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Dr Donna Smith

Profile summary

Web links

Professional biography


BA (Hons) Film and English Studies

MA Politics

PhD Politics and Media

Postgraduate Certificate in Online and Distance Education

Certificate in Management (Level 5)

Research interests

Politics and media, media regulation, teaching and learning.

Smith, D., and Smith, K., 2021. Tuition attendance and students with mental health disability: does widening tuition options increase access? Journal of Open Learning (in press).

Smith, D., and Smith, K., 2021. Tuition attendance and students with mental health disability: does widening tuition options increase access?’. Access, Participation and Success 6th International Biennial Conference.

Smith, D. 2020. The Covid-19 crisis and academic development: reflections on running a staff development webinar series for Politics/IR academics. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Perspectives in Higher Education, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.130-135.

Smith, D., and Smith, K., 2020. Understanding student engagement with synchronous and asynchronous online tuition and recordings. International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (Seville).

Smith, D., 2020. Understanding the influence of demographics on attendance and access of synchronous and asynchronous online tuition. Pan-University Scholarship Event (The Open University).

Smith, D., 2019. Personal liberation: how ideas free people and change social realities. Modern Political Ideas (DD316), Block 4 VLE [online]. Milton Keynes: The Open University.

Smith, D., 2019. Personal liberation: the long road from gay rights to same-sex marriage in the UK and US. In DD316 module team [eds]. Modern Political Ideas [DD316 reader]. Milton Keynes: The Open University.

Smith, D., and Smith, K., 2019. Understanding barriers to participation in online tuition. Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference: ‘Teaching in the spotlight: Innovation for Teaching Excellence’.

Smith, D., and Blakeley, G., 2019. Teaching political ideas at an online and distance university - an interactive workshop. Poltical Studies Association International Teaching and Learning Conference.

Smith, D., and Manning, R., 2018.  Creating spaces for learning: online forums. In Baxter, J. et al [eds]. Creativity and critique in online learning: exploring and examining innovations in online pedagogy. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Smith, D., and Robson, J., 2018. Recording online tutorials: a consideration of the issues. Widening Participation Conference.

Smith, D., 2017. Participation in online/distance undergraduate politics module forums at The Open University and implications for teaching and learning strategy 2. Political Studies Association Annual Conference – Teaching and Learning Group Panel.

Smith, D., 2016. Looking behind the headlines: participation in assessed collaborative forums and implications for assessment. International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (Seville).

Smith, D., 2016. Participation in online/distance undergraduate politics module forums at The Open University and implications for teaching and learning strategy. Political Studies Association Annual Conference – Teaching and Learning Group Panel.

Smith, D., and Smith, K., 2015. Understanding Passive Learning in Online Distance Education. International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (Seville).

Smith, D., and Smith, K., 2014. The Case for 'Passive' Learning – The 'Silent' Community of Online Learners. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp.85-98.

Smith, D., 2014. Review of ‘The same-sex unions revolution in Western democracies: International norms and domestic policy change’. Political Quarterly, Issue 85, Volume 2, pp.236-238.

Smith, D., and Middleton, D., 2013. 'It needs to be better than face to face': Introducing Elluminate into a social sciences distance learning programme. Enhancing Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.3-14.

Smith, D., and Smith, K., 2013. Fifty shades of forums: the trouble with fantasy and dominance in asynchronous teaching and learning. UNISA Cambridge International Conference on Open, Distance and eLearning (University of South Africa).

Knightly, M., and Smith, D., 2013. Different or Difficult? Collaborative Online Learning in Psychology. BPS Qualitative Methods Conference.

Smith, D., 2012 (hardback), 2013 (paperback). Sex, Lies and Politics: Gay Politicians in the Press. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press.

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Teaching interests

Senior Lecturer and Staff Tutor in Politics, and FASS Deputy Associate Dean Teaching and Students.

I am currently a member of the module team for DD313 (International Relations), and two modules in production: the new interdisciplinary/POLIS Level 1 module (DD113) and the new masters in IR. I am also Chair of the new media and politics short course, 'Media, Politics, and Society' (ADXS001), a partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI).

Previously, I was a member of the Module Team for The uses of social science (DD206), Living political ideas (DD306), and Modern Political Ideas, production and presentation (DD316).

I am also leading the OU's partnership with UK Parliament Week, part of the POLIS 'Open Politics' initiative which I devised. More info here (internal:; external:

Previously Senior Faculty Manager (2010-2019), Tuition Delivery Lead (2015-2019), Scholarship Lead (2019-2020 and 2014-2016), and Deputy Chair of the Social Sciences Programme Team (2015-2016). I was also an Associate Lecturer for many years, teaching Living political ideas (DD306), The uses of social science (DD206), and various Level 1 social sciences modules.

Member of editorial board/article reviewer for the following journals: Higher Education Studies (board/reviewer), Journal of Education and Training Studies (board/reviewer), Journal of Open Learning (reviewer), European Political Science (reviewer).

Higher Education Academy/APPLAUD (previously OpenPAD) assessor and panel member.

Impact and engagement

Higher Education Academy (HEA) – Senior Fellow
Chartered Management Institute (CMI) – Chartered Member (CMgr MCMI)
Political Studies Association (PSA):
  • Currently:
    • Teaching and Learning Network - Co-Chair
  • Previously:
    • Trustee, Director and Executive Committee member
    • Publications Committee - trustee member and Co-Chair Publications Strategy 
    • Teaching and Learning Committee - trustee member
    • Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Working Group - committee member
    • Teaching and Learning Specialist Group - Co-Convenor


The Changing Representation of Gay Politicians in the UK Press (2009)
Smith, Donna Louise
PhD thesis The Open University