This is a guide for post-secondary course instructors interested in using Open Journal Systems (OJS) for the creation of course journals. Course journals are online, open access academic journals published as part of a for-credit class. Depending on the nature and goals of the course, students may write and provide peer review for journal content, or they may set up the journal, develop policies, and make decisions around the editorial practices.
Course instructors in any discipline may choose to publish a journal with their class to showcase student work and give students hands-on experience with the publishing process.
As an assignment, course journals are an opportunity to develop and/or strengthen skills such as writing, critical thinking, research, editing, and giving and responding to feedback. Students learn about the scholarly publishing system and the value of open access, open education, and open source software. They have the opportunity to work collaboratively to make decisions for their journal, including discussion and selection of a Creative Commons license, developing policies around author rights, and considering what types of content they will publish. Their publication may include visual art, podcasts, videos, and/or music.
Course journals are an example of Open Pedagogy. They engage students as creators of information by involving them in contributing, editing, and publishing content. Course journals move away from a “disposable essay” read only by the professor and/or Teaching Assistant. They provide learning opportunities for critical thinking, communication, information literacy, and citation/intellectual property - skills that will help students in other classes and throughout their lives. They also offer opportunities to discuss and debate the standards of practice around scholarly communications as a whole, such as the anonymous review process and the often-invisible labour involved in academic knowledge dissemination.
For more information about the benefits of course journals, see the blog post by Kevin Stranack, the Managing Director of PKP: Using OJS and OMP for Open Pedagogy