Does your faculty actually know what OER are?

A survey gauges higher-ed faculty's awareness of OER and their use in courses

Open educational resources (OER) are not quite the driving force that some advocates might believe, due in large part to the effort required to locate and evaluate them, according to a study of more than 3,000 U.S. faculty.

The study, Opening the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, attempts to discern the process faculty use to select educational materials used in their courses, and it focuses in part on OER awareness and use.

Though overall OER use is low overall, its use does increase somewhat for introductory-level courses with larger enrollments.

Only 5.3 percent of courses included in the study use an openly-licensed required textbook, though openly-licensed OpenStax College textbooks are adopted at twice that rate–10 percent–for large enrollment introductory ungraduate courses.

While faculty awareness of OER has increased over the past year, it still remains low–just 6.6 percent of faculty said they were “very aware” of such resources, with 18.9 percent saying they were “aware” and 16.5 percent saying they were “somewhat aware.”

Faculty awareness of open textbooks, classified as a specific type of OER in the study, was a bit lower than awareness–just 34 percent of faculty claimed some level of awareness.

(Next page: Faculty awareness and barriers to adoption)

Laura Ascione