New Babson College Survey Research Group Report: OER Growing Albeit Slowly!

Dear Commons Community,

The Babson College Survey Research Group released a new report (Opening the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2017 indicating that the number of faculty replacing the traditional textbook with an openly licensed one (OER) is increasing.  As reported at the Babson College Survey website.

“Responses from over 2,700 U.S. faculty paint both a “Good news” and a “Bad news” picture for the role of open educational resources (OER) in U.S. higher education. The levels of awareness of OER, the licensing tied to it, and overall adoption of OER materials, remains low. Only 10% of faculty reported that they were “Very aware” of open educational resources, with 20% saying that they were “Aware.” Faculty continue to report significant barriers to OER adoption. The most serious issues continue to be the effort needed to find and evaluate suitable material.

There is also considerable cause for optimism among those who support OER. The awareness and adoption levels may be low, but they also show steady year-to-year improvements. OER also addresses a key concern of many faculty: the cost of materials.”

An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education commented that:

“Opening the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2017… is the third such survey produced by the Babson Survey Research Group in recent years.

Over that time the share of faculty members adopting open-licensed textbooks rose from 5 percent in 2015 to 9 percent today, with a higher rate of use in large introductory-level classes. Familiarity with openly licensed materials is also growing: About 30 percent of respondents said they were aware or very aware of open educational resources. And nearly 90 percent of faculty members said that cost to the student was a key factor in how they select required course material.

Jeff Seaman, co-director of the group and co-author of the report, describes the findings as “one of those glass half-empty, half-full kind of things.” On the one hand, it’s clear that open educational resources are here to stay. The conversation, he says, has shifted from “what is this?” to “how do we make this sustainable?” The problem, he says, is that people haven’t yet figured that out.

About half of the faculty members surveyed, for example, said that there are not enough open educational resources for their subject and that it is difficult to find what they need. About 30 percent said they have concerns about quality and about how to update the material.”

The growth in OER will continue in the coming years.  Given the costs of higher education, colleges and universities will encourage savings in all of its operations including textbooks.  Congratulations to our colleague, Jeff Seaman, for this report and for continuing to provide insights into the use of online technology for instruction.



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