GO-GN Fellow Sarah Lambert writes about her Fellowship project.

Open Textbooks are a recent innovation in free, digital texts that can be:

  • distributed digitally at no cost;
  • printed at cost-price; and
  • modified for local needs, such as to correct gender, socio-cultural and indigenous under-representations and mis-representations in the curriculum.” (Lambert and Fadel, 2021)

I’ve spent the last 18 months working on a major piece of research into open textbooks in the Australian context, taking a social justice approach. The National Scoping study final report is due to be released in mid September after a raft of proofreading, quality checks and desktop publishing.  The quote at the start of this post is a proposed new definition for open textbooks, taken from the Conclusion of the report.  Throughout the last 9 months, I’ve been trying to work out how I can continue with this work, since there are so many different angles worthy of attention. For example, both the student and staff interview data affirmed the need for textbooks to be updated in ways that addressed sexist and racist language, stereotypes and under-representation in many textbooks. In particular, I wanted to be able to put some of the recommendations into action, though the development of a diversified textbook. I felt that something for the Business discipline that took a gender equity approach was particularly needed, and would have a huge impact due to the large number of students enrolled in those courses. This became the idea behind my GO-GN Fellowship application.

Around the time I was firming up the focus of the Fellowship, I received an offer from National Teaching Award winner Amanda White  (University of Technology, Sydney) for a part time research/project assistance contract to work on a local open textbook project.  I was really happy to have found a way to keep the open textbook momentum going, and put the findings and recommendations into action. We’ll be building 2 large 100 level open textbooks for the Australian accounting curriculum, incorporating gender equity, indigenous and Asian/Eastern knowledges as part of the process to modify the American text for local needs. There will be a student partnership element, and an action research element. I’ll be focussing on the diversity and research aspects.

We had our kick-off meeting recently and I met two more Accounting academics who’ll we’ll be collaborating with. We began by going through a topic-to-textbook matching framework set up in a Google sheet document, including noting the differences in CC licence types (avoid the ND version!). This will help us match learning outcomes with the most suitable US-based OER books and chapters that we want to adapt for 2 undergraduate and one post-grad/micro credential course. The Google doc will also capture the team’s views on what are the essential and nice to have revisions in terms of local content. While the teaching team are working on that, I’ll be starting work on the Ethics application. We plan to capture both student and staff data in the form of digital annotations/review notes and audio streams on the strengths and weaknesses of the actual chapters, including reflecting on the levels of current vs required diversity/inclusion in the text.

You can follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahLambertOz for updates on this project.

Lambert, S. R., & Fadel, H. (2021). Open textbooks and social justice: a national scoping study. http://ncsehe.edu.au