“How Can OER Help My Course?” discussion prompt

I’m currently teaching “Sonic Ecology”, an Honors course that I first taught in 2015. I taught it again in 2019 — reusing many of the materials that I gathered in 2015. In 2021 (now in my third time through the class), many of these reused materials are getting threadbare or “stale” — YouTube links that I once shared are now dead, PDFs that I pulled from journal articles are now out of date, etc. Many of the creative/artistic examples that were exciting and new in 2015 now seem “old”, and I think students might be engaged to see “Sonic Ecology” art-making as a vital continuing practice, rather than something people did back in 2009 or 2012 or whatever.

I’d love to have open pedagogy knowledge that would allow me put the task of “updating” the course in the hands of students. Rather than endlessly chasing down ‘new’ or ‘fresh’ examples every time I teach the course — perhaps I could shift my focus to teaching CONCEPTS rather than CONTENT? And task students with uncovering content that represented the concepts? I’m not totally sure how I would do this in practice — I’m worried that students’ examples wouldn’t be as good as my older examples, not sure how the execution of this idea would function.

(This course is also fully remote and mostly asynchronous, so that also impacts my ability to give timely feedback to examples that students share with each other — in a classroom, we could quickly engage with each others’ examples and judge their merit.)


  1. Laura Silva

    I am currently teaching an online asynchronous course as well and am struggling with the sharing of ideas and feedback. I like how you are considering shifting your focus to concepts instead of content, which is similar to a thought I had as well. Essentially I want to consider my courses as a “toolkit” and identify what key takeaways (concepts) that I want them to have. I am hoping that this will help me conceptualize and materialize the course with the student’s input giving it more meaning!

  2. Jenna Sheffield

    I also like how you’re framing this around concepts rather than content! To your concern about students’ examples, I think that you could start by showing them some good examples yourself and clearly laying out how those examples reflect the concepts you’re presenting. Then, your rubric or feedback system can require that students put this same level of thought into their selection of examples. Looking forward to working with you on this!

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