Finding open opportunities in a closed curriculum: Strategies for junior and contingent faculty

Finding open opportunities in a closed curriculum: Strategies for junior and contingent faculty was a presentation delivered at the OpenEd21 conference by Matt DeCarlo on 10/21/21.



Because universities predominantly employ contingent faculty—adjunct, part-time, or student teachers—it is important for the open education community to explore how to experiment with open pedagogy when the instructor’s power to change the syllabus, readings, and assignments is limited or nonexistent. By norm and policy, the power to determine instructional content largely rests with tenured faculty members who require contingent and junior faculty members to teach to a predetermined syllabus. This open space is dedicated to sharing the insights of teachers who find ways to integrate open pedagogy in disempowering environments. 

I would prefer to host this open space on a forum that allows for multiple methods of storytelling (video, audio, text) as well as commenting. I prefer to use Google Slides, but I would be happy to redesign it for Discord, Padlet, Flipgrid, or other platforms based on suggestions from reviewers or conference organizers. 

I will submit two examples to the platform. The first example uses Wiley and Hilton’s OER-enabled pedagogy framework to redesign a quiz into a collaborative book of case studies. Quizzes are one example of assignments for which contingent instructors likely have some flexibility—deciding topics, format, and platform—and this example will review how to find open opportunities in a closed syllabus. 

For assignments on a syllabus with detailed prompts and rubrics that standardize implementation, faculty may consider completing assignments themselves in collaboration with students. Faculty projects are unconstrained by the syllabus and can be redesigned to use open pedagogy. The second open pedagogy example applies Bali, Cronin, and Jhangiani’s open educational practices framework to a faculty-student advocacy project fighting unpaid student labor in human service agencies. 

The closed curriculum is a persistent message that the ideas of junior and contingent faculty (as well as students!) are not valuable and not welcome. By celebrating stories of clandestine experimentation, this space will help teachers recognize hidden opportunities and freedoms within prefabricated courses to introduce open pedagogy. Of course, open pedagogy is not a panacea. It is simply one way for faculty to engage students within an often moribund and exclusionary curriculum through experimentation, self-determination, and collaboration. 

Video recording

%d bloggers like this: