Open Pedagogy in Trades Education

Chapter image for Open Pedagogy in Trades Education.
Authored by

Chad Flinn

Trades education lends itself nicely to the philosophy of OER and OEP.  Students are involved in the creation of their own hands-on skills from many sources during their apprenticeships.  However, some apprentices pursue a life in trades due to difficulties they may have had in standard formal education.  By utilizing the same model of an educational system, the system is setting some apprentices up for failure. Often the classroom-based training is a lecture-based lesson that may or may not be followed up with a lab to test the hypothesis of the lectures.  The students are given resources such as textbooks, handouts, exercise books, and lab books. The use of OER and OEP in vocational education has proven to be beneficial to vocational students, especially those who have previously struggled academically.

This video will provide an overview of how OER and OEP can benefit vocational education (cost savings as well as pedagogical benefits). The concepts are the basis of my thesis for my master of arts based on trades student’s perceptions of their experiences in the co-creation of OER.  The primary research question that framed this study was, “What is the experience of electrical trades students as they co-create and use OER during their own vocational education?”

Sub questions included the following:

  1. What are some barriers that students may encounter when co-creating OER?
  2. What strategies might be used to assess the contribution of co-creating OER resources to the student experience?
  3. What does it mean to co-create and use OER as a trade’s student?

Transcript: [add transcript here]

Open Pedagogy Design

Before the first open pedagogy project was introduced, we had a class discussion on group work.  It was discussed that the instructor would be observing that the groups were collaborating and that the work was not left to one or two members.  A session was devoted to instructing the students on using collaborative tools such as Google Slides and Slack. Each unit in the course started with the distribution of the same slide deck template to each group.  Each slide deck would contain headings and subheadings that covered all the learning outcomes for the unit. 

At the start of the project, I gave a mini-lecture on the context of all the outcomes for the unit.  Each unit was typically between 1-2 weeks in length.  Groups were also required to create videos explaining how they arrived at conclusions.  For assessment, it was important that the students participate in their own evaluation as well as their peers.  This was achieved through a process that occurred at the end of every unit and would involve all the students having a one-on-one interview with the instructor before the beginning of the next unit.

While this project was initiated in a face-to-face environment, it has since been adapted into multiple modalities including face-to-face, blended, and hyflex.  This project has also moved beyond Trades and vocational education training into other disciplines as well.

Activity: Reflection on Open Pedagogy Design

What is one small aspect of open pedagogy design that you can implement now?

Is there something that you can do to help the students accomplish outcomes without providing direction instruction? How can open pedagogy help support flexibility and self-direction that can support students creating more agency?

In your own teaching context, are there activities similar to those that would be used in a trades setting, that could be used in your own teaching for peer and self-assessment?

When might it be the instructor’s job to be the “sage on the stage” and transmit all the subject matter to students?  When might it be more effective to be the “guide on the side” and help the students create their own knowledge?  What could be some advantages of either? Particularly as you consider different modalities, what kinds of content and/or knowledge that might benefit from these different approaches?

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Textbooks, scholarly literature, and even current events reflected in venues ranging from social media to journalism, all present a continuous roll of issues that have topical relevance in a course setting. To use this lens dentify one or more issues that are relevant to the topic in this chapter. Issues can range very widely, from ongoing debates about privacy to public health to emerging stories about climate events.

Role Perspectives

Different roles can have an impact on interests and perspectives. For example, being a student is in itself a role – including domestic, international, full time or part time, newly matriculated or mid-career professional, along with such other possible roles as parent, administrator, educator or other areas within life outside of the educational milieu.


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Many learning experiences in higher education include various forms of experiential learning intended to integrate workplace or community-based learning with formal education. Focusing on a specific setting can help focus the learning on specific settings. You may come to your studies from, or with ambitions toward, a particular industry or workplace, community setting, within education or a profession, corporate or public sector, or any of many possible disciplines. For instance, learning design in higher education is often quite different from the corporate world or within government. These settings may have an influence on the perspectives you bring and/or would like to bring to your research and course work.

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