:sync: Participatory Pedagogy and Open Textbook Publishing Journeys: Emerging Models at the University of Cape Town

Authors: Glenda Cox, Michelle Willmers, Bianca Masuku
Institutions: University of Cape Town, UCT
Country: South Africa

Topic: Applications of Open Education Practices/Open Pedagogy/Open Education Research
Sector: Higher Education
UNESCO Area of Focus: Inclusive OER
Session Format: Presentation


Calls for action to address inequities in South African higher education have intensified in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown and the resulting move to remote learning, which threatens to deepen the education divide as large numbers of university students and lecturers struggle to access the connectivity, devices and educational tools required to participate in new ways of online teaching and learning.

Conceived with an explicit social justice and intersectionality focus, the focus of the Digital Open Textbook for Development (DOT4D) project at the University of Cape Town has been on investigating and supporting the interventions required to promote open textbook production that improve affordable access and support curriculum transformation efforts. In addition to research and advocacy components, the project also has a grants programme aimed at building the capacity of open textbook authors through modest financial aid and support in designing, writing, editing and publishing these texts/materials. The project provides a developing country perspective on open textbook publishing and the experiences of open textbook creators operating in resource-constrained environments who have embraced inclusive approaches to creating teaching materials that address issues of cost and inclusivity.

Using Fraser’s (2005) notion of ‘participatory parity’, the project interrogates open educational practices and open textbook publishing in the context of the affordances they provide to address social injustices related to economic maldistribution, cultural misrecognition and political misframing.

This presentation will share an overview of the project’s intersectionality framework, which provides a lens through which to examine how current open textbook production approaches support open education practices and curriculum transformation efforts that address current injustices related to the predominance of expensive, fully copyrighted textbooks from the Global North, education gaps amongst diverse cohorts of undergraduate students, multilingualism, and the misrepresentation or absence of student voice in teaching and learning materials.

The presentation gives insight into the emerging models of open textbook production employed by lecturers in the DOT4D grants programme at UCT and describes the journeys these authors have embarked on in collaboration with students, academics and practitioners in their various fields. It also provides insight into emerging open textbook publishing models and the various formats and genres of open textbooks currently being produced at UCT. The discussion on publishing models addresses the partnerships for publishing required in the new open textbook production landscape in which academics and institutions take on the role of the publisher in order to drive institutional transformation and alleviate injustices inherent in the South African higher education system.


Global South, open textbooks, pedagogy, social justice

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Presentation can be viewed at: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1lhALY7WmOBj463YfzyYlAQfIZ7ajCw5lTLviGR7vO7c/edit?usp=sharing

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