Jimes, C., Weiss, S., & Keep, R. (2013). Addressing the Local in Localization: A Case Study of Open Textbook Adoption by Three South African Teachers. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(2), 73-86. 


Examining the use of open textbooks by three high school teachers in South Africa, this case study documents the results of when open textbooks feature content that is rooted in the cultural and geographic contexts in which they are used.

The South Africa initiative authored and licensed the open textbooks collaboratively, and faculty were allowed to use and modify the texts freely to fit their needs. After conducting interviews with faculty, the researchers found that teachers’ adoption of open textbooks were often tied to whether or not they were localized since teachers considered the local content of the texts to be more relevant and of higher quality. This study concludes that the impact of open textbooks can be maximized when they are created based on localized knowledge and contexts.

I have concerns about the scale and generalizability of the study’s findings. At what point is content so local that it becomes unethical to teach? Collective authoring practices helped mitigate and ensure quality in this study, but the dogmatic beliefs of certain communities could run counter to more empirical academic content. Alternatively, there may be value in customizing the media and interfaces of OER to local needs, but the results of effectively doing so and monitoring such practices are not discussed here.


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