This brief introduction in the first Open Praxis issue in 2019 reports on some information and data about the Open Praxis development in the period from January 2013 to December 2018, with a special focus on volume 10, published in 2018, similar to the brief reports published in past years (Gil-Jaurena, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). Table 1 includes different journal statistics, such as number of submissions, number of published papers; acceptance rates; number of authors and number of reviewers.
|2013, volume 5 issues 1–4||2014, volume 6 issues 1–4||2015, volume 7 issues 1–4||2016, volume 8 issues 1–4||2017, volume 9 issues 1–4||2018, volume 10 issues 1–4|
|Innovative practice papers||2||6||3||2||4||3|
|Software or book reviews||2||-||2||6||2||1|
|Rejected before peer-review||10||10||10||15 (+ 4 book reviews)||17 (+ 3 book reviews)||10 (+ 3 book reviews)|
|Days to review||47||41||56||63||56||61|
|Days to publication||107||118||117||158||169||163|
|Number of authors||65||81||71||65||80||70|
|Average authors per paper||1,71||2,31||2,15||1,91||2,11||1,94|
|Number of reviewers||45||53||61||59||66||58|
66 authors (excluding the editor) contributed to Open Praxis volume 10 with their research, innovative practice, special papers or book reviews, compiling a total of 32 published items. Considering the international scope of the journal, contributions are geographically and institutionally balanced, coming from 18 different countries. The 58 reviewers also reflect a gender, geographical and institutional balance, as shown in the list available in the Open Praxis website (http://openpraxis.org/index.php/OpenPraxis/pages/view/reviewer).
The Open Praxis website has received visits from all over the world (figure 1), being the following the top ten countries (in descending order): United States (38,81% of the users), United Kingdom (6,17%), India (5,28%), Canada (4,44%), Palestine (4,05%), Australia (2,67%), South Africa (2,13%), Philippines (2,09%), France (1,86%) and Indonesia (1,76%).
About the scientific impact, citations to Open Praxis in academic publications (journals, conference proceedings, books, etc.) have progressively increased since the relaunching of the journal in 2013 (figure 2). The current Open Praxis h-index is 24 (source: Google Scholar, January 30th 2019).
After this brief report, what follows is an introduction to the first Open Praxis issue in volume 11, which includes seven research papers.
The first two papers present literature review studies with regards to the profile of online and distance education learners.
In the first article (Challenges Faced by Adult Learners in Online Distance Education: A Literature Review), Mehmet Kara, Fatih Erdoğdu, Mehmet Kokoç and Kursat Cagiltay, from Turkey, review 36 papers and identify internal (management, learning and technical challenges), external (job and domestic challenges) and program-related (tutor and institutional) challenges that adults experience when they are learners in online distance mode. They explain both the literature review procedure and the findings in detail, and conclude with some guidelines for administrators and practitioners in order to confront those challenges.
In the second paper (The Complexity of Transnational Distance Students: A Review of the Literature) William H. Stewart, from Korea, focuses on a specific profile in distance education in our current global world: transnational students. Building upon this emerging category, he reviews 45 papers and presents the findings highlighting aspects such as the complexity of cross-border situations, the role of distance education in facilitating access, or socio-political and cultural circumstances that tend to be simplified and not considered in their full meaning and potential. The author invites to further explore and recognize the complexity of transnational distance education students, beyond national frames.
Also dealing with cultural aspects but from a different perspective, in the next paper (Dropout patterns and cultural context in online networked learning spaces) Aras Bozkurt and Yavuz Akbulut, from Turkey, root their study on labelling learners’ cultural context according to their nationality and studying its relation with dropout in a MOOC. Through social network analysis and visual representation of the position each learner holds in the network (central vs peripheral) and their inter-relations, the study provides interesting information about dropout patterns and points out practical implications of the findings.
The next three papers present survey-based studies about faculty perceptions of open education –the first one at a country level and the second one at an institutional level–, and about students’ perceptions, respectively.
In the first survey-based study (Open Practices in Public Higher Education in Portugal: faculty perspectives), Paula Cardoso, Lina Morgado and António Teixeira have asked 348 University teachers about open educational resources (OER) and open access (OA), considering, in each case, knowledge, use, barriers and incentives. The results show the landscape in Portugal, where the authors state that there is work to do in the promotion of openness, starting from raising awareness and knowledge both about OER and OA.
The second study (“I find the whole enterprise daunting”: Staff understanding of Open Education initiatives within a UK university) by Sinead Harold and Vivien Rolfe, used a survey with 67 respondents (most of them faculty), and interviewed 4 lecturers in the University of the West of England. Similarly to the previous study in Portugal, the topics were OER and OA, and the dimensions they explored covered understanding, use/activity and attitude (positive or negative) towards open initiatives. The results show some unexpected correlations and highlight barriers that staff face when approaching open initiatives. The authors suggest directions for further research and for institutional actions and policies to support open education.
In the last survey-based study (But What Do The Students Think: Results of the CUNY Cross-Campus Zero-Textbook Cost Student Survey), with regards to OER, a group of teachers at various CUNY campuses, USA –Shawna Brandle, Stacy Katz, Anne Hays, Amy Beth, Cailean Cooney, Jacqueline DiSanto, Linda Miles and Abigail Morrison– present learners’ views about the ZTC courses. The study explores the access to the ZTC materials (moment, place, device, printed/online access), perceptions of benefits and drawbacks. As a first study about this experience, the results shown are positive and help to identify aspects for improvement in future ZTC courses.
Finally, George Gyamfi, Panida Sukseemuang, Kornsak Tantiwich and Pittayatorn Kaewkong, from Thailand, also focus on students’ views in their paper Self-study with the Educational Technology, Tell Me More: What EFL Learners do. They explore, using a survey and a group interview, how 350 undergraduate students used the Tell Me More computer-learning program autonomously. The findings show what the learners’ practices are, including multitasking and some inconsistent practices. The authors point out some implications and recommendations to take advantage of the program for improving English language skills.
We hope these contributions will invite to reflection and innovation in open, distance and flexible education.
Special thanks from Open Praxis to the authors and reviewers who have contributed to this issue.