Beyond OER: Embracing a Comprehensive Open Culture

In the latest issue of the Texas Library Journal, an article by the University of Houston OER Librarian, Kathy McNally Carter, “Supporting Open Pedagogy as a Path to Student Engagement,” particularly resonated with me. Carter discusses how open pedagogy empowers students as co-creators of knowledge, transforming traditional educational models.  

As we continue to champion open educational resources (OER), I envision an expanded role for us as librarians in nurturing a broader open culture. Librarians play a crucial role in the open movement, leveraging their expertise not only in guiding faculty and students with OER but also in enhancing resource visibility and streamlining their preservation in institutional repositories. This skill set is integral to advancing and sustaining the open movement. 

But let’s think bigger. Our role can transcend OER to encompass open access publishing, advocating for transparent and accessible academic practices, and fostering a community of sharing and collaboration. Imagine transforming even simple lesson notes into valuable open educational materials, contributing to a larger ecosystem of knowledge sharing. 

Mindshift: OER ➡️ Open Culture

Open Educational Resources (OER) have revolutionized educational access, and open pedagogy is further enhancing this transformation. Open Educational resources are part of a larger transformation of education through Open Pedagogy. OER are materials that support the learning theory that is Open Pedagogy. As librarians, understanding and supporting open pedagogy is crucial in our role as educators and facilitators of knowledge.  

Understanding Open Pedagogy 

Open pedagogy, as Carter describes, is “an experiential and process-centric teaching approach that views students as co-creators of knowledge” (Carter, 2023, p. 13). This method challenges traditional education models and empowers students to actively participate in their learning process. For faculty, this is often a complete mind shift in their understanding of how they teach how students learn and think about their content. It is also a shift in pedagogical, their own learning, social priorities. While also competing against centuries of tradition in academic institutions.  

The Role of Librarians in Open Pedagogy 

Librarians are key collaborators in open pedagogy. We can consult with faculty on assignment design and ensure student agency over their work (Carter, 2023, p. 14). Our expertise in information literacy and open licensing makes us invaluable in this new educational landscape. When I think about helping students become open learners, I really see a place for librarians to build capacity in students to research and learn using open practices!  

Benefits of Open Pedagogy 

Open pedagogy turns assignments into renewable resources with real-world relevance. As Carter notes, it “allows student work to have value beyond the classroom” (Carter, 2023, p. 13). This approach enhances learning experiences, contributes to the broader community in meaningful ways, and brings students into the world of scholarly communication early in their career. 

Supporting Faculty and Students 

We can guide faculty and students in navigating open licensing and the technical aspects of publishing open educational materials. They don’t have to be the experts. Our role involves enhancing the discoverability of these resources and supporting their archival in institutional repositories (Carter, 2023, p. 14). To help faculty adopt open pedagogy, consider beginning with converting their existing materials, such as lesson notes, into OER. This process is straightforward: they can choose a Creative Commons license and share these materials in various OER repositories. This approach doesn’t require creating extensive works like books or courses. Some notable repositories include MERLOTOpenText Book Library, and OASIS, among others. Our OER GRAs and I have compiled a comprehensive list of such resources, which we’re continually updating. You’re welcome to browse the list here!

Encouraging Engagement and Quality

Open pedagogy not only fosters deeper student engagement but also nurtures a sense of ownership and pride in their work. As Carter highlights, the awareness of creating something of lasting value encourages students to dedicate more effort, leading to higher quality outcomes (Carter, 2023, p. 14). This approach also cultivates critical thinking and creativity, as students are not just passive recipients of information but active contributors to the learning process, thereby enhancing their educational experience and personal development.  

Building Your Open Foundation 

You don’t have to know everything about OER and open education, no one does! This is still a new idea. As librarians, we can be the Lead Learners for our community and embrace open culture by learning openly alongside them. For further exploration, I’ve provided a link to the full journal issue. Additionally, for a broader understanding of open culture in librarianship, I recommend a selection of articles (below) from the book Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science, by Rajiv Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener (2017).

Conclusion

Open Pedagogy is more than mere resource sharing; it’s an endeavor to create a vibrant academic culture enriched by open access and collaborative learning. It’s about shaping a future where knowledge is not just consumed, but collaboratively created and shared. As we advance in this transformative journey, let’s ponder a critical question: 

How can we support our community in embracing and implementing open culture, pedagogy, and practices to enhance knowledge access, encourage collaborative learning?

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