Putting open pedagogy in a design-principle frame

Reading Bates (2014) and Merill (2002) leads me to ask the following question: Does open pedagogy as defined by Bates satisfy the prescriptive design principles aggregated by Merrill?

Merrill presents the common principles of instruction: examining a number of theories to find commonalities and shared ground. He posits that there are t five principles are common, more or less, to most theories of instruction:

  1. Learning is promoted when learners are engaged in solving real-world problems.
  2. Learning is promoted when existing knowledge is activated as a foundation for new knowledge.
  3. Learning is promoted when new knowledge is demonstrated to the learner.
  4. Learning is promoted when new knowledge is applied by the learner.
  5. Learning is promoted when new knowledge is integrated into the learner’s world.

Bates cites  Hegarty (2015) to describe eight attributes of open pedagogy:

  • participatory technology
  • people, openness and trust
  • innovation and creativity
  • sharing ideas and resources
  • connected community
  • learner-generated
  • reflective practice
  • peer review.

One could posit that there are intersections between the concepts described in these two lists.

Open pedagogy consists of learner-generated content. When that is connected or derived from the learners’ community, it could certainly consist of content which seeks to solve real-world problems. 

Open pedagogy’s practice of sharing ideas and resources is a practice that builds on existing knowledge of learners. 

Open pedagogy’s fostering of innovation and creativity leads to new knowledge demonstrated by the learner. The application of this knowledge is encouraged through the openness and trust of the open pedagogical environment. The reflective practice of open pedagogy could provide an opportunity for application to the real world.

Open pedagogy’s philosophy is engaging students fosters an eco-system which encourages the common principales of theories of instruction. In particular, open pedagogy is well-suited to problem-based instruction. Collaboration is encouraged. Online resources are easily accessible. An environment of creative risk-taking is fostered.

A thorough evidence-based academic exploration of these intuited parallels could lead to a better understanding of open pedagogy’s place, and likely its strengths as a learning ecosystem, within the framework of Merrill’s five common principles of theories of instruction.



Bates, T. (2014, December 10). A Short History of Educational Technology. Retrieved from https://www.tonybates.ca/2014/12/10/a-short-history-of-educational-technology/.

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43-59.

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