Substituting open educational resources (OER) for commercially-produced textbooks results in demonstrable cost savings for students in most higher education institutions. Yet OER are still not widely used, and progress toward large-scale adoption in most colleges and universities has been slow. This article reviews the literature informing financial and other issues that affect OER adoption. It describes the outcome of an ongoing, financially self-sustaining project at Athabasca University that has produced significant cost savings for the institution, maintained equivalent student learning outcomes and persistence rates, and enhanced aspects of the student learning experience. Based on the success of the project to date, broadly-applicable recommendations are suggested to reduce organizational impediments to the adoption of OER in higher education institutions.
Limited research has been done to date on the extent of public funding of Open Educational Resources (OER) within basic education (K-12 equivalent) in South Africa. As claims have been made about the potential cost reductions that come with using OER, this study aimed to establish a benchmark of public spending on educational resources, uncover how much is being spent on OER and assess cost-savings of OER adoption. A desk review and document analysis of official information sources on South African basic education was conducted to develop a conceptual understanding of funding allocations the South African government uses for educational resources. A review of publicly available government reports and budgets showed that there is insufficient information at this time to determine how much is being spent on OER specifically or to act as a benchmark for potential cost savings of OER. This study highlights the information gaps which would need to be filled in order to make claims about OER and their potential as cost savers.
Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) is Utah’s largest open enrollment college, and as an institution, is concerned about the expense associated with attaining a degree. All students face challenges in paying for their education, but SLCC students tend to have fewer resources to dedicate to school than students at other institutions in the state. While faculty and administrators have little control over the rising cost of tuition, they are able to offer students open educational resources (OER) to cut down on textbook costs. Salt Lake Community College’s OER initiative was implemented in Summer 2014, and has since expanded to include 125 sections in Spring 2016. We examine OER’s impact on three measures of student success: course grade, likelihood of passing, and likelihood of withdrawing. We use a multilevel modeling (MLM) approach in order to control for student, instructor, and course effects, and found no difference between courses using OER and traditional textbooks for continuing students. For new students, there is evidence that OER increases average grade. However, student-level differences such as demographic background and educational experience have a far greater impact on course grade and likelihood of passing or withdrawing than an instructor’s use of an OER text. Future research should focus on longer-term impacts of OER on retention, completion, and transfer.
It is estimated that the average student spends around 1200 USD on books and supplies every school year; thus, textbook affordability has become more and more of a challenge for students. Replacing traditionally expensive learning resources with open educational resources (OER) can have a great impact in the reduction of cost for post-secondary education and student learning. With these benefits as a backdrop, this article describes a case study in which one college instructor adopted OER for College Algebra, offered as a hybrid learning model. This paper discusses this experience with adopting such materials and their impact on student success.
This article explores the relationship between open educational resources (OER) created by students for use by other students, the long-term sustainability of the movement toward OER, and the success of students who use OER created by other students as part of their core curricular materials. We begin by providing definitions and a broader context for thinking about the possibility of student-created OER. We then describe a course context in which student-created OER have been slowly integrated into an online class over several years and examine the impact on student learning associated with their introduction.
Khan Academy is a large and popular open educational resource (OER) with little empirical study into its impact on student achievement in mathematics when used in schools. In this study, we examined the use of Khan Academy as a mathematics intervention among seventh grade students over a 4-week period versus a control group. We also compared differences between students who had supplemental mathematics instruction and those who had not. In both cases, we found no statistically significant differences in student test scores. Khan Academy has several internal metrics used to track student performance and use. We found significant relationships between these metrics and student test scores in this study. Khan Academy and other OER provide access to information and knowledge to large numbers of the population. This research adds to the discourse methods by which Khan Academy and other OER may affect learners.
Assigning open textbooks in college and university courses can help students save money on increasingly expensive commercial textbooks, and recent research shows that this savings can often be achieved with little to no sacrifice in textbook quality or student learning outcomes. We add to this body of research by examining the use of an open textbook in an introductory physics course at a large research university in Canada that enrols approximately 800-900 students per year. In this course, the instructors revised an open textbook and combined it with other learning resources onto a single website, whereas more than one source of learning materials was used previously. We used the COUP framework to structure our analysis, focusing on cost, outcomes, use, and perceptions in relation to the open textbook assigned in the course. Through the use of a survey of students and data about student learning outcomes in the form of final exam and course grades, and shifts on the pre-/post- Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey, we show that student savings by moving to an open textbook were accompanied by little change in learning outcomes. We also show that the vast majority of survey respondents perceived the open textbook to be of the same or better quality than commercial textbooks used in their other courses. Further, many of them appreciated the fact that the textbook was customized to this particular course—which is made possible by the use of a textbook with an open license.
As freely adoptable digital resources, OpenCourseWare (OCW) have become a prominent form of Open Educational Resources (OER). More than 275 institutions in the worldwide OCW consortium have committed to creating free access open course materials. Despite the resources and efforts to create OCW worldwide, little understanding of its use exists. This paper reports OCW project development at National Taiwan University (NTU) and investigates its use with Google Analytics. Reports include strategic plans to overcome challenges to OCW creation and implementation, the project’s growth and maturation, overall use of OCW, and possible future directions. As a result of its 5-year development and of lessons learned, the NTU-OCW experience features: (1) integrating resources on campus and established operating procedures, (2) setting course selection criteria featuring the strength of NTU and Taiwan, (3) providing coherent program support to enhance faculty participation, and (4) adhering strictly to the Creative Commons license. Data from Google Analytics was reviewed for better understanding of the use, characteristics, course preferences, and behaviors of NTU-OCW users. Results show visitors were primarily lifelong learners (65%) in informal learning settings. Statistics indicate an overall successful use of NTU-OCW for Chinese speaking users, especially in urban areas where information and communication technology is more developed. Potential impacts and future improvements are discussed, including how to promote usage of OCW courses for on and off campus users, adding rating features and indexing for customizing search, and integrating OCW into the learning management system (LMS) as part of OER.
The high cost of tuition and textbooks can have a negative impact on potential students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Open Educational Resources (OER) offers students a way to save educational costs while utilizing high-quality open textbooks. Up until now, there have been few studies focused on a specific provider of open textbooks. This study investigates open textbooks provided by OpenStax. Specifically, this study uses the COUP framework to examine: (1) cost reduction, (2) outcomes, (3) uses, and (4) the faculty perceptions of the quality of OpenStax textbooks. Additionally, we expanded the framework to address (5) the relationship between the perceived quality of the OpenStax textbook and the faculty perception of student performance, (6) the faculty’s intention to continue to adopt OpenStax textbooks, and (7) the perceived importance of accessibility to faculty who use OpenStax textbooks. Overall, the findings suggest that a significant amount of financial savings and a number of pedagogical shifts can be supported by the use of OpenStax textbooks.
Using data collected from peer reviews for Open Textbook Library titles, this paper explores questions about rating the quality of open textbooks. The five research questions addressed the relationship between textbook and reviewer characteristics and ratings. Although reviewers gave textbooks high ratings generally, reviewers identified differences in quality according to criteria and discipline. Physics and chemistry textbooks earned significantly lower ratings than other textbook types. Ratings were not significantly associated with reviewers’ status and experience, but were associated with reviewers’ place of residence. We discuss the implications for OER efficacy studies and other research.
This article reports findings from a study conducted with students in three sections of a Health Psychology course that replaced a traditional textbook with open educational resources (OER) as the primary course material. The purpose of the study was to learn how OER impacted students. Data were collected in Fall 2015 with students from New York City College of Technology (City Tech), of the City University of New York (CUNY), a comprehensive college located in Brooklyn. Students were assigned the OER by their course instructor, who developed it as part of a library funded OER pilot initiative. Two research instruments were employed: one-on-one interviews and short surveys. Both interview and survey items asked students about how they engaged with the OER as their primary assigned course material. They shared feedback about the overall organization of the OER, ease of use, methods used to access the OER and complete coursework, benefits and challenges, and differences and similarities to using a traditional print textbook. Findings indicate that most students were able to access the OER more easily than traditional textbooks and responded positively to the variety of learning materials and assignments the OER assembled. Most students reported that course readings were equal to or better than traditional textbooks and would be willing to register for a course offering a similar resource in the future. A small amount of students reported minor usability issues. Also, few students had difficulties obtaining technology necessary to access the OER.
Research indicates that students find open educational resources (OER) favorable, but there is no research regarding students’ perceptions of faculty who use open textbooks. In the present study we examined this topic experimentally with two undergraduate psychology courses at a small public university. Participants read two passages—one about an instructor using an open textbook and another using a traditional copyrighted textbook—and rated each instructor on a range of characteristics through closed- and open-ended questions. Participants rated faculty using an open textbook higher on kindness, encouragement, and creativity than faculty using a traditional copyrighted textbook, and were more likely to want to take a class with faculty using an open textbook. Participants frequently mentioned textbook cost in their justifications.
Unrelenting increases in the price of college textbooks have prompted the development and adoption of open textbooks, educational resources that are openly licensed and available to students free of cost. Although several studies have investigated U.S. students’ perceptions and use of open textbooks, there are no published studies of this kind in Canada. Similarly, although the negative impact of commercial textbook costs on student outcomes is well documented within the United States, it is unknown whether these trends generalize to the Canadian post-secondary context. The present study involves a survey of 320 post-secondary students in British Columbia enrolled in courses using an open textbook during the Spring 2015, Summer 2015, and Fall 2015 semesters. The survey investigates students’ textbook purchasing behaviours, including whether, where, and in what format(s) they purchase and access their required textbooks; the negative impact of textbook costs on their course enrolment, persistence, and performance; how they access and use their open textbook, including their format preferences and study habits; and their perceptions of their open textbook, including its quality and what features they like and dislike. The study’s strengths and limitations are discussed, along with recommendations for future research.
Since 2005, open educational resources (OER) have played a key role in K-12 education in South Korea; so far, however, there has been little discussion about OER efficacy in South Korean K-12 education. In the meantime, South Korean education has been attracting a lot of interest around the world. Former U.S. President Obama’s comments about South Korean education might also be caused by South Korean students’ academic performance evaluated by international large-scale assessments such as the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). This article uses an ethnographic perspective to explore the experiences of teachers and students in the Korean context. The analysis of the findings shows how teachers adopt and adapt OER for their 12th grade (the final year of secondary school) Korean language arts classes. Through classroom observations, interviews, and questionnaires, this exploration revealed that nearly 92% of the students perceived OER as beneficial to their studies and that teachers were spurred on to orchestrate differentiated instructional plans by OER. We argue that there is significant value to using OER in the formal educational curriculum, but that a lack of knowledge of how to adapt OER restricts how their potential is realized in practice. We identify implications for maximizing OER adaptation and successful usage of OER in K-12 education.
This note from the field reviews the sustainability of an institution-wide program for adopting and adapting open and alternative educational resources (OAER) at Kansas State University (K-State). Developed in consult of open textbook initiatives at other institutions and modified around the needs and expectations of K-State students and faculty, this initiative proposes a sustainable means of incentivizing faculty participation via institutional support, encouraging the creation and maintenance of OAER through recurring funding, promoting innovative realizations of “educational resources” beyond traditional textbooks, and rallying faculty participation in adopting increasingly open textbook alternatives. The history and resulting structure of the initiative raise certain recommendations for how public universities may sustainably offset student textbook costs while also empowering the pedagogies of educators via a more methodical approach to adopting open materials.
Open Educational Resources (OER) are gaining acceptance as legitimate and effective teaching materials in higher education, particularly in 2-year institutions. Despite the steady growth in the availability and use of OER, there have been relatively few studies on the efficacy of OER and student achievement. This study analyzed the effect enrollment in an OER course had on student academic achievement when controlling for prior academic achievement in an introductory online history course at a large community college. Correlation analysis and simple linear regression were conducted. The results of this research indicate a significant positive moderate correlation between OER and student achievement. The study provided a process by which future, more rigorous efficacy studies can be conducted.