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Are you an Open Educator?

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What is an Open Educator?

According to a recently published article from the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL):

An Open Educator chooses to use open approaches, when possible and appropriate, with the aim to remove all unnecessary barriers to learning. He/she works through an open online identity and relies on online social networking to enrich and implement his/her work, understanding that collaboration bears a responsibility towards the work of others.

Does this sound attractive for English language teachers? It seems to some who offer courses through or with YouTube. But what does it mean "to remove all unnecessary barriers to learning?" Working for free? Not necessarily. If you read the article, it seems you'd be working on a sliding scale depending on the socioeconomic status of the learners, but this sliding scale is a sliding slope. How can poor learners prove their poor? How easy is it for wealthy learners to show you that their not wealthy?

What does an Open Educator do?

Let's assume you can make a living as an Open English Language Educator. What are the practices of an Open Educator? The article lists four main activities:
  1. Implements open learning design by openly sharing ideas and plans about his/her teaching activities with experts and with past and potential students, incorporating inputs, and transparently leaving a trace of the development process.
  2. Uses open educational content by releasing his/her teaching resources through open licenses, by facilitating sharing of her resources through OER repositories and other means, and by adapting, assembling, and using OERs produced by others in his/her teaching.
  3. Adopts open pedagogies fostering co-creation of knowledge by students through online and offline collaboration and allowing learners to contribute to public knowledge resources such as Wikipedia.
  4. Implements open assessment practices such as peer and collaborative evaluation, open badges, and e-portfolios, engaging students as well as external stakeholders in learning assessment.

After reading this, are you on the Open Educator train now? What attracts you to and repulses you from this type of teaching? Do you think this is the future of English language teaching? What about your boss? Does he or she want this to be the future of your program?

Transformation Process

The last part of the article describes how to transform from a traditional teacher to an Open Educator. I can see myself in both early stages of the transformation process. The framework they provide helps me to see if this is the direction I want to go in. Where in this process are you? Do you want to move forward a little, a lot, or do you prefer to stay a traditional teacher (at least for now)?

Depending on where you teach, some teachers get to participate in all of these categories.

  • Collaborative designer = as it states (This is actually the main purpose of my current job.)
  • OER novice = you share materials with colleagues and the online community
  • Engaging teacher = you integrate technology into the classroom
  • Innovative evaluator = assessment is done with peers 
As a side note, many intensive English programs in the United States are required to demonstrate most elements of this phase to earn or maintain accreditation. This does not necessarily mean the program must move towards Open Education.

  • Open designer = you share your ideas online (like I'm doing here)
  • OER expert = you use, produce, and distribute OERs often
  • Open teacher = you and your students share learning openly
  • Open evaluator = goes beyond the school to evaluate students' learning
As a side note here, I assume most English language programs would not support most of these elements for proprietary reasons. If an English language teacher in a very competitive for-profit English language program decided to become an Open Educator, then they will be at high risk of losing their job. However, my experience in multiple schools shows that it's the teacher-student relationship or rapport or engagement that is makes one's program unique and not the curriculum. My belief is that if students feel appreciated and cared for in a program, then more students will be drawn to your program. An open curriculum (that is effective and efficient) across multiple programs is like a rising tide that floats all boats. However, many administrators do not share this belief or do not understand this model well enough. It's this belief helps me strive to become an Open Educator. 

So where are you in terms of Open Education? Will you lead the effort, participate in the effort, watch the effort closely or from afar?


Nascimbeni, F. & Burgos, D. (2016). In search for the Open Educator: Proposal of a definition and a framework to increase openness adoption among university educators. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. Retrieved from



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