Open Learning Bingo: Zines as Open Pedagogy

In my first series of experiments applying open learning experience bingo to descriptions of actual learning experiences, I’ve started with experiences cataloged in the Open Pedagogy Notebook. This second bingo card is for the open learning assignment “Zines as Open Pedagogy” by Elvis Bakaitis. You can browse all the open learning bingo games I’ve collected to date.

The first thing I’m noticing with this second bingo session is how the bingo cards end up displaying a sort of “heat map” of openness. Compare the two I’ve done so far and you can start to see clusters around ingredients and dimensions of openness. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves here, but if something like this bingo became a more common practice, one could start to find patterns in the openness of various learning experiences. I’m already imagining an overlay of bingo cards from multiple people for the same learning experience. The clusters of common and singular markings could be very interesting fodder for conversations about the openness of the experience.

Two 4x4 bingo cards side-by-side with highlights on various dimensions of openness in various learning experience ingredient squares.
Two Open Knowledge Practices Learning Experience Bingo 2.0 cards filled out by Nate Angell in December 2019. Left: for Jaime Marsh’s post, “What Open Pedagogy Taught Me“. Right: for Elvis Bakaitis’s post, “Zines as Open Pedagogy“.

I’m already trying to imagine a learning experience that would address every learning experience ingredient and dimension of openness, coloring in everything on a card. Such an experience might be impossible and monstrous, or it might be amazing.

One commonality you can see in this small sample is nothing is colored in for the places or goals ingredients. It could be that the reports of these learning experiences didn’t include information about their places and goals. It could be that my readings missed openings of places and goals in these experiences. It also could be that it might be fruitful to think about how the places and goals of these experiences could be opened.

Zines as Open Pedagogy

Let me try to explain why I marked up this bingo card as I did as a demonstration of how one can bingo openness. Before we start, I’d like to recognize that post from Elvis I played with is more of a general summary of how zine assignments are aligned with open education, with links to more specific examples that I didn’t have time to explore. I imagine many of those other examples have many dimensions of openness I didn’t see in this summary. Accordingly, I tried to strike a balance between being generous in identifying openness where it might have been just suggested (or even imagined by me), and being careful not to identify openness where it wasn’t clearly described in this specific post.

A 4x4 bingo card with highlights on various dimensions of openness in various learning experience ingredient squares. Materials: connect, create, include, share, surface; Activities: connect, include; Skills: include; Tools: include; People: connect, include; Roles: connect, surface; Places: blank; Times: blank; Goals: blank; Feedback: blank; Evaluation: create, include; Recognition: share; Design: share
An Open Knowledge Practices Learning Experience Bingo 2.0 card that Nate Angell filled out on 7 December 2019 for Elvis Bakaitis’s post, “Zines as Open Pedagogy“.

Materials

Clearly I saw a lot of openness in the materials within Elvis’s description of zine assignments, which makes sense given that zines are unique and compelling materials and I strongly agree with Elvis’s argument that zines are well-suited for open learning experiences. I’ll walk through each dimension of openness that I checked off for materials and try to explain why I included it.

Surface: Elvis discusses how zines as non-digital materials introduce other considerations to open learning experiences that are so often digital. I’m imagining that a zine open learning experience would necessarily surface how zines as materials are not only not digital, but decidedly analog, foregrounding their own materiality and construction, which is so much a part of zine practice. I would have checked off Reflect as well, but there was not clear evidence that the experiences called for participants to reflect on zines as materials, and how they might be different than other media.

Share: Elvis discusses how zines provide artifacts that participants can share, possibly in different ways than digital artifacts: perhaps more privately, perhaps more tangibly, perhaps with audiences who might not typically engage with something like a blog or social media post.

Create: Creating zines is clearly a part of these learning experiences. I would have checked off Develop too, but I didn’t see clear evidence that the experiences specifically called for reworking zines, maybe by going through drafts, or publishing series, etc.

Include: I checked off include because I see incorporating the non-traditional medium of zines into formal learning experiences as a kind of inclusiveness of materials, expanding the boundaries of what kinds of materials are the focus of a learning experience beyond traditional media and genres.

Connect: I checked off connect for a number of reasons: clearly zines can have an audience, impact, and lifespan beyond the context of the learning experience itself. But moreover, I see zines as highly intertextual — especially with their collage tradition — referencing and connecting out to not only other zines, but also other media.

Activities

Include: I checked off include for activities, because I see these zine experiences as necessarily bringing a new kind of activity not typically seen in formal learning environments: zine-making itself.

Connect: I see these zine experiences as engaging participants in activities that can have value beyond the context of the experience. I mean, what experience in life would not be improved by having a related zine? 🤪

Skills & Tools

Include: I checked off include for skills and tools, because I see zine-making as bringing skills and tools not typically seen in formal learning contexts (except in art classes), like X-acto knives, rubber cement, photography, cutting and pasting, collage, typography, print distribution, etc.

People

Include: I checked this off because of the specific point Elvis made that “there’s a strong overlap between the representation of queer, or otherwise marginalized authors, and this very welcoming, open format“. In short, zines open possibilities for marginalized people who might not otherwise find welcoming points of engagement with a learning experience.

Connect: I checked off connect for people as a sort of inverse of include: just as zines might provide pathways for engagement for diverse people within a learning experience, they might do the same for diverse people outside the experience. For example: I can imagine outside audiences that might connect with a zine, but might not be as interested in a formal academic paper that a more traditional assignment might produce.

Roles

Surface & Connect: I checked off surface and connect because I think any assignment that has people become active producers of materials that connect beyond the learning experience — like these zines assignments do — typically surfaces the roles of participants, shifting from learner to creator for something that has value outside the learning experience itself. With that thinking: learners within the experience become zine creators writ large, connecting a role within the experience to that role outside.

Evaluation

Create & Include: Here I was focused on Elvis’s point that the possibility of learners addressing highly personal topics in zines might call for teachers to create and/or include different forms of assessment that are sensitive to the diversity of learner experiences. Note that this dimension connects to the sharing of materials and how such sharing might need to be more private based on the sensitivity of the zines produced.

Recognition

Share: I checked off recognition given that sharing zines could open up other forms of recognition beyond grades and academic credentials. For example, someone might get recognition for their zine from an individual reader outside the experience, or from some external entity that recognizing zines rather than academic work. This is an opening that might be present often for experiences where learners create and share materials/activities/tools/etc that connect externally.

Design

Share: I checked this one off because Elvis clearly linked to multiple zine learning experiences that were shared. While I didn’t have time to explore those links, I can imagine that the experience designs shared also extended in other dimensions of openness.

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