Journal of Applied Instructional Design Special Issue 2020 – Call for Proposals

Attending to Issues of Social Justice through Learning Design

Special Issue Editors 

Dr. Theodore J. (TJ) Kopcha, Associate Professor of Learning, Design, and Technology, Dept. of Career and Information Studies, University of Georgia.

Dr. Tutaleni I. Asino, Associate Professor of Educational Technology and Director, Emerging Technologies and Creativity Research Lab, Oklahoma State University.  

Dr. Lisa A. Giacumo, Assistant Professor of Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning, Director, Marginalized and Cross-Cultural Research & Design (MarCC R&D) Learning Tech Group Lab, College of Engineering, Boise State University.  

Ms. Katherine Walters, Doctoral Student of Learning, Design, and Technology, Dept. of Career and Information Studies, University of Georgia.


Across the globe, recent events have brought the reality and consequence of inequality and oppression to the forefront of our awareness. Economic and racial disparities in healthcare exposed by COVID-19 intersect with outrage over a neglect for basic human rights, creating an urgent and pressing need to address the systemic nature of such issues. As the educational community moves into conversation and action around these systemic inequalities, many are asking, “What can I do?” 

At first glance, the field of learning, design, and technology seems an unlikely context for taking up such issues. Scholars in our field have a rich history of studying the ways that technology improves learning and performance in various educational contexts. While this perspective is an undeniable part of our field’s identity, it is also arguably a narrow one. It ignores a growing interest and focus on learning design and the role that technology can play in addressing ongoing and longstanding issues of systemic injustice and oppression.

The reality is that our field is not merely a collection of tech-savvy scholars. We are a diverse, interdisciplinary group of educators who engage in learning design in very complex and creative ways. Broadly speaking, our work explores how the purposeful analysis and design of learning environments can address persistent problems in a variety of educational and organizational settings (e.g., McKenney & Reeves, 2017). We care deeply about the learner and the learner’s experience, and how to support that experience best in a given context. To achieve this goal, we blend theory and technology in new and novel ways to develop, implement, and evaluate the efficacy of both instructional and non-instructional interventions. For many of us, this entails working in and pushing back against systems that promote or perpetuate injustice and inequality. 

Whether we have consistently engaged in this work, or are brand new to these considerations, now is an opportune time to reflect on the role of our field in enacting social change. In this special issue, we therefore explore the following questions: 

How can learning design be applied and leveraged to promote social, political, and economic change? And what role can we, as designers, play in that work? 

Article Types

We specifically seek contributions from K-12, higher education, and other organizational or workplace contexts (e.g., non-profit organizations, government, corporate) that focus on how learning design can serve as a tool for pushing back against and/or changing systems that often promote or perpetuate injustice and inequality. Such work will likely deviate from more traditional instructional design and performance improvement approaches or improve upon them in some way to address topics that include but are not limited to:

  • Culturally-situated and cross-cultural approaches to instructional design and research 
  • Improving performance in the context of workplace inequity 
  • Participatory models of learning (e.g., Youth-led Participatory Action Research)
  • Long-term projects that address disparity issues regarding access to technologies and resources (e.g., digital and pedagogical divide)
  • Applications of critical theory in learning design
  • Ethical and responsible (i.e., humanizing) concerns regarding the collection, analysis, and presentation of data and findings

Potential contributions will be evaluated first and foremost for their attention to specific social and political issues, such as: inequities in access and/or instruction based on race, culture, ethnicity, gender identity, etc.; power dynamics that create or sustain an environment of unequal opportunities or expectations; disparities in identifying/designing opportunities for learning based on race, culture, or dis/abilty. Examples of such work includes:

  • Asino, T., Giacumo, L., & Chen, V. (2017). Culture as a design “next”: Theoretical frameworks to guide new design, development, and research of learning environments, The Design Journal, 20(1), 875-885. 
  • Bradshaw, A. (2018). Reconsidering the instructional design and technology timeline through a lens of social justice. TechTrends, 62, 336-344.
  • Hackman, H. & Rauscher, L. (2004). A pathway to access for all: Exploring the connections between universal instructional design and social justice education, Equity & Excellence in Education, 37(2), 114-123.
  • Lawton, C., Kopcha, T., Walters, K., & Ocak, C. (2019). Digital, experiential, and embodied: Reckoning with the past in Putnam County, Georgia. ILCEA, 39,
  • Peters, D. J. T., & Giacumo, L. A. (2020). Ethical and Responsible Cross?Cultural Interviewing: Theory to Practice Guidance for Human Performance and Workplace Learning Professionals. Performance Improvement, 59(1), 26-34.  
  • Snow, K. (2016). Social justice or status quo? Blended learning in a Western Canadian teacher education program. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 42(3), 1-17.
  • Souto-Manning, M., & Rabadi-Raol, A. (2018). (Re)Centering quality in early childhood education: Toward intersectional justice for minoritized children. Review of Research in Education, 42(1), 203–225.
  • Vakil, S. (2018). Ethics, identity, and political vision: Toward a justice-centered approach to equity in computer science education. Harvard Educational Review., 88(1), 26-52.

In addition, we recognize that concepts like justice, equality, and change are complex and multifaceted. Issues of social justice tend to be intersectional in nature, meaning 

that understanding the relationship among the factors involved is often more important than isolating and studying any single factor on its own. We therefore seek contributions that acknowledge and uphold those complexities rather than isolating or addressing them in a reductive manner. We believe that doing so will help promote the unique and innovative nature of learning design and organizational systems changes in addressing what have become long-standing issues in learning, education, organizational performance improvement, and change. 

JAID Article Types

In line with JAID standards, submitted articles must fall under one of the following three types: 

  • Instructional Design Practice. This is an applied journal serving a practicing community. Our focus is on what practitioners are doing in authentic contexts and their observed results. These articles cover topics of broad concern to instructional design practitioners. The articles should represent issues of practical importance to working designers.
  • Research Studies on Applied Instructional Design. JAID is interested in publishing empirical studies exploring the application of instructional design principles in applied settings.  Quantitative and qualitative studies are welcome.
  • Instructional Design/Performance Design Position Papers. JAID also accepts position papers that attempt to bridge theory and practice.  Examples may include conceptual frameworks and new ideas facing the instructional design community.  The paper must also provide enough information to allow the replication of the innovation or continuation of the research in other settings.  Position papers must be based in the context of a theoretical framework.  Efficacy data is strongly preferred, but not always required, contingent upon the potential generalizability or value of the innovation.


Important Dates

Sept 1, 2020 Announce CFP

Oct 16, 2020 Interested authors should submit contact information and a brief abstract (500 words) for initial review. Information will be collected using a Google Form:

Nov 16, 2020 Invitation to submit full manuscript sent to authors

Jan 1, 2020 Deadline for submission of full manuscripts; peer review begins

April 1, 2021 Decisions on initially submitted papers sent to authors

June 1, 2021 Revised manuscripts due

July 1, 2021 Final decisions and feedback on revised manuscripts Aug 1, 2021 Final manuscripts due by authors

Sept-Oct, 2021 Publication in 2021 Special Issue

*Authors may contact the editorial team to discuss relevance and fit prior to submitting their initial paper. 


Submission Process

Please prepare submissions according to the JAID guidelines:


The Journal of Applied Instructional Design (JAID) is a peer-reviewed journal sponsored by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT).