The role of Open Education: addressing social justice through collaboration and student co-creation



Work done with open textbook creators at UCT has enabled the DOT4D initiative to articulate models of open textbook production that are being employed by academics at UCT who are using their open textbooks to address social (in)justice in the classroom (Cox et al. in press(a)). Building on this background work, a new round of interviews with open textbook authors will be conducted to probe the exact nature of collaboration with students. Importantly, the authors aim to explore the values and attitudes of the academics who undertake open textbook production with student co-creators. Student inclusion is lauded in research as essential for student belonging, but little work has been done to look for the challenges involved when traditional power dynamics are disrupted. Open textbooks provide powerful affordances for collaboration, student empowerment and transformation of the curriculum (Bliss et al. 2013; Hilton and Wiley 2011; Cox et al. 2020, Cox et al. in press(a)). Not only do they save costs for students, they can also enable transformative social justice (Cox et al. 2020; Cox et al. in press(b)). Despite calls for social justice and inclusion in higher education over recent years, there is still growing structural inequality in terms of access to education, which extends to structural and economic oppression of marginalised groups. In this research we describe a potential nexus of three complementary components: open textbooks, social justice, and students as partners. We investigate the affordances of the open textbook to facilitate change in the power dynamics of content production as well as in classroom practice.


More about the presenter

Dr Glenda Cox is a senior lecturer in the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT: at the University of Cape Town and her portfolio includes postgraduate teaching, Curriculum change projects, Open Education, and Staff development. She holds the UNESCO chair in Open Education and Social Justice (2021-2024). She is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Students as Partners (joined in 2022). She is passionate about the role of Open Education in the changing world of Higher Education. Dr Glenda Cox is currently the Principal Investigator in the Digital Open Textbooks for Development (DOT4D) initiative. Her current research includes analysing the role of open textbooks for social justice.