Wiley & Hilton 2018

Wiley, D., & Hilton, J. (2018). Defining OER-Enabled Pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(4). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v19i4.3601


The term "open pedagogy" has been used in a variety of different ways over the past several decades. In recent years, its use has also become associated with Open Educational Resources (OER). The wide range of competing definitions of open pedagogy, together with its semantic overlap with another underspecified term, open educational practices, makes it difficult to conduct research on the topic of open pedagogy. In making this claim we do not mean to cast doubt on the potential effectiveness of the many pedagogical approaches labeled open. In this article, rather than attempting to argue for a canonical definition of open pedagogy, we propose a new term, "OER-enabled pedagogy," defined as the set of teaching and learning practices that are only possible or practical in the context of the 5R permissions that are characteristic of OER. We propose criteria used to evaluate whether a form of teaching constitutes OER-enabled pedagogy and analyze several examples of OER-enabled pedagogy with these criteria.


OER-enabled pedagogy, open pedagogy, open learning, open educational practices



Key Ideas

The "open" in open educational resources indicates that these materials are licensed with copyright licenses that provide permission for everyone to participate in the 5R activities - retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute. Wiley (n.d.) describes the 5Rs in more detail:

  • Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage).
  • Reuse - the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video).
  • Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language).
  • Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup).
  • Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend). (para. 4)

Those interested in OER care about the way the word "open" is used in educational contexts. (para. 6)

We define OER-enabled pedagogy as the set of teaching and learning practices that are only possible or practical in the context of the 5R permissions which are characteristic of OER. (para. 9)

In contrast to disposable assignments, Wiley introduces the idea of renewable assignments - assignments which both support an individual student's learning and result in new or improved open educational resources that provide a lasting benefit to the broader community of learners. We might consider a continuum of criteria that distinguish disposable assignments from renewable assignments, as indicated in Table 1.

Criteria Distinguishing Different Kinds of Assignments

Student creates an artifact The artifact has value beyond supporting its creator's learning The artifact is made public The artifact is openly licensed
Disposable assignments X
Authentic assignments X X
Constructionist assignments X X X
Renewable assignments X X X X

Table 1.

We propose the following four-part test to determine the extent to which a specific teaching and learning practice qualifies as OER-enabled pedagogy, as exemplified by the idea of renewable assignments:

  1. Are students asked to create new artifacts (essays, poems, videos, songs, etc.) or revise/remix existing OER?
  2. Does the new artifact have value beyond supporting the learning of its author?
  3. Are students invited to publicly share their new artifacts or revised/remixed OER?
  4. Are students invited to openly license their new artifacts or revised/remixed OER? (para. 13)

Examples of OER-enabled Pedagogy

  • OER-enabled pedagogies resulting in the creation of supplementary learning resources designed to facilitate the learning of other students.
  • A second example from this genre comes from Jhangiani (2017), who also describes using OER-enabled pedagogy to facilitate the learning of current students while potentially improving the learning of future students. Over the course of a semester, he asked students taking a Social Psychology class to create test questions based on the material they were learning.
  • OER-enabled pedagogy and worked examples.
  • OER-enabled pedagogy and student summaries.
  • OER-enabled pedagogy and new contexts.
  • OER-enabled pedagogy that results in primary course resources such as textbooks.
  • OER-enabled pedagogy and Wikipedia.