The DOT4D project investigates the current open textbook content production and publishing ecosystem at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Open textbook production is a crucial area of investigation in terms of pursuing a more socially just approach to the provision of teaching and learning materials and the high cost of education which limits access to higher education in South Africa.
Open textbooks provide a compelling solution as a means of addressing decolonised pedagogical transformation as well as the access crisis resulting from the high cost of proprietary published textbooks. There is, however, little evidence on how successfully they have been used (or re-used) by students and/or colleagues within or beyond UCT. In addition, there seem to be various models of creation, various platforms and software used in open textbook creation, but it is not yet clear in what ways these materials influence the curriculum and whether these could be marshalled as evidence for transforming or decolonising the curriculum.
The primary research question of the project is:
How and in what ways can models of open textbook development improve access and inclusion in higher education?
In order to address this question, the project has three main research activities:
1. Institutional landscape survey of UCT open textbook publishing.
2. National landscape survey of higher education institution intellectual property policies.
3. Case studies on UCT open textbook publishing initiatives.
The primary research question for the case studies component is:
What are the factors associated with current models of open textbook publishing at UCT and in what ways does the conceptualisation, creation, adaptation and use of these open textbooks provide opportunities to address curriculum transformation and affordable access?
Within the context of this overarching question, the case studies will address the following three sub-questions:
1. What are the legal, technical, financial, pedagogical, cultural and agential factors that influence the conceptualisation, creation, adaptation and use of open textbooks at UCT?
2. In what ways do academics see the process of conceptualising, creating, adapting and using open textbooks as an opportunity to engage with curriculum transformation?
3. 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?