Open Textbook Author Journeys: Internal Conversations and Cycles of Time

Keywords: agency, open textbooks, social justice, social realism


One of the challenges experienced in South African higher education (HE) is a lack of access to affordable, appropriate textbooks and other teaching materials that can be legally shared on online forums and the Internet. There are also increasing calls to address transformation and social justice globally and in South African HE through curriculum transformation. This article draws on the research of the Digital Open Textbooks for Development initiative at the University of Cape Town (UCT). It presents the journeys of four open textbook authors at UCT in relation to the social injustices they witness in their classrooms. It also makes use of Margaret Archer’s social realist approach to explore dynamics related to open textbook authors’ agency and ultimate concerns, as well as how their internal conversations shape their practices and approaches to open textbooks. Open textbooks are framed as a set of practices that play out in varying cycles of time and hold promise in terms of addressing the need for greater access and inclusivity in HE.

Author Biographies

Glenda Cox, University of Cape Town

Senior Lecturer, Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching

Michelle Willmers, University of Cape Town

Publishing and Implementation Manager, Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching

Bianca Masuku, University of Cape Town

Junior Research Fellow, Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching


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How to Cite
Cox, G., Willmers, M., & Masuku, B. (2022). Open Textbook Author Journeys: Internal Conversations and Cycles of Time. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 23(3), 134-152.
Research Articles