15 10 Strategies for Engaging Learners with Open Pedagogy

10 Strategies for Engaging Learners with Open Pedagogy

What is Open Pedagogy?

Open pedagogy is a practice that uses the 4R activity framework to design lessons and assessments that encourage students to improve or create course content. With open pedagogy projects, students are empowered to engage in information creation through non-disposable or renewable assignments.


This practice can be used in both face-to-face courses and, of course, in fully online classes (Gits, 2018).

Strategy #1: Finding Open Educational Resources (OER)

The basics: OER offers distinctly educational content, such as full courses, workshops, textbooks, tests, and assignments. Faculty can look for them online in their area of study. Also, faculty can for ask help from librarians as well as OER resources at MSU, Mankato.


Variations on the approach:  Use our extensive library collection to locate a digital copy of your current textbooks.  Talk to your librarian to see if the book has enough licenses for your entire class.  Students can then access the book for free from the library’s holdings.

Strategy #2: Building course infrastructure

The basics: Collaborate with your students to build course infrastructure – build a syllabus, course schedule, course policies, assessments, or activities.  Not only does this embody the principles of Open Pedagogy but it gives students a sense of ownership over their learning experience.


Variations on the approach: Encourage students to build example assignments and explanations of how to complete them for future courses.  Can they use the principles from the class to provide information to future students?

Strategy #3: Connect with Service Learning

The basics:  Service Learning is another teaching technique that can work well as an Open Pedagogy method.  Encourage your students to give talks on your content to Retirement Communities, Community Education, or elementary schools.  Ask them to find volunteer or community service opportunities that allow them to connect with the content.  Encourage them to keep a blog or journal about the experience that they could share with others. 


Variations on the approach: Find opportunities on campus for students to apply what they are learning. Nutrition classes could offer information in the student union or work with campus staff.  Marketing students could do outreach to RSOs and offer assistance in membership drives.  How can your content help our campus community?

Strategy #4: Collaborative learning outcomes

The basics: Faculty can bring learning outcomes of the courses into the class. Students discuss them and contribute their input. Some faculty suggest that using learning outcomes in their classes as guidance for assignments is working towards what’s important to learn and work. If students are interested, invested, and believe it will be important to their lives and not just to a grade, they will be motivated.  If students are showing their work to their peers, the work is theirs, and not just an assignment.


Variations on the Strategy: If faculty need to bring in learning outcomes from their department or accreditors, ask students to participate in additional learning outcomes. In addition to a clear description of the assignment, you should also provide a detailed description of how the assignment will be graded and/or examples of high-quality student work.

Strategy #5: Renewable assignments

The basics: A renewable assignment is an assignment produced by students via their coursework that is useful and usable by others beyond their instructor. The student’s work should be not only made available to others but also openly licensed for revision and reuse.

Examples of renewable assignments

Strategy #6: Give back to your community

The basics: The beauty of open and renewable assignments is that they can be used to supplement underfunded education.  For assignments, encourage your students to create learning material for younger learners (ex. PK-12) or for community education and publishing them to OER Commons or a public website where they can be easily accessed.  “Donate” these materials by contacting your local school district or community education director and giving them the links to the materials.


Variations on the approach: Make a global connection with schools in another country.  Help your students build learning materials for students across the globe.

Strategy #7: Build a course textbook

The basics: Many instructors have found success in having students create the content for a course textbook that then becomes published as an OER.  As a collaborative project, students write the content using guidelines (like obeying copyright) and are in charge of copyediting and formatting the work.  Subsequent classes revise and edit the work, keeping it up to date.


Variations on the approach: If you are already using an OER textbook, challenge your students to revise the material, add media, or build supplementary materials for it. These can all be published as OER or communicated to the textbook library.

Strategy #8: Create a test bank

The basics: Students can create their own quiz and exam questions for each unit of instruction.  They can revise and edit the banks for future classes.  You can reuse the questions and publish them on a secure site, like Opendora, for other instructors to use.


Variations on the approach: If you are already using a test bank, challenge students to revise and improve the questions.  Integrate their edits into future courses.

Strategy #9: Wikis

The basics: Ever been frustrated by the inaccuracies in Wikipedia? Ask your students to review the information and revise, edit, or add to the existing pages.


Variations on the approach: Create your own course wiki using a tool like OneNote.  While not public, it could be shared and revised from class to class.

Strategy #10: Create learning objects

The basics: Students can create learning objects – charts, graphs, models, handouts, study guides, posters, videos, PowerPoints, or other objects that can help them learn the concepts. These learning objects can be reused from semester to semester.


Variations on the approach: If you are teaching upper-level classes, have them create materials to help teach the lower-level classes the basic concepts.


Making it Happen

If you’re interested in employing one of these strategies but aren’t quite sure how to get started or need some assistance, please contact Carrie Miller, carrie.miller@mnsu.edu  

Contribute Your Strategies 

Do you have an effective strategy for engaging learners that isn’t represented here? Let us know about it! Email your ideas to Carrie Miller, carrie.miller@mnsu.edu



Gits, C. (2018). Faculty guide to open educational resources (OER): Open pedagogy. Tacoma Community College.


Wiley, D. (2003). What is open pedagogy? Retrieved from https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/2975




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