Open education and social justice: Putting together a JIME special collection (+ launch!)

On 13 May, I’ll be launching an Open Education and Social Justice-themed special collection for the Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME) along with my co-editor, Laura Czerniewicz, who is the Director of the CILT (T&L centre) at the University of Cape Town. This has been a labour of love since 2018. However, the topic – which is in essence one of digital equity – is of more importance than ever before as Covid-19 brings rapid digital delivery changes to higher education.

We have put social justice into action in terms of how we approached the editorial process, to ensure we didn’t just publish “the usual suspects” in the field but also opened up to emerging scholars. We also wanted to balance global south/global north voices. Global south is very active in OER practice, less so in publishing. 

I approached JIME to be the vehicle for the special edition as a good fit for these aspirations. JIME is open-access, auspiced by the Open University UK and indexed by Scopus. We got a small grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to enable us to pay professional academic research/writing mentors to work with the  authors who needed support to develop their work. Laura’s experience with similar author mentoring programs has been absolutely invaluable. The grant also paid for the APCs for some of the articles on top of those provided by the journal.

Composite image of concept map in draft stage and final formWe worked with 31 authors on 11 papers on the basis of a submitted extended abstract. Authors applied for mentoring to meet a range of needs/gaps in local support. Laura managed the mentor-mentee matching and management really sensitively. As editor, I also worked with three author groups to address theoretical and methodological issues, and provided support on addressing peer-review feedback. This work is detailed in the editorial Laura and I have written for the collection, in which I also present a concept-map and review of theoretical approaches to social justice used by the authors in the collection. I have loved the theory conversations very much, over the last six months in particular. It has been a real privilege to work with both experienced and emerging scholars and those new to the field – from all around the world. 

This has been a special project conceived of in 2018, when my PhD thesis writing had centred on social justice as the theoretical lens for my work. There is also an arc through to the current research project I’m leading, on Open educational textbooks. There are three excellent papers in the collection that address justice issues related to OER texts: a quantitative study from the US looking at benefits for black and Hispanic/minority learners; a case study of a national OER textbook project in South Africa; and an exploratory quasi-experimental study of the effects of diversifying the contents of an open textbook to correct gender-misrepresentation in a 100 level Psychology textbook.

It is very exciting to be able to launch these 11 papers and the special collection, which have garnered a lot of interest and support internationally.

You can now view a recording of the launch here:

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