Phys 3, 602–603 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42254-021-00360-z (Freely available but copyright protected.  Springer Nature has a content-sharing initiative, which does not permit printing; the link for this article is https://rdcu.be/czHnW.

[5] Abdill RJ, Adamowicz EM, Blekhman R. International authorship and collaboration across bioRxiv preprints. Elife. 2020 Jul 27;9:e58496. doi: 10.7554/eLife.58496. PMID: 32716295; PMCID: PMC7384855. (CC BY)

[6] Guleid, F. H., Oyando, R., Kabia, E., Mumbi, A., Akech, S., & Barasa, E. (2021, March 17). A bibliometric analysis of COVID-19 research in Africa. MedRxiv. Retrieved 19 October 2021 from https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.03.15.21253589v1(CC BY)

[7] Guleid FH, Oyando R, Kabia E, et al, A bibliometric analysis of COVID-19 research in Africa, BMJ Global Health 2021; https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/5/e005690. (CC BY)

[10] Wikipedia contributors. (2021d, October 23). Languages of Africa. Wikipedia. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from Wikipedia contributors. (2021d, October 23). Languages of Africa. Wikipedia. Retrieved November3, 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Africa (CC BY)

[11] Languages – AfricArXiv. (n.d.). AfricArXiv. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://info.africarxiv.org/languages/ (CC BY)

[12] Bourne PE, Polka JK, Vale RD, Kiley R (2017) Ten simple rules to consider regarding preprint submission. PLoS Comput Biol 13(5): e1005473. Retrieved 20 October 2021 from https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005473 (CC0)

[13] Rees CA, Ali M, Kisenge R, et al Where there is no local author: a network bibliometric analysis of authorship parasitism among research conducted in sub-Saharan Africa BMJ Global Health 2021. https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/10/e006982. (CC BY-NC)

[14] Sam-Agudu NA, Abimbola S. Using scientific authorship criteria as a tool for equitable inclusion in global health research. BMJ Global Health 2021. https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/10/e007632 (CC BY-NC)

 

Are academics at your institution struggling to find the time and space to invest in their own continuing professional development (CPD)? With so many competing priorities, many academics find it difficult squeeze CPD in among their other daily responsibilities.

Are academics at your institution struggling to find the time and space to invest in their own continuing professional development (CPD)? With so many competing priorities, many academics find it difficult squeeze CPD in among their other daily responsibilities. CPD is often the first thing to be jettisoned in busy schedules. Gone is the time when five days of training could be allocated to improving the skills and knowledge of academics. So how might we rethink academics’ CPD to make it more accessible and relevant? 

OER Africa is conducting research on different CPD methods that might resonate with busy academics. We are advocating repackaging training to be appealing, engaging and relevant to today’s academic. Below is an interactive report developed to showcase some of the initial findings of this research. Initially presented as part of the OE Global’s 2021 CONNECT conference, it is now made available for your attention, right here.

Please click the link below to access the interactive presentation, but be warned, your active participation will be required! Please complete the interactive components of the presentation honestly and fully as we would like to use your data as part of the research process.

                              

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