Knowledge needs to be out there and easily reachable without charge to the end user
Dr Juan Klopper is the former Head of the Acute Care Surgery Unit and a surgeon in academic practice at Groote Schuur Hospital, where he specialises in emergency surgery. He is a Senior Lecturer in Surgery, Head of Postgraduate Surgical Research, and Head of Surgical Education at the University of Cape Town.
Juan’s passion lies in the development, creation and dissemination of knowledge in a means that is accessible to all and free of financial barriers. By using different formats and methods of content creation, he explores the use of online platforms and social media for broadening access to knowledge, particularly as relates to healthcare in South Africa.
In February 2019, Juan received a grant from the DOT4D project to support the development of “The Open Surgery Textbook”.
What is the problem he is trying to address?
Juan’s work is concerned with addressing the financial and structural barriers that exist around the production and dissemination of knowledge, particularly in fields that directly impact people’s lives, such as healthcare.
In addition to this, he has noted that the contents of the surgical textbooks currently in use are not applicable to the contexts interns in community service and junior doctors in the field are exposed to in their daily work, and are as such not fit for purpose. The open textbook he is developing seeks to create content which is not only openly licensed and free for use, but also relevant for the contexts in which it will be used.
What is his authorship approach?
Juan’s has adopted a “bottom-up” approach to developing an open textbook, in which medical students and practitioners in the field decide on the content. He believes that this approach enables an interrogation of the power dynamics in knowledge creation and an opportunity to engage with the realities experienced by healthcare workers in different parts of the country.
In order to create the “The Open Surgery Textbook”, Juan has identified medical specialists in hospitals who work in consultation with students, interns and junior doctors in their facilities to identify the content areas for which they are in most need of support and develop short content modules to address these skills gaps. Juan assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief in the process, ensuring that the content developed is applicable and of acceptable quality.
“The Open Surgery Textbook” creation process utilises a range of platforms to host and disseminate content, including Instagram, which is being appropriated to facilitate uninterrupted accessibility of content and convenience for students in training.