Open Educational Resources

2016 National Report

Opening the Textbook: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2015-16

Opening the Textbook: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2015-16

Awareness of open educational resources (OER) among U.S. higher education teaching faculty has improved, but still remains less than a majority, according to a new report from the Babson Survey Research Group.

Survey results, using responses of over 3,000 faculty, show that OER status is not a driving force in the selection of educational materials – with the most cited barrier being the effort required to find and evaluate such materials. While use of open resources is low overall, it is somewhat higher among large enrollment introductory-level courses. Key findings from the report include:

  • Faculty awareness of OER has increased, with 25% of faculty reporting that they were “Aware” or “Very Aware” of open educational resources, up from 20% last year.
  • Only 5.3% of courses are using open textbooks (includes public domain and Creative Commons licensed).
  • Large enrollment introductory undergraduate courses have adopted openly licensed OpenStax College textbooks at twice the rate (10%) as openly licensed textbooks among all courses.
  • The most common factor cited by faculty when selecting educational resources was the cost to the students. After cost, the next most common was the comprehensiveness of the resource, followed by how easy it was to find.
  • There is a serious disconnect between how many faculty consider a factor in selecting educational resources and how satisfied they are with the state of that factor. Faculty are least satisfied with the cost of textbooks, yet that is the most commonly listed factor for why they select resources.
  • The barriers to adopting OER most often cited by faculty are that “there are not enough resources for my subject” (49%), it is “too hard to find what I need” (48%) and “there is no comprehensive catalog of resources” (45%).

Dr. Jeff Seaman, Co-Director of the Babson Survey Research Group, said, “While the overall use of OER for required course materials remains low, it is showing progress. The 10% adoption rate for textbooks from OpenStax College for large enrollment undergraduate courses is close to the average 17% adoption rate that an individual commercial text has in these same courses.”

“There is potential for growth for OER, as many faculty report that they are willing to try these resources. However, while faculty cite cost to the student more than any other factor in selecting educational materials, concerns about the time and effort it takes to find and evaluate these materials remains a significant barrier to wider adoption.”

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Previous reports

Detailed State Examination

Opening Public Institutions: OER in North Dakota and the Nation, 2015

Opening Public Institutions: OER in North Dakota and the Nation, 2015

North Dakota University System faculty are just beginning to understand the potential for open educational resources. The Open Educational Resources Initiative in North Dakota is the result of a 2013 Legislative interest urging the North Dakota University System (NDUS) to reduce the cost of textbooks estimated to be $1,100 per year per student. The idea is now becoming a reality with the launch of a statewide initiative.

This study is a statewide replication of the Babson Survey Research Group national investigation of OER adoption and will be used as a benchmark, against which future advances will be measured. The North Dakota results, based on responses from faculty at the 11 NDUS campuses, are compared with those from the national sample of faculty members.

Opening Public Institutions: OER in North Dakota and the Nation, 2015 (pdf)

2014 National Report

Opening the Curriculum: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2014

Opening the Curriculum: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2014

This report, funded by a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation with additional support from Pearson, examines the attitudes, opinions, and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) among teaching faculty in U.S. higher education.

2012 National Report

Growing the Curriculum: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2012

Growing the Curriculum: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education

This 2012 report, funded by a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation with additional support from Pearson, examines the role of Open Educational Resources in higher education. As part of the ongoing Babson Survey Research Group’s online learning reports, we have asked institutional academic leaders questions on their knowledge, use and opinion of OER as part of the 2009 - 2011 surveys. In addition, BSRG conducted surveys asking faculty in higher education and academic technology administrators their opinions of these resources. Our survey of faculty on their use of social media also asked for faculty opinions on OER. This report uses data from all of these sources.