Dr Kara Johnson is Head of Department and Lecturer at the Open University Law School.
Kara joined the OU in 2020 with extensive experience of strategic academic leadership and online education. Previously, she had been Head of the School of Law and Criminology at Arden University and Senior Lecturer and Award Director at Staffordshire University. Kara holds an LLB in Law, French and German from Keele University, an LLM in Commercial Law from Staffordshire University and has completed a Doctorate in Education at Wolverhampton University. Kara's work in education has predominantly been with adults entering HE through non-traditional routes. Her doctorate focuses on the liminal experiences of part-time adult learners as they embark on undergraduate online study and also explores how innovative online research tools can give educator-researchers new insights into participant stories.
Kara has also acted as a higher education consultant in digital learning, working with HEIs on embedding academic skills across the online curriculum, digital pedagogies, onboarding and innovation in online assessment. Her consultancy work has involved her in advising several institutions including the universities of Liverpool, Derby, Roehampton, and East London
Kara is a Senior Fellow of Advance HE and sits on the Law Society's Digital Education Task Force, She also works as a Reviewer for the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme and an External Examiner for the Universities of Plymouth and Cardiff.
Kara's research cuts across the disciplines of Education and Law focusing on how concepts of liminality and transformative education can provide educator-researchers with a better insight into the experiences of part time, adult learners. Future research directions will be to consider how digital pedagogies and hybrid spaces can be further utilised in the development of professional legal skills as well as further exploring professional identity and a sense of belonging amongst online law students. Kara’s work utilises online research methods to support empirical qualitative enquiry.
Kara's teaching areas include:
Kara works with a team of European legal academics on the on the European Distance Education in Law Network - a group of four European distance and open universities collaborating on projects for the internationalisation of legal education through student-centred blended-learning projects. The impact of this work has been the joint development and implementation of: an online course in empirical legal research supported by a hybrid intensive study programme for PhD students that offers training in legal research skills and a staff DAAD-IVAC EDELNet+ PhD Training Programme in Research Methods and Skills.
Beginning, becoming and belonging: using liminal spaces to explore how part-time adult learners negotiate emergent identities when embarking on undergraduate online study (2022-07)
Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 24(2) (pp. 7-29)