Open Door Classroom

Jesse Stommel
Jesse StommelPedagogue / Open Educator / Public Digital Humanist
Photo by flickr user paolobarzman
Open Door Classroom
Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer)
Photo by flickr user Grant Hutchinson
I want to start with an aside. An anecdote that still troubles me.
The story of my most controversial tweet.
Open Door Classroom
Photo by flickr user markus spiske
My intention with that tweet was not to admonish teachers that have
laptop policies but to question the thinking that underlies those policies
and to provoke discussion. I’m not opposed to teachers asking students to
close their laptops. I’m opposed to defense mechanisms masquerading as
pedagogical decisions.
Photo by flickr userViewminder
Devices (including laptops, but also chalkboards, books, eyes, ears, fingers)
are used at different times, by different people, and for different purposes.
We need a lot more nuance in our thinking about the role of classroom
tools, and we need to stop admonishing students for looking out the
window in class. Distraction is not something to manage, but rather
something to harness with an open pedagogy.
Praxis
Pedagogy is the place where philosophy and practice meet.
Photo by flickr user henry grey
Critical Pedagogy is an approach to teaching and learning
predicated on fostering agency and empowering learners (implicitly
and explicitly critiquing oppressive power structures).The “critical”
in critical pedagogy functions in several registers:
1. Critical, as in mission-critical, essential;
2. Critical, as in literary criticism and critique, providing definitions and
interpretation;
3. Critical, as in a reflective and nuanced approach to a thing;
4. Critical, as in criticizing institutional or corporate impediments to learning;
5. Critical Pedagogy, as a disciplinary approach, which inflects (and is inflected
by) each of these other meanings.
Photo by flickr user Fio
In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire argues against the banking
model, in which education “becomes an act of depositing, in which the
students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor.”
Photo by flickr user Fio
In place of the banking model, Freire advocates for “problem-posing
education,” in which a classroom or learning environment becomes a
space for asking questions -- a space of cognition not information.
Vertical (or hierarchical) relationships give way to more playful ones.
Photo by flickr user Fio
Critical Digital Pedagogy:
1. centers its practice on community and collaboration;
2. must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires
invention to reimagine the ways that communication and collaboration
happen across cultural and political boundaries;
3. will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a
cacophony of voices;
4. must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education.
Photo by flickr user Fio
Photo by flickr user David Barnas
We either critically interrogate our tools or are subject to them.
There is no middle ground between these two.
Photo by flickr user Pedro Figueiredo
My hypothesis is that learning is the opposite of content. Content is a
closed circuit, a mechanism. Learning is an open circuit, a field.And the best
courses overflow their containers.
What is the pedagogical value in openness?
Photo by flickr user Mitchell Joyce
It’s important to know what open educational resources are and how we
might use them. But it’s just as important to pause and take stock — to
think carefully about when and why students work openly on the web.
Photo by flickr user Marcus Trimble
“Simply adopting open educational resources will not make one’s
pedagogy magically change to take advantage of the capabilities of the
internet.Adding legal permission to technological capacity only creates
possibilities – we must choose to actively take advantage of them.”
~ David Wiley,“Open Pedagogy:The Importance of Getting in the Air”
Photo by flickr user Fio
We need to devise learning activities that take organic (and less arbitrary)
shapes in space and time.We need to recognize that the best learning
happens not inside courses, but between them.
Photo by flickr user Emre (NZ)
“The walls of the course circumscribe subject matter, project timelines,
written work, and assessment.The quarter, the semester, the course dictate
almost everything we understand about education … We equate learning
with compartments of learning, rather than with a lingering process that
shifts and moves invisibly between the accomplishment of one learning
objective and another.”
~ Sean Michael Morris,“The Course as Container”
Photo by flickr user Mr.TinDC
“Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst … I
had better never see a book than to be warped by its attraction clean
out of my own orbit and made a satellite instead of a system.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson,“On the American Scholar”
“We act — at our peril — as if ‘open’ is politically neutral, let alone
politically good or progressive. Indeed, we sometimes use the word to
stand in place of a politics of participatory democracy.”
~ Audrey Watters,“From ‘Open’ to Justice”
To what use do we put Open Educational Resources?
Photo by flickr user Fio
A text or learning object is "open access" when it is readily available and
also legible.An OER is not just a “free” resource but also an opportunity.
To engage students not just as receptacles for content but as engaged
participants in their own learning.
Open Door Classroom
Photo by flickr user Mateusz Łapsa-Malawski
“Hacking is a core part of what we do as scholars and pedagogues.We
are unapologetic tinkerers who neither invent the wheel, nor are
satisfied with the wheels already at our disposal.The best scholarship
and the best pedagogy take the best of what already exists and make it
better, at least better for the task at hand.”
~ Kris Shaffer,“Open-source Scholarship”
Photo by flickr user Xabi Ezpeleta
What are the Ethical Responsibilities of Open Pedagogy?
This is the part in my argument where I could talk about FERPA or plagiarism
or cheating or monetization or privacy or outcomes.And these are all crucial
subjects, but they are too often used as a way to shut down conversation
about open education. Rather, I want to offer that open pedagogy is itself an
ethical responsibility for every educator that cares about student learning.
Photo by flickr user Donovan Shortey
As teachers, we have a responsibility to create environments for
learning in which students are empowered as full agents.
Photo by flickr user Håkan Dahlström
We can open our classroom by creating assignments that have more than
just a single teacher as an audience. By doing this, we give students reasons
less banal than points to do the work of learning. I would argue that learning
only happens in spaces that are free of “busy work.”
Photo by flickr user Natasha Wheatland
Can we find ways to stop having conversations, about teaching and learning,
without students present? Or, at least, can we work to create permeable
spaces where discussions of teaching and discussions of learning intersect
more intentionally?
Photo by flickr user Fio
The default switch should be set to open not closed -- for our classroom
doors, learning management systems, academic journals, educational
conferences, pedagogical conversations, grade-norming sessions, etc.
Photo by flickr user Fio
Sometimes we do need to close our classroom door (whether virtual or
literal).We should take these moments as opportunities to talk to students
about the “rhetoric of the room.” What are the affordances of a closed door?
What different stuff can happen inside a closed space? And who gets left
outside? Can we imagine a space with a closed door but open windows?
Photo by flickr user Khánh Hmoong
“Stop thinking of knowledge as information to be downloaded into the
student brain (the repository-based storage unit), but instead think of it
as knowledge to be uploaded to the world.”
~ Robin DeRosa,“Beyond the Buck:An ExpandedVision for Open Access”
Photo by flickr user photophilde
Open pedagogy demands content, Open Educational Resources, that are
not just available and accessible but also open to student contribution.
Photo by flickr user twinkabauter
And so we start by finding and making content openly available on the web,
but we also ask students to create, curate, remix, and hack content on the
web. Students co-construct their own textbooks, their own syllabi, their
own learning outcomes.
Photo by flickr user JD Hancock
They also work within a perforated community -- a networked group of
learners that extends beyond the bounds of those officially enrolled in a
term-based class.And hopefully a community that outlives the course that
gave birth to it.
Photo by flickr user Paul
How to Adapt Content for an Open Door Classroom?
ONE Find and create content that is self-undermining. Content with
space on the page for student contribution. Content that is less neat and
tidy than the average textbook.
Photo by flickr user wplynn
TWO Realize that content is not actually a marker of expertise. From the
first moments of a course, relinquish (some but perhaps not all) authority
and model uncertainty. Say directly that the course will focus less on the
expertise of a teacher and more on the growing expertise of students.
How to Adapt Content for an Open Door Classroom?
Photo by flickr user KayVee.INC
THREE Student-generated content is the stuff of learning.And it can’t be
populated into a learning management system in advance of the students’
arrival to a course. If there is a better sort of mechanism that we need for
the work of digital pedagogy, it is a machine, an algorithm, a platform tuned
not for delivering and assessing content, but for helping all of us listen
better to students.
How to Adapt Content for an Open Door Classroom?
Photo by flickr user Alex
FOUR Content should never be delivered at the expense of questions or
openings to discussion. Coverage is a myth. Often, the more we cover, the
less we know. So, put more energy into starting the discussion and less
anxiety into pre-determining where it will go.
How to Adapt Content for an Open Door Classroom?
Photo by flickr user Sage Ross
How to Adapt Content for an Open Door Classroom?
FIVE There is no plagiarism in pedagogy.The first thing to open are our
own approaches -- to other teachers who can put them to use -- they
won’t work in every class, or for every student, but good pedagogy is not
something we ought to hoard. Give credit but worry less about taking it.
Photo by flickr user darkday
Pedagogy is recursive. It ends (literally or figuratively) with a question and
waits (sometimes impossibly, breathlessly long) for an answer.
Photo by flickr user p.Gordon
How can we best leverage digital tools in our classes? How can we imagine
the Learning Management System as a platform and not a container? What
are the best ways to help students develop digital literacies and to prepare
them for working with content on the open web?
Photo by flickr user Ciao Anita!
What are the barriers to doing work openly on the web? For yourself
personally? At your institution? With your students? In your discipline?
What challenges does this present? What ethical questions does an open
door classroom raise?
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Open Door Classroom

  • 1. Photo by flickr user paolobarzman Open Door Classroom Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer)
  • 2. Photo by flickr user Grant Hutchinson I want to start with an aside. An anecdote that still troubles me. The story of my most controversial tweet.
  • 4. Photo by flickr user markus spiske My intention with that tweet was not to admonish teachers that have laptop policies but to question the thinking that underlies those policies and to provoke discussion. I’m not opposed to teachers asking students to close their laptops. I’m opposed to defense mechanisms masquerading as pedagogical decisions.
  • 5. Photo by flickr userViewminder Devices (including laptops, but also chalkboards, books, eyes, ears, fingers) are used at different times, by different people, and for different purposes. We need a lot more nuance in our thinking about the role of classroom tools, and we need to stop admonishing students for looking out the window in class. Distraction is not something to manage, but rather something to harness with an open pedagogy.
  • 6. Praxis Pedagogy is the place where philosophy and practice meet. Photo by flickr user henry grey
  • 7. Critical Pedagogy is an approach to teaching and learning predicated on fostering agency and empowering learners (implicitly and explicitly critiquing oppressive power structures).The “critical” in critical pedagogy functions in several registers: 1. Critical, as in mission-critical, essential; 2. Critical, as in literary criticism and critique, providing definitions and interpretation; 3. Critical, as in a reflective and nuanced approach to a thing; 4. Critical, as in criticizing institutional or corporate impediments to learning; 5. Critical Pedagogy, as a disciplinary approach, which inflects (and is inflected by) each of these other meanings. Photo by flickr user Fio
  • 8. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire argues against the banking model, in which education “becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor.” Photo by flickr user Fio
  • 9. In place of the banking model, Freire advocates for “problem-posing education,” in which a classroom or learning environment becomes a space for asking questions -- a space of cognition not information. Vertical (or hierarchical) relationships give way to more playful ones. Photo by flickr user Fio
  • 10. Critical Digital Pedagogy: 1. centers its practice on community and collaboration; 2. must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to reimagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries; 3. will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a cacophony of voices; 4. must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education. Photo by flickr user Fio
  • 11. Photo by flickr user David Barnas We either critically interrogate our tools or are subject to them. There is no middle ground between these two.
  • 12. Photo by flickr user Pedro Figueiredo My hypothesis is that learning is the opposite of content. Content is a closed circuit, a mechanism. Learning is an open circuit, a field.And the best courses overflow their containers. What is the pedagogical value in openness?
  • 13. Photo by flickr user Mitchell Joyce It’s important to know what open educational resources are and how we might use them. But it’s just as important to pause and take stock — to think carefully about when and why students work openly on the web.
  • 14. Photo by flickr user Marcus Trimble “Simply adopting open educational resources will not make one’s pedagogy magically change to take advantage of the capabilities of the internet.Adding legal permission to technological capacity only creates possibilities – we must choose to actively take advantage of them.” ~ David Wiley,“Open Pedagogy:The Importance of Getting in the Air”
  • 15. Photo by flickr user Fio We need to devise learning activities that take organic (and less arbitrary) shapes in space and time.We need to recognize that the best learning happens not inside courses, but between them.
  • 16. Photo by flickr user Emre (NZ) “The walls of the course circumscribe subject matter, project timelines, written work, and assessment.The quarter, the semester, the course dictate almost everything we understand about education … We equate learning with compartments of learning, rather than with a lingering process that shifts and moves invisibly between the accomplishment of one learning objective and another.” ~ Sean Michael Morris,“The Course as Container”
  • 17. Photo by flickr user Mr.TinDC “Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst … I had better never see a book than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit and made a satellite instead of a system.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson,“On the American Scholar” “We act — at our peril — as if ‘open’ is politically neutral, let alone politically good or progressive. Indeed, we sometimes use the word to stand in place of a politics of participatory democracy.” ~ Audrey Watters,“From ‘Open’ to Justice” To what use do we put Open Educational Resources?
  • 18. Photo by flickr user Fio A text or learning object is "open access" when it is readily available and also legible.An OER is not just a “free” resource but also an opportunity. To engage students not just as receptacles for content but as engaged participants in their own learning.
  • 20. Photo by flickr user Mateusz Łapsa-Malawski “Hacking is a core part of what we do as scholars and pedagogues.We are unapologetic tinkerers who neither invent the wheel, nor are satisfied with the wheels already at our disposal.The best scholarship and the best pedagogy take the best of what already exists and make it better, at least better for the task at hand.” ~ Kris Shaffer,“Open-source Scholarship”
  • 21. Photo by flickr user Xabi Ezpeleta What are the Ethical Responsibilities of Open Pedagogy? This is the part in my argument where I could talk about FERPA or plagiarism or cheating or monetization or privacy or outcomes.And these are all crucial subjects, but they are too often used as a way to shut down conversation about open education. Rather, I want to offer that open pedagogy is itself an ethical responsibility for every educator that cares about student learning.
  • 22. Photo by flickr user Donovan Shortey As teachers, we have a responsibility to create environments for learning in which students are empowered as full agents.
  • 23. Photo by flickr user Håkan Dahlström We can open our classroom by creating assignments that have more than just a single teacher as an audience. By doing this, we give students reasons less banal than points to do the work of learning. I would argue that learning only happens in spaces that are free of “busy work.”
  • 24. Photo by flickr user Natasha Wheatland Can we find ways to stop having conversations, about teaching and learning, without students present? Or, at least, can we work to create permeable spaces where discussions of teaching and discussions of learning intersect more intentionally?
  • 25. Photo by flickr user Fio The default switch should be set to open not closed -- for our classroom doors, learning management systems, academic journals, educational conferences, pedagogical conversations, grade-norming sessions, etc.
  • 26. Photo by flickr user Fio Sometimes we do need to close our classroom door (whether virtual or literal).We should take these moments as opportunities to talk to students about the “rhetoric of the room.” What are the affordances of a closed door? What different stuff can happen inside a closed space? And who gets left outside? Can we imagine a space with a closed door but open windows?
  • 27. Photo by flickr user Khánh Hmoong “Stop thinking of knowledge as information to be downloaded into the student brain (the repository-based storage unit), but instead think of it as knowledge to be uploaded to the world.” ~ Robin DeRosa,“Beyond the Buck:An ExpandedVision for Open Access”
  • 28. Photo by flickr user photophilde Open pedagogy demands content, Open Educational Resources, that are not just available and accessible but also open to student contribution.
  • 29. Photo by flickr user twinkabauter And so we start by finding and making content openly available on the web, but we also ask students to create, curate, remix, and hack content on the web. Students co-construct their own textbooks, their own syllabi, their own learning outcomes.
  • 30. Photo by flickr user JD Hancock They also work within a perforated community -- a networked group of learners that extends beyond the bounds of those officially enrolled in a term-based class.And hopefully a community that outlives the course that gave birth to it.
  • 31. Photo by flickr user Paul How to Adapt Content for an Open Door Classroom? ONE Find and create content that is self-undermining. Content with space on the page for student contribution. Content that is less neat and tidy than the average textbook.
  • 32. Photo by flickr user wplynn TWO Realize that content is not actually a marker of expertise. From the first moments of a course, relinquish (some but perhaps not all) authority and model uncertainty. Say directly that the course will focus less on the expertise of a teacher and more on the growing expertise of students. How to Adapt Content for an Open Door Classroom?
  • 33. Photo by flickr user KayVee.INC THREE Student-generated content is the stuff of learning.And it can’t be populated into a learning management system in advance of the students’ arrival to a course. If there is a better sort of mechanism that we need for the work of digital pedagogy, it is a machine, an algorithm, a platform tuned not for delivering and assessing content, but for helping all of us listen better to students. How to Adapt Content for an Open Door Classroom?
  • 34. Photo by flickr user Alex FOUR Content should never be delivered at the expense of questions or openings to discussion. Coverage is a myth. Often, the more we cover, the less we know. So, put more energy into starting the discussion and less anxiety into pre-determining where it will go. How to Adapt Content for an Open Door Classroom?
  • 35. Photo by flickr user Sage Ross How to Adapt Content for an Open Door Classroom? FIVE There is no plagiarism in pedagogy.The first thing to open are our own approaches -- to other teachers who can put them to use -- they won’t work in every class, or for every student, but good pedagogy is not something we ought to hoard. Give credit but worry less about taking it.
  • 36. Photo by flickr user darkday Pedagogy is recursive. It ends (literally or figuratively) with a question and waits (sometimes impossibly, breathlessly long) for an answer.
  • 37. Photo by flickr user p.Gordon How can we best leverage digital tools in our classes? How can we imagine the Learning Management System as a platform and not a container? What are the best ways to help students develop digital literacies and to prepare them for working with content on the open web?
  • 38. Photo by flickr user Ciao Anita! What are the barriers to doing work openly on the web? For yourself personally? At your institution? With your students? In your discipline? What challenges does this present? What ethical questions does an open door classroom raise?