Open Learning Design

From UBC Wiki

This document attempts to map the frameworks and principles of Open Learning Design, which is at the intersection of Learning Resource Design and Open Education.


Note that this is a companion to the Open Learning Design manifesto, which we is published here: The editable format lives on Google..

Theoretical Frameworks

Theoretical frameworks help to answer the "why" questions.

Open Pedagogy

"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." (Woodward, 2014)[1] Open pedagogy relies on trust relationships, as learners are invited to engage in "learning in the open" - which they may not be accustomed to. Often, learners "do not realize what working within an open system means, and do not understand that they have the authority — and the responsibility — to develop content for the platform, and the platform itself, to shape their [learning] community" (Rosen & Smale, 2015)[2]. Professional development for faculty who are interested in open practice, requires an approach that is grounded in the sharing of experiences, expertise, approaches and iterations among a network of co-learners. "Educational change happens not only in technical plans and blueprints, but also through the interaction and collective sense making of educators as they go about enacting change" (Moolenaar & Daly, 2013)[3]. Open digital tools are employed to support the movement away from the view of expertise as flowing from a single individual (instructor) to a distributed network of learners and instructors as collaborators and contributors in shaping the learning environment. These tools allow for interactions with the community beyond the classroom in order to support inquiry, sense-making and interrogation of the technologies in use by the community.

Open pedagogy (according to Wiley)[4] requires free access and the 5R permissions characteristic of open educational resources. These are:

  • re-use
  • revise
  • remix
  • re-distribute
  • retain

Open pedagogy views learners as co-investigators in learning environments that are centered around what Freire refers to as problem-posing rather than the transmission model or "banking system", which is seen as a detriment to the development of critical thinking and self-determination. In the course of their learning, students are often required to re-mixing or re-interpreting open access (openly licensed) learning resources used in the course or are engaged in some form of authentic research. Open pedagogy may encompass some aspects of connectivism, and student-as-producer approaches.


Connectivists view learners as a "self-managed and autonomous seekers of opportunities to create, interact and have new experiences, where learning is not the accumulation of more and more facts or memories, but the ongoing development of a richer and richer neural tapestry" (Downes, 2014)[5] It is based on the understanding that the "essential purpose of education and teaching is not to produce some set of core knowledge in a person, but rather to create the conditions in which a person can become an accomplished and motivated learner in their own right" In connectivism, learning is considered a network forming process. Learners engage in the process of meaning-making with others, sharing ideas and acting as resources to each other as they pursue their learning goals (Siemens). Connectivist approaches to learning design are based on the properties of networks that effectively respond to, and recognize, phenomena in the environment. Downes has identified these as autonomy, diversity, openness, and interactivity.


Student as Producer: A Pedagogy for the Avant-Garde; or, how do revolutionary teachers teach?

"A key issue for Student as Producer is that social learning is more than the individual learning in a social context, and includes the way in which the social context itself is transformed through progressive pedagogic practice. This transformation includes the institution within which the pedagogical activities are taking place, and the society out of which the particular institution is derived." (Neary, 2010)[6]. The student-as-producer pedagogy has its roots in Marxist ideology and the radical educational ideals of Lev Vygotsky. Learners are seen as part of the academic activities of the institution and are active co-creators of the learning environments they inhabit. Learning outcomes are set aside in favor of more open-ended, enquiry based approaches. The purpose of learning is so that a student "may develop intellectually, and emotionally and become more socially aware." In the student-as-producer model, the process of academic production is re-designed so that the student sees him/herself in the "institutional process of the production of knowledge and meaning."

  • Critical Pedagogy (Friere) - above draws from Friere.

Practice Frameworks

Practice frameworks help to answer the "how" questions.

  • Agile design methodology:


  • Open practice enhance teaching and learning
  • Form follows function
  • Simplify don't complicate
  • Students are experts in their own learning
  • Meaningful learning is authentic learning
  • Create for understanding
  • Design for sense-making
  • Remix, re-use and sharing is effective teaching practice
  • Learning happens in a community
  • Teaching and learning is a collaborative process
  • good teaching requires empathy
  • Open learning design aims to create inclusion, relevance, and belonging
  • starting from the "why" leads to better outcomes
  • Authentic learning requires release of control
  • Build trust through honest collaboration
  • Understanding requires practice, reflection and feedback
  • The University community is composed of students, staff and faculty - all produce work of value to the broader community - it should be shared as a collective resource (rather than as a siloed - divided showcase)
  • fundamental principle of the University is critique
  • teaching and learning is inherintely political
  • the university has an obligation to minimize the barriers between the institution and community (especially public institutions)
  • don't be wasteful
  • culture of participation
  • what you know is determined by who you know
  • knowledge does not equal understanding
  • understanding is developed through opportunities to iterate and practice across time and contexts, applying feedback to refine and deepen.


  • Openness
  • Agilenss
  • Community Building
  • Iterative approaches
  • Empowerment & Capacity Building
  • Experiential Based & Experimental Based

UBC Projects as Evidence

  • Open
  • Student as Producer
  • Iterative
  • Connectivist
  • Open
  • Community
  • Iterative
  • Empowering & Capacity Building
  • Student as Producer
  • Open
  • Community
  • Student as Producer
  • Open
  • Community
  • Blended Learning 101
  • Student as Producer


  1. Grush, M. (2013). Open Pedagogy: Connection, Community, and Transparency: A Q&A with Tom Woodward. Campus Technology. (2014). Retrieved from
  2. Rosen, J. R. (2015, January 7). Open Digital Pedagogy = Critical Pedagogy. Hybrid Pedagogy. Retrieved from
  3. Moolenaar, N. M., & Daly, A. J. (2013). Orchestrating networks to support educational change. Retrieved from
  4. Wiley, D. (2013). What is Open Pedagogy?. Retrieved from
  5. Downes, S. (2014). Connectivism as Learning Theory. Retrieved from
  6. Neary, M. (n.d.). Student as Producer: A Pedagogy for the Avant-Garde; or, how do revolutionary teachers teach? Retrieved from
  7. McTighe, J., & Seif, E. (n.d.). A Summary of Underlying Theory and Research Base for Understanding by Design. Retrieved from
  8. Allen D, Tanner K. Putting the Horse Back in Front of the Cart: Using Visions and Decisions about High-Quality Learning Experiences to Drive Course Design. CBE— Life Sciences Education. 2007;6(2):85-89. doi:10.1187/cbe.07-03-0017.
  9. Bowles, C. (2008). Getting Real About Agile Design. A List Apart. Retrieved from
  10. Learning Principles - Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation. Carnegie Mellon University. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Additional Resources

Working Group