Freeing the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2018 | MIT J-WEL

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Freeing the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2018

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Babson Survey Research Group


Babson College

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The 2017-2018 survey on teaching materials in U.S. higher education shows a steady growth in awareness of open educational resources (OER). Responses from over 4,000 faculty and department chairpersons paint a picture of steady improvement, with almost 50% of faculty now reporting OER awareness.

The study also shows multiple factors are in place to support rapid future increases in awareness and use of OER:

  • Faculty and department chairpersons believe that the high cost of course material has a negative impact on student access.
  • The 5Rs that underpin OER (Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute) are a perfect match to the extensive use of 'revise' and 'remix' that faculty are already practicing.
  • Faculty members express considerable resentment towards commercial publishers over price and unnecessarily frequent updates, among other issues.
  • Faculty report a growing acceptance (or even preference) for digital materials.
  • The 'open' aspect of OER resonates with faculty; they see it as an excellent match to academic principles.

These results could signal a turning point for OER, with potentially faster levels of growth to come. However, the study results also show that many of the factors that have prevented rapid growth still remain. Overall awareness of OER is at about 46 percent, so while most faculty have real concerns about the cost of course materials and use textbooks in a manner that is best supported by OER, slightly more than half remain unaware of the OER alternative. Institutional level initiatives to educate faculty about OER are limited, and faculty have been left to find their own solutions to the high cost of materials.

Topics: Open Educational Practices

Licensing Information: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0