Day 11 - Anatomy of an Open Educator



The purpose of this module is to provide you with an opportunity to explore the following:

  • Defining characteristics of Open Educators
  • Frameworks for assessing your own level of openness as an educator
  • Strategies for developing your skills and approaches to become a more open educator

Open educators are mindful of sharing have collaborative vision, use inclusive pedagogy and measure learning in open ways.

Welcome to Day 11!

Greetings! - My name is Maureen Glynn. I’m an Instructional Designer at Ryerson University and an eCampusOntario Open Education (OE) Fellow. I’m still on my own path towards becoming an open educator and welcome as much company as possible on the journey! I’ll share some ideas from people who have reflected deeply on what it means to teach and learn in the open and invite you to add your voice to the conversation. Look for me on Twitter @MGtheID.

This module looks at the “Anatomy of an Open Educator” and, as you enter the final third of this course you are no doubt beginning to resemble the model pictured above. In earlier modules, you examined how to build an open community, used open tools, figured out the world of CC licenses, looked at types of OER and how you might adapt, adopt or create them, and considered inclusive design, all of which are part of the DNA of an open educator. However, it is important for us to pause here and consider the full profile of an Open Educator since it has been argued that those who teach play a central role in the ultimate success of Open Education. (Nascimbeni & Burgos, 2016).

Much of this Module has been informed by the Open Educator Factory Project, an undertaking dedicated to exploring the role of university teachers as “agents of change” for openness in education.

 Find, Review, Reflect

Search Nascimbeni and Brugos definition of “The Open Educator”, which emerged from their research for the Open Educator Factory Project.

Once you have located and reviewed the definition, reflect on and note the language and ideas within in it that you connect with most readily.


The purpose of this module is to provide you with an opportunity to explore the following:

  • Defining characteristics of Open Educators
  • Frameworks for assessing your own level of openness as an educator
  • Strategies for developing your skills and approaches to become a more open educator

An Eye for Open Design

close up image of an eye

Open educators are collaborative in their vision for curriculum and learning design in the following ways:

  • They share their ideas and plans for their courses
  • They invite input on their designs for teaching and learning
  • They engage other subject matter experts, as well as past, present, and potential students in dialogue about their designs
  • They document their learning design process for the benefit of themselves and others

A Mind for Open Content

illustration of a brain

Open Educators are broadly mindful of sharing with respect to the resources that they use in their teaching.  Some examples of their sharing practices include:

  • They release their own work with open licenses, and through multiple vehicles such as social media and repositories
  • They search for and make use of OER created and shared by others through the vehicles mentioned above
  • They think beyond the classroom when sharing their work and consider the community and non-enrolled learners as users of their content

Mindfulness is an important characteristic of the open educator. In the words of Nascimbeni and Brugos (2016), open educators understand that “....collaboration bears a responsibility towards the work of others.”(p.4)

Think About it….

What does it mean to have a responsibility towards the work of others? What issues of privacy or use of personal data should an open educator consider in their work?

A Heart to Embrace Open Pedagogies

image of hearts

In their pedagogy, open educators embrace and include others in their strategies for knowledge creation. The see their students as co-creators of knowledge and themselves as learners as well as teachers. Open educators have been described as those who value social learning and challenge traditional roles and expectations of teaching (Cronin, 2017) In doing so, open educators give learners greater agency in their own outcomes and those of their peers.

A Hand in Open Assessment

hand with a measure tape wrapped around it

Open educators have a hand in assessment, but importantly, they loosen their grasp on certain aspects of learning evaluation and leave room for the hands of others as well. They re-set their grip on assessment by:

  • Encouraging peer and collaborative evaluation
  • Supporting use of ePortfolios and personal domains as homes for student work
  • Inviting other stakeholders and communities of practice to participate in assessment of learners’ work
  • Soliciting feedback from students and others in an effort to continually improve their practice

A Discoverable Presence

Much of the research on open educators agrees on one critical characteristic - that is that they are, by nature, networked individuals who have established online identities. In other words, they have made themselves “discoverable”, and are connected with those who have done the same.

As a result of this presence in networked and online spaces, ongoing effort and consideration is required by open educators to maintain a balance between privacy and openness (Cronin, 2017).

balanced scales

The Whole Picture

When you take all of these parts of the open educator anatomy and combine them into a living, breathing person, what does that look like?

Watch this video of Simon Bates, a Killam Teaching Prize winner at his home institution of  University of British Columbia (Run time 2 min 5 seconds).

icon of a person with several thought clouds above their headThink About it….

Think about the anatomy of an open educator as described so far in the module.

  • How many of the characteristics can you identify in Simon’s video?
  • Would you describe Simon as an Open Educator?


As Catherine Cronin (2017) writes, “Open practice is not a one time decision”. (p.27). Correspondingly, becoming an open educator does not happen overnight. There are so many aspects of an educators activities that create opportunities for openness it is truly an ongoing process of evolution. This evolution is not achieved without work,and it certainly requires some stamina, but as earlier modules have made clear, the benefits are multiple and many. And, of course, when you are in working in the open, you are never alone!!

Day 11 Activity

Option 1
An Open Education “Diagnostic”

Sign up for the Open Educators Factory platform and complete a self assessment of your level of development in terms of Open Education.

Upon receiving your assessment and feedback - review the ideas, and suggestions offered to support your development.

Set 3 development goals for yourself that will help you transition to the next level as an open educator. Your goals may be specific to one area of activity (Design, Content, Teaching, Assessment), or a combination of areas, depending on your takeaways from your self-assessment. Here are the the three goals:

  • One change you can make to your practice in the next week
  • One change you can make to your practice in the next month
  • One change you can make to your practice in the next year

You can choose to share your work in the Day 11 discussion forum in the course shell, in a social media space, with family, friends, and colleagues, or just save your goals to return to in one week, one month, and one year.

Option 2
Find an Open Education Training Buddy

Learning is always better when you have company. Seek out a training partner to work with as you develop your skills as an open educator. Plan to meet with them in person or virtually or on a regular basis to check in with one another on your development activities in the area of open education. Your training partner might be a local colleague, or even someone you have encountered in this course!

Explore More

eCampusOntario’s Extend Modules:

Open Educational Practices in Scotland Project - Becoming an Open Educator:


Cronin, C. (2017). Openness and praxis: Exploring the use of open educational practices in higher education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(5).

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. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning, 17(6). doi:

Research/open educators factory (2017) In WikiEducator. Retrieved from

Image Credits

Anatomy of an Open Educator by Maureen Glynn is licensed with a CC BY 4.0 International license

Hand Photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash


All content for Making Sense of Open Education Day 11 by Maureen Glynn is licensed with a CC BY 4.0 International  license (unless otherwise indicated with citation and/or attribution).

Last modified: Friday, 8 June 2018, 3:10 PM