Using OJS and OMP for Open Pedagogy

February 8th, 2017 by  | Comments Off on Using OJS and OMP for Open Pedagogy

Instructors around the world are increasingly making use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) to save students money and to enhance learning outcomes. PKP is a strong supporter of the OER movement and our OJS and OMP applications play an important role by providing open source software for anyone, anywhere to create openly licensed scholarly journals or books (including open textbooks) for use in the classroom.

Building on the value of open educational resources, many instructors are now widening their focus to include experiments in open teaching practices, sometimes referred to as Open Pedagogy.

Open Pedagogy can include practices such as:

  1. Using only openly licensed materials in the classroom (articles, textbooks, videos, podcasts, etc.)

  2. Involving students in the discovery, evaluation, and use of relevant, openly licensed materials for classroom use

  3. Involving students in the generation of the course syllabus through open discussion and consensus-building

  4. Using peer assessment for improving student work

  5. Involving students in self-assessment of their work and classroom performance

  6. Having students create or revise Wikipedia articles in their areas of research, including updating or expanding external references

  7. Getting students involved in creating new openly available resources rather than just consuming them

  8. Reducing the barrier between the classroom and the community by opening the doors to anyone interested in participating and encouraging students to tackle real world issues for their research projects

  9. Having students share their projects openly, through blogging, submitting to an open access student journal or local newspaper, uploading their presentations or multimedia works on the web

This kind of deep student involvement, community engagement, and learner empowerment is based on earlier education reform movements (andragogy, social constructivism, heutagogy), but has been given renewed interest in the era of “openness” and participatory culture.

In “What is Open Pedagogy?”, David Wiley provides a particularly important element to open pedagogy when he describes the need for “killing the disposable assignment” and encourages instructors to stop assigning papers where students write for an audience of one:

These are assignments that students complain about doing and faculty complain about grading. They’re assignments that add no value to the world – after a student spends three hours creating it, a teacher spends 30 minutes grading it, and then the student throws it away. Not only do these assignments add no value to the world, they actually suck value out of the world. Talk about an incredible waste of time and brain power (an a potentially huge source of cognitive surplus)!

Doing away with the disposable assignment can be the first step for instructors interested in moving toward a more open pedagogy and OJS and OMP can help.

OJS as a Classroom Journal

Early innovations by Dr. George Garrity at Michigan State University and Dr. Heather Morrison at the University of British Columbia demonstrated how OJS could be used as a classroom journal.

In both cases, a new OJS journal was created for the course (e.g., MMG 445 Basic Biotechnology Journal), with the instructor acting as Journal Manager and Editor. A new issue was created for each offering of the course (e.g., Spring 2007, Fall 2008, etc.). Students were registered as both authors and reviewers. Each student submitted their work to OJS, with the instructor being able to see them come in and make any initial comments. The instructor then sent the student submissions to the student reviewers. As OJS supports a double-blind peer review process, students were unable to see who’s work they were reviewing or who had reviewed their work. Reviewer comments were shared with the authors, along with feedback from the editor (the instructor) and revisions were made. Once the final revisions were received, a grade could be assigned and the paper published to the issue, visible to the world. Post-publication open commenting is also available using the plugin, increasing the opportunities for open engagement with the broader community.

Submissions to a course journal do not need to be limited to research papers. Students could also submit presentations, videos, podcasts, posters, etc. Some kind of supplementary text would probably be expected to describe the project, but multimedia work can be an exciting and creative option for many students, and is fully supported by OJS.

To ensure the process works efficiently, students should be taught the basics of scholarly publishing: the importance of author guidelines and how to adhere to them, how to write a constructive, supportive review, the critical role of peer review in building knowledge, etc. This could be done by the course instructor or by a subject librarian as part of a wider information literacy/scholarly communications session.

The benefits of using a course journal include:

  1. Eliminates the disposable assignment and provides students’ with a global audience, increasing their motivation to put their best effort into their work

  2. Teaches students about the scholarly publishing system and improves their information literacy through hands-on experiential learning rather than by lecture or demonstration

  3. Educates the next generation of scholars about the value of open access, open education, and open source software

  4. Has students learn from one another through peer review

  5. Provides students with the opportunity to revise their work, learn from their mistakes, and make their final work stronger

  6. Highlights the value of the university by showcasing the final, revised version of student research and creative work

  7. Provides an ongoing record of student achievement with each published issue

  8. Post-publication commenting reduces the barrier between the classroom and the broader community

Although implementing a course journal will require some technical support (which many academic libraries are prepared to offer), a session on information literacy and scholarly publishing (again, often available from academic librarians), and some initial time up front from the instructor, the effort can provide a valuable student experience and an opportunity to experiment with open pedagogy.

OMP as a Classroom eBook

For instructors interested in trying this out but not ready to commit to an ongoing journal, Open Monograph Press (OMP) offers the same opportunity to publish student work, but in this case as a one-time monograph. The procedures are the same, but the resulting student work would be shared as chapters in a one-off book rather than as articles in an ongoing journal. Of course, a second book could be created if the experience was a positive one, but there can be less pressure to continue when published in monograph form.

OJS as a Student Journal

The past several years have seen the significant growth of student-led journals, many using OJS (e.g., See Also Journal). These journals are edited by students, with submissions written by students and reviewed by students, and are typically not part of any one class.

As an instructor, you can support this kind of student publishing and open pedagogy by:

  1. Informing your students about the benefits of student journal publishing if a journal doesn’t already exist at your school

  2. Provide support and guidance to students at your school running a student journal (having a faculty champion is critical to the ongoing sustainability of student journals, so be that champion — librarians can play this role, too)

  3. Serve as a member of the editorial board of the student journal, providing continuity, ongoing mentoring, and assistance with recruiting

  4. Talk about the benefits of the journal to your colleagues and encourage them to support the journal

  5. Work with your school to create a one-year, for-credit “professional experience” opportunity for the student editor-in-chief — this can help with recruitment and help to ensure sustainability

  6. If your library doesn’t already host OJS for faculty and students, ask them to do so

  7. Encourage your students to submit their projects to the journal by creating assignments with a publishable output and offering a grade percentage (e.g., 5%) as part of course participation

If you are interested in using OJS or OMP for an open pedagogy experiment, let me know. I’d be very interested to hear what you are planning and how it works out. I’ve been working directly with students journals for a few years now and am about to start an OMP classroom project with a faculty member at my university and will be happy to share my experiences in more detail.

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