Indigenous authorship on open and digital platforms: Social justice processes and potential

Johanna Funk, Kathy Guthadjaka

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    Online digital platforms can increase access to educational opportunities for marginalised students, authors and communities, but digital platform design can further marginalise Indigenous knowledge because such platforms are structured according to western epistemological assumptions. They do not accommodate for Indigenous or alternative knowledge frameworks. 

    In addition, the premium placed on openness by certain platforms and licenses contradicts the approaches preferred by Indigenous knowledge authorities who tie the sharing of some types of knowledge to the identity and authority level of the intended audience. Knowledge in this context is not understood as discrete units of information that can be abstracted from their communities, easily shared on public platforms, but rather as sensitive materials that can only be shared by recognized knowledge authorities for specific purposes. 

    The processes by which Indigenous knowledge authorities engage with knowledge sharing on digital platforms comprise a complex landscape in which social justice concerns come into play. This paper discusses how, within institutional design contexts, open educational practice (OEP) by Northern Australian Indigenous authors can enable different forms of social justice and work incrementally towards achieving greater recognition of Indigenous intellectual sovereign acts with due respect to the wider significance of Indigenous Sovereignty (Rigney 2001). It examines three sets of Indigenous open resources to gauge the extent to which open digital platforms allow for the expression of Indigenous knowledge authority, one necessary feature for achieving social justice in the Australian context. It examines the resources using Fraser’s social justice framework (2005) as modelled by Hodgkinson-Williams and Trotters’ (2018) and Lambert’s (2018) approach to educational resources, and how design decisions can result in greater justice in knowledge affirmation and transformation but originate in offline decision making.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number6
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Interactive Media in Education
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2020


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