Liberating Structures


I had the terrific privilege to travel to the University of Wisconsin-Madison  last week to take part in a 2.5 day workshop on Liberating Structures. In a nutshell, “conventional structures” are approaches to organizing space and processes in ways we are familiar (and bored) with:  Roberts Rules, round-robin-report-out meetings, lectures, even brainstorming sessions … Keep reading

They cut it up?!

Last July, I did some graphic recording for a group of Educational Leadership MA students.  It was a pretty big piece – I recall about 18 feet long. The students were just starting their blended program (on campus residencies blended with online course terms, then reunite on campus at the end, for convocation).   Anyway, it was a great … Keep reading

Open Pedagogy – what IS it?

Trying to get my head around Open Pedagogy. From David Wiley,  What is Open Pedagogy?

the assignment is impossible without the permissions granted by open licenses. This is the ultimate test of whether or not a particular approach or technique can rightly be called “open pedagogy” – is it possible without the free access and 4R permissions characteristic of open educational resources? If the answer is yes, then you may have an effective educational practice but you don’t have an instance of open pedagogy. Open pedagogy is that set of teaching and learning practices only possible in the context of the free access and 4R permissions characteristic of open educational resources.

And, According to Tom Woodward in this interview 

Still, a broader consideration may be useful. Looking at open pedagogy as a general philosophy of openness (and connection) in all elements of the pedagogical process, while messy, provides some interesting possibilities. Open is a purposeful path towards connection and community. Open pedagogy could be considered as a blend of strategies, technologies, and networked communities that make the process and products of education more transparent, understandable, and available to all the people involved.

CC by John Hayes

CC by John Hayes

With my instructional designer hat on, I ask questions like:

  • Is any course that makes use of OERs an example of “open pedagogy”? (gut check says no: a course using an open textbook that requires students to create traditional (“disposable”, per Wiley) assignments, doesn’t seem like open pedagogy)
  • Is it necessary (or sufficient) for students’ work to be available to people other than the instructor?  On the open web?
  • If students’ assignments are available to each other, but behind the wall of an LMS, is this open pedagogy? This seems “more open”  than a traditional assignment, but still feels more ajar, than open
  • What about MOOCs? Free pass to “open pedagogy”, by definition?

I am imagining a matrix or other visual representation of factors that seem to be at play to understand what is/not “open pedagogy”

  • Use of OER (e.g., Open Texts, free/accessible resources on the web)
  • Visibility of student work to an audience beyond the instructor
  • Practical contribution of student work to the world outside the classroom
  • Students as co-creators of the course/materials
  • What else?

 We are discussing all this in our team, gathering up examples of Open Pedagogy (got one? love to hear about it),  and eagerly awaiting the 5 R Open Course Design Framework from Lumen Learning. Stay tuned – examples of open pedagogy, webinars and workshops to follow.


I’ve embraced the “de-cluttering” craze the past bunch of months, purging my life of things I don’t use often or don’t completely love.   The difference is remarkable. Like a work of art, website, print design, etc. –  white space makes a big difference in our experience. In the spirit of minimalism,  I … Keep reading