25 Years of OU – 2011: JIME

Around this time I became a co-editor of The Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME) with my colleague Ann Jones. It had been founded in 1999 by Simon Buckingham Shum, operating their own software, fully open access and an open peer review model. It was very experimental at the time – even a fully online journal was novel. Simon and Tamara Sumner outline the innovative nature of the journal in this article.

It transferred into IET later, and shifted its focus more to open education. The recurring academic institution issue of maintaining legacy software arose, and finding funding to do so, and so it was relaunched using OJS, the open source journal system. We had some technical support in IET to maintain this, but not much beyond the annual updates and checks.

Ann and I continued with this model but it became clear we would need someone who was engaged with the OJS community more regularly, and there wasn’t sufficient resource for this. We went for a hosted option then with the open access Ubiquity press, who run a version of OJS, host the site and engage with things like library databases, DOIs, etc. It’s a good model, and they provide an excellent service. They handle the things we don’t really have time or expertise for, and are very collegial. It’s not the antagonistic relationship that many commercial academic publishers have with universities.

Ubiquity operate an affordable APC model, but we managed to acquire an annual grant from IET to cover these costs for a set number of articles every year so it remains free for authors. This may not be a very exciting innovation, but I think it represents a viable model for many journals – combining external hosting with an allowance for APCs.

I always feel vaguely guilty that I don’t have sufficient time to give to JIME. It is less innovative than it was back at its inception, but crucially, it is still here. I am allowed to allocate around 15 days a year to it in my workplan. That, combined with similar for other members of the editorial board and the allowance for the hosting and fees represents a considerable donation by IET. Accountants might wonder if it represents good value for money. Which is what I sometimes wonder myself about academic publishing in general. The amount of time I have for the journal is really just about enough to keep it going, but not to do much more experimental stuff. To do more would require a much greater outlay. And, to put it harshly, is it worth it? There are so many other means of disseminating information.

But I am proud of the special collections we publish, such as the Open Ed and Social Justice one, or History of Ed Tech, and more generally that we have published articles open access, free to authors for so long. Perhaps the lesson from JIME is that keeping going is itself an achievement.

Covid-19 bit: I think if we’ve learnt anything this year, it’s that simply keeping things going is under-appreciated. Making sure a decent service is operational is really the hard graft – flashy stuff, which is not sustainable in the long term is easy. As with JIME and so with learning technology in 2020 – here’s to the grafters who keep shows on the road.

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