Faculty aren’t using OER—here’s why

New report reveals issues of definition, copyright, and ease of use are stalling widespread adoption

OER-faculty-reportFaculty across institutions aren’t using OER—and the few who are often don’t know it, says a new industry report; leading to concerns about definition and copyright understanding.

This data comes from a new Babson Survey Research report that aimed to determine whether or not faculty (who chief academic officers, and faculty themselves, say are the main adopters of classroom materials) are using OER.

After surveying a national sample of over 2,000 faculty members, the report highlights that 75 percent of faculty are unaware of OER. It also revealed that, if it were up to faculty, they’d be 67 percent unaware.

That’s because many faculty who think they know OER don’t provide the right explanation of what OER is via open-form questions.

And that’s not the only fascinating tidbit: According to the report, while only about 33 percent of faculty claim to be aware of OER, nearly 50 percent report that they use OER. There are even some faculty who said that they were “not at all aware of OER” who report that they have used it…once the concept is explained for them.

The cause for these seemingly perplexing findings is a general confusion among faculty (and institutions overall) as to what defines OER and the copyright uses attached to OER.

“There appears to be two causes [of the confusion],” say the report’s authors, Elaine Allen, professor of Biostatistics & Epidemiology at the University of California San Francisco, and Jeff Seaman of the Babson Survey Group: “the lack of faculty understanding of the term ‘Open Educational Resources,’ and the fact that faculty often make resource choices without any consideration to the licensing of that resource.”

(Next page: Understanding barriers to OER adoption)