In the period 2015–2017 South African higher education institutions were embroiled in widespread student protests around decolonisation of the curriculum and the call for free education. Addressing issues of access, inclusivity and pedagogical transformation remains a central imperative at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and other South African institutions. The Digital Open Textbooks for Development (DOT4D) project is a research, implementation and advocacy initiative at UCT which aims to explore the social justice dimensions of open educational practice and support open textbook production as a response to the current challenges of curriculum transformation and cost reduction.
The project aims to examine how academics involved in open textbook authoring and publication activity at UCT plan, implement and reflect on their activities. Within this context, there is a particular focus on the legal, technical, financial, pedagogical, cultural and agential factors that influence open textbook development – particularly as relates to issues of representation, intersectionality and inclusivity.
DOT4D also aims to support and encourage the development of an open education community of practice, both at UCT and in South Africa more broadly. Its small grants programme is designed to support innovation in open textbook development practice and stimulate pedagogical transformation. The advocacy agenda leverages findings from various project activities, including those from the recent Research on Open Educational Resources for Development initiative (Hodgkinson-Williams & Trotter, 2018), in order to stimulate and inform institutional and national open education policy-making and implementation agendas.
This presentation addresses the “Context” theme in that it reports on the open textbook publishing ecosystem at the University of Cape Town. It presents preliminary findings from DOT4D research, providing insights into the application of the project’s conceptual framework, which draws upon Nancy Fraser’s theorising on social justice (2005) and Margaret Archer’s (2000) conceptualisation of agency. It will also provide early insights gained from the project’s grants initiative and advocacy interactions, addressing the question of what interventions are required within the South African higher education system to promote open textbook production that supports curriculum transformation, intersectionality, affordable access and long-term sustainability.
Archer, M. S. (2000). Being Human: The Problem of Agency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fraser, N. (2005). Reframing Justice in a Globalizing World. New Left Review, 36, pp. 69–88. Available at https://newleftreview.org/II/36/nancy-fraser-reframing-justice-in-a-globalizing-world
Hodgkinson-Williams, C. A. and Trotter, H. (2018). A Social Justice Framework for Understanding Open Educational Resources and Practices in the Global South. Journal of Learning for Development, 5(3), pp. 204–224. Retrieved from http://www.jl4d.org/index.php/ejl4d/article/view/312