Instructional materials and OPENness: a reflection on #ONL202 Topic 2

The last two weeks of ONL202 has been eye OPENing in a number of ways. We have had the opportunity to gain important insights into open learning and the concept of openness. One of the interesting materials in this part of ONL202 was a podcast, which included an interview conducted by Kiruthika Ragupathi. The interview features educators from all around the world who discuss what openness means to them. In the podcast, the words of a Finnish educator, Johanni Larianko, made me think about my own attempts to encourage students to share what they produce with each other and the rest of the world. Larianko stated that he is willing to share as widely as possible, and although this may also mean that he shares his mistakes, he said: “I am willing to be more vulnerable”. I think this is a position that we and our students all can learn from. In this post, I will reflect on a course I delivered in the past that involved an element of “openness”, and will consider how practices of openness can inform my future courses.

I personally have always believed in the value of collaboration and openness when it comes to the courses I have had at higher education level. Between 2013 and 2017, the Instructional Technology and Materials Development course I offered at Hacettepe University (Department of English Language Teaching) had a blog where student-teachers can upload their materials and get feedback from their peers. These materials mainly included lesson or activity plans designed by pre-service teachers (see a sample material here). I am happy that I used a blog for that course, as blogs and other participatory technologies are crucial for an open pedagogy (Hegarty 2015) that can benefit many people. What was important for me back then was that the student-teachers collaborated in creating these materials, and they provided peer-feedback to each other. I was able to write about the benefits of this peer-feedback (Sert & Aşık 2020) and collaboration process in a research article recently, which made me realize once again that students, and student teachers, need to be “open” to collaboration, and they need to go beyond collaborating within a class and share their experiences with the rest of the world. However, I have also realized that I should have educated myself better, as a course instructor, on open education practices and ask my students to get creative commons licenses for the materials they produced.

Bates (2019) argues that in the future “students will work mainly online and collaboratively, developing multi-media learning artefacts or demonstrations of their learning”. Especially if we are teaching to student-teachers, then, we need to equip them with the skills that they will use to create engaging online and open content for their students. I will definitely put this at the heart of my future teaching, but this time, I will make sure that each student-teacher taking my course “considers” (at least) open education as a future goal, thinks about what kind of licenses they need for the materials they produce as part of the course, and actively thinks about how collaboration with peers and other professionals in the world may benefit them as well. One important point for future teachers to consider is that the material (i.e. content) they share online will not be the same when it is used by another teacher in another “context”: it will need to be contextualized (as was discussed in the webinar for topic 2 of the course). This is something the teachers need to consider when they use an open access material: it needs to be adapted to the context. Therefore, critical evaluation and adaptation are skills we need to possess and teach to our students when it comes to open pedagogy. This is something that student-teachers taking my future courses will be made aware of.

The last two weeks have been eye opening for me thanks to our PBL group discussions, readings, the webinar, and the materials. I had the opportunity to reflect more on openness and I have made some future-decisions. Open access is the way to go, both in education and in research. Yet, ethical considerations and criticality still need to be at the centre of any decision making when it comes to openness in education.


Bates, A. W. (2015). Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for teaching and learning. Victoria BC: BCcampus. Recuperado de: https://opentextbc. ca/teachinginadigitalage.

Hegarty, B. (2015). Attributes of open pedagogy: A model for using open educational resources. Educational Technology, 3-13.

Sert, O. & Aşık, A. (2020). A Corpus Linguistic Investigation into Online Peer Feedback Practices in CALL Teacher Education. Applied Linguistics Review. 11(1), 55-78.

Published by Olcay Sert

I work as professor of English language education at Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication (Sweden).

3 thoughts on “Instructional materials and OPENness: a reflection on #ONL202 Topic 2

  1. Reading your blog Olcay, gave me an eye opener as well! So far, I have been far too focused on my own role as a teacher and researcher but now I just want to flip it and focus on how can I work with my students in a collaborative way so they can benefit from all the digital tools and make their own creative content based from their course work visible and shared in this open context!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was really interesting to read your blog Olcay, and especially about your experiences. I would really like to hear more about how to collaboratively produce together with the students. I wonder if you have (or plan to) done similar things with undergraduate students? My worry is that it would require quite a lot of editing (read: structuring) to arrive at a joint “product”. I also wonder if you could give an example of what would stop you from sharing and being open? As a health care researcher I would think that ethical considerations are important but what are your thoughts?


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