An Ecosystem of Open Pedagogy

In my recent readings on open pedagogy and instructional design, an idea that resonated with me was that openness requires an ecosystem: the effort to create open resources and open pedagogy is just as critical as the effort to support, curate, and share those resources and practices. Bates (2019) argues that these resources “cannot successfully exist in a vacuum” (p. 594). He suggests that one reason OER has seen a slow adoption rate is the relative lack of supporting materials compared to commercial products. Developing open pedagogies is more than “licensing and content development” (p. 590); it requires an ecosystem of support. To thrive, openness needs people who not only plant the seeds but also nurture and cultivate the environment surrounding open practices and resources. In a blog post explaining the nature of the commons, Bollier (2011) aptly asserts that “there is no commons without commoning” (para. 5). Educators can work hard to create open resources, and they can choose to share them with permissive licenses. However, without a framework to help those resources grow, they may never have an opportunity to take root and see the light of day. To address this need, Stacey (2018) suggests that one area the Open Education Consortium could focus on is developing these support frameworks. He states that “simply having a community and pool of resources is not enough. There needs to be a set of protocols, values and norms devised by the community to manage its resources” (para. 8). In my tentative steps into the open pedagogy landscape, I have wondered where to begin. How do educators discover open pedagogies, let alone contribute to them? What are the frameworks that exist, and in which mediums? How do educators learn to become stewards of the commons? As advocates of openness embrace the tenants of “share alike”—planting the seeds of open content—we also need to be able to get our hands dirty, add some fertilizer, pull some weeds, and nurture the ecosystem of open education.


Bates, A.W. (2019). Teaching in a Digital Age – Second Edition. Vancouver, B.C.: Tony Bates Associates Ltd. Retrieved from

Bollier, D. (2011, July 15). The Commons, Short and Sweet [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Stacey, P. (2018, February 8). Global Education Commons Steward [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

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