Written by Dave Braunschweig, Professor, Computer Information Systems

At the Achieving the Dream 14th Annual DREAM Conference last week, David Wiley, Chief Academic Officer of Lumen Learning, spoke about the difference between disposable assignments and renewable assignments. This is an extension of Open Educational Resources (OER) he describes as open pedagogy.

The concept is relatively simple. Most assignments students complete are disposable. The assignments have no lasting value beyond the experience itself, and may be thrown away at the end of the course. By contrast, renewable assignments are open to students in future course sections, and to anyone with similar interests worldwide. Renewable assignments enhance learning opportunities for future students.

Examples of renewable assignments include having students create public artifacts, learning guides, or videos as class projects. Projects may be as simple as rewriting instructions and examples in their own words, or as complex as a book chapter or YouTube tutorial explaining a challenging concept of the course.

The advantages of renewable assignments are two-fold. First, students perceive greater value and work harder to create content that will be public and used by their peers. Second, future students benefit from the information and examples provided, and are then able to build on and enhance that learning.

Wiley documented multiple studies showing improved student outcomes with renewable assignments over the same courses with disposable assignments. Successive semesters show even greater improvements as students build on the shared learning from their peers. See https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/2975 for an in-depth explanation and links to examples of renewable assignments Wiley’s students created.

Improved student outcomes through renewable assignments has also been my experience. Students work harder and learn more when they create public content. For examples of renewable assignments created by Harper students and others, visit https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Collaborative_Learning/Examples.

Contact me if you’d like to discuss ideas for renewable assignments in your courses.

(Photo credit: “course work” by Samantha (Wiki Ed) is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)