Making Critical Pedagogy ‘Open’: Learning Together in a Digital World

It was really nice to be more ‘textually’ engaged with Paulo Freire. I really enjoyed the clip showed a couple of week to end class and hearing him especially emphasize the benefit of problematizing assumptions that the professor is the master of knowledge and has the only correct answers in class contexts. Obviously, instructors never have ALL the answers; if they did, that would essentially make any human-centered approach to teaching a non-sequitur. The question then is, what is the benefit in making in class teaching more ‘open’ and exactly how do we go about doing it?

In my assigned reading of his 2000 work, The Pedagogy of Freedom, Freire is an extremely rare read for me, considering how and through which literature I matriculated through during my 1st and 2nd MA degrees, in History and then Material Culture and Public Humanities, at Virginia Tech. E.D. Hirsch, author of Cultural Literacy has always been my standard of excellence/ inspiration when attempting to carve out inclusive, critical, and student-centered syllabi.

Inspired by the Freire readings, of which I ended up reading all chapters, I began to examine the potentiality of critical pedagogy within a more digitally, interconnected world. Digital pedagogy is cost-free, publicly available online tools and platforms by instructors and students for teaching, learning, and communicating in support of educational goals. To keep such learning student-centered, however, digital pedagogy needs to be critical; fostering learning environments that empower learners and encourage them to act as co-creators of the platforms and learning spaces they use for their college work. Lastly, a digital pedagogy should be inclusive. Digital tools in the college classroom allows students to bring in their lived experiences and prior knowledge more readily, working against the banking concept of education. Open digital pedagogy moves the expertise away from the front of the classroom. Students and faculty have opportunities to interact with the world beyond an individual classroom, course, or college, and to more easily learn from and have an impact on it.

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