Welcome to the Open Learning & Teaching Collaborative

The Open Learning & Teaching Collaborative at Plymouth State University is a dynamic site of pedagogical praxis dedicated to innovative teaching and learning and a community-driven approach to academic professional development. The Open CoLab is focused on:

  • supporting PSU faculty and staff as they design student-centered educational environments with special emphasis on interdisciplinarity, project-based learning, and open education;
  • developing practical and creative possibilities for pedagogical innovation within an integrated academic environment;
  • and inspiring a national conversation about how to build accessible, empowering, and sustainable public learning ecosystems for the 21st century.

The Open CoLab is an initiative that focuses on praxis: the linking of theories, ideas, and research about pedagogy with actual teaching practice. We are deeply committed to nurturing learning environments that are responsive to student need, that grow from faculty understanding of both disciplinary content and the future of academic knowledge, and that amplify the impact of the academy on the public good.

In particular, we are focused on fostering professional development that strengthens Plymouth State’s photo of diner“cluster pedagogy.” “Cluster pedagogy” powers a unique academic environment that supports: integrated and interdisciplinary inquiry and research; project-based learning that extends past the walls of the classroom; and, open infrastructures and approaches that remove barriers and empower students to contribute to the knowledge commons.

The Open CoLab enacts its commitment to these engaged pedagogies in its approach to faculty development as well: we actively seek to improve and transform traditional professional development methods and to grow and sustain new initiatives from inside our faculty and staff’s community of practice.

The Open CoLab is organized into four main units:

  • Instructional Design: we support faculty in designing learning experiences, courses, and programs that are consistent with the mission, vision, and needs of a university deeply committed to innovative pedagogy;
  • Open Education: we coordinate efforts to increase educational access through OER and to engage our colleagues and students in open pedagogical practices that emphasize collaboration, inclusion, the democratization of knowledge, and the critical assessment of educational tools and structures;
  • Public Impact: we help the campus develop ways of connecting university teaching and research to the needs of broader contexts;
  • Interdisciplinary Learning: we administer an open-pedagogy-based Interdisciplinary Studies major, pilot innovative teaching strategies and academic structures, and work to scale and/or integrate successful ideas across the institution as appropriate.

The Open CoLab is not just a teaching and learning center. It is a lab space where our community can actively engage with the scholarship of teaching and learning, play with new approaches to disciplinary content and methods, find support for linking our work to related work in other contexts and fields, and learn and create together as part of an integrated community.