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4 – Empowering creators: Student agency and digital safety in alternative assignments


  • Erika Bailey, University Libraries, UW Tacoma
  • Marisa Petrich, University Libraries, UW Tacoma


This poster focuses on critical questions and examples of how student agency, privacy, and intellectual freedom can become a focus of open pedagogy and alternative assignments.

Increasingly, instructors are offering opportunities for students to publicly share their work online — be it a class website, blog, or paper alternatives such as podcast episodes or short videos. These assignments have great potential to impact students’ digital identities and awareness of their own intellectual property rights beyond the parameters of the academic environment. This takes on increased importance when we consider that students from already marginalized identities may be more vulnerable to online harassment or doxxing.

Through our work in instructional design and digital scholarship, we have collected models and resources to incorporate these themes as additional learning opportunities and to help instructors facilitate safe learning environments for their students. The model of awareness students develop will continue to be relevant beyond the classroom, as our social and professional lives become increasingly online.

This contextual frame can teach students to make informed choices about their own creative works and their online presence — for instance, by offering students the chance to select their own copyright license for publicly shared work. These instructional practices are drawn from our own experiences as library instructors, collaborative assignment development with faculty, and professional discourse and literature on open, critical, and digital pedagogy. While these examples have been drawn primarily from work with undergraduate courses, they can be applied broadly to any publicly shared assignment.

Our poster will present case studies, sample assignments, and theoretical frameworks for scaffolding alternative assignments, which can be adapted across disciplines and for a diverse range of digital projects. With these, instructors can champion their students’ intellectual freedom, digital safety, and roles as content creators.

View a PDF of this poster