The University System of Georgia (USG) announced the following results from their Summer and Fall 2013 use of an open textbook for US History:
“The first USG Open Textbook was made for the core curriculum US History I course and implemented in eCore in Summer and Fall 2013.
- In Spring 2013, prior to open text implementation: 88% HIST 2111 retention rate.
- In Summer 2013, the first semester with the Open Textbook, retention increased to 94%.
- Successful completion (grades A, B, and C) rose from 56% in the spring to 84% in the summer with the open textbook.
–Retention is the measure of non-withdrawals (grades A,B,C,D,F)
–Successful course completion is the measure of grades A, B, and C. Non-successful course completion is the measure of grades D, F, W, and WF.”
Source: Slide 11 on http://slidegur.com/doc/353707/retention-and-completion-with-oer-implementation
Opening the Curriculum, a report examining the attitudes, opinions and use of OER among teaching faculty in U.S. higher education, published by Babson Survey Research Group in 2014, found that 85.7% of respondents rated OER superior to traditional resources on cost. However, as a Social Sciences Faculty member points out:
Increasing concern about the cost of course materials makes OER a more attractive option. I find that more and more ‘traditional’ resources are also available for free on the Internet so I’m not sure the difference between the two forms is as significant as it might seem.” (p. 23)
In 2014 Babson Survey Research Group published Opening the Curriculum, a report examining the attitudes, opinions and use of OER among teaching faculty in U.S. higher education. In relation to faculty members’ awareness of open licensing, they found that:
Most faculty report that they are aware of copyright licensing of classroom content (77.6% “Very aware” or “Aware”) and public domain licensing (67.9% “Very aware” or “Aware”) but fall short on awareness of Creative Commons licensing. Less than two-thirds of faculty report that they are at least somewhat aware of Creative Commons licensing, with the remaining one-third saying that they are unaware”. (p. 16)
In 2014 Babson Survey Research Group published Opening the Curriculum, a report examining the attitudes, opinions and use of OER among teaching faculty in U.S. higher education. One of the key findings highlights the disparity between lack of awareness of OER and actual use of OER:
More faculty are using OER than report that they were aware of the term OER. Resource adoption decisions are driven by a wide variety of factors, with the efficacy of the material being cited most often. These decisions are often made without any awareness of the specific licensing of the material, or its OER status.” (p.2)
The report Engaged learning in MOOCs: a study using the UK Engagement Survey (UKES) published by the Higher Education Academy found that learners on two MOOC at The University of Southampton reported a higher proportion of students declaring a disability than national averages for higher education. This supports the idea that open education may be more accessible for students with disability. From p.22 of the report:
The generic survey reflects a lower proportion than the UKES of participants describing themselves as disabled. The latter reflects both the UK norm (16%)23 and the European average of one-sixth of working age people. Given that 20% of UKES participants are over 65 years of age, when disability increases to 45% of the UK population, this overall proportion seems low. Dyslexia alone is estimated to affect 10% of the population. However compared with disabled students in higher education, the proportions are relatively high. HESA (2013) found only 7% of students to be in receipt of disabled students’ allowance (DSA). Many disabled students do not register for or qualify for DSA, but even in terms of self-reporting only 8% report a disability on application.
However, this should be tempered by the fact that “the demographic profiles of learners resemble other MOOC cohorts; that is, an older and well-educated majority, with many working in education” (p.41).
At the MOOC Research Conference, December 5-6, 2013 in Texas, Arlington, Deborah Keyek-Franssen, associate vice president for digital education and engagement at the University of Colorado System outlined some of the results from MOOC pilots:
“I don’t see revenue, and we’re not going to see revenue in Colorado for … ever — or for a long time,” Keyek-Franssen said. “We are not ready for Signature Track…. We’re not ready for credit…. We will probably not license anyone else’s content.”
The university system has experimented with MOOCs through Canvas and Coursera, but the results have yet to provide a definite answer.
“What I’ve been trying to is reframe the question,” Keyek-Franssen said. “The question is: Is it worth it? Is it worth it to the faculty? Is it worth it the financial investment? Is it worth it to restructure our support units to be able to provide significant among of expertise that we currently don’t have in-house?”
Keyek-Franssen wasn’t asking the questions rhetorically. “For us, we’ll continue to do them because there are so many enthusiastic faculty members,” she said. “But we don’t have that [return on investment] piece, and without that, you can’t convince leadership or financial planners.”
The HEA/NUS Study Students‟ views on learning methods and Open Educational Resources in higher education found evidence to support the view that availability of OER can help attract students to an institution.
A majority of both traditional and non-traditional students expected the use of OERs to increase during the rest of their course, approximately a fifth in each case thought it would increase “a lot”. Non-traditional learners were more likely to have accessed OERs from their university prior to starting their courses. In some cases, accessing OERs prior to starting had a strong, positive impact on their decision of where to study – this was more the case for non-traditional students than traditional. This finding suggests that pre-course availability of OERs could help to attract students to an institution.
The HEA/NUS Study Students‟ views on learning methods and Open Educational Resources in higher education found that learners use a variety of methods to find and evaluate OER.
Students reported that they found out about OERs through a variety of means. There were some interesting differences between the traditional and non-traditional student groups, with non-traditional students more likely to be informed about OERs via the virtual learning environment (VLE) or website. Focus groups with traditional students revealed that many looked first to their lecturers to signpost OERs. There was also a sense that using OERs required different skills from those for using more traditional learning resources, so if universities were going to promote greater OER usage, there
was a need to ensure that all students were equipped with the necessary skills.
Students recognised that being able to search for resources was an important skill in order to succeed on their course. A number talked about how their knowledge of where and how to find relevant resources improved as they progressed through their course and they became more confident and knowledgeable
In general, however, many said they were overwhelmed by the quantity of results obtained when they searched on Google. Google Scholar was felt to be easy to use and produced relevant results, but was frequently frustrating when the resources identified were only available via subscription. Using library databases also presented problems as students were unsure which databases to use and struggled to understand how best to search various databases.