OERRH OER Evidence Report 2013-2014

de los Arcos, B., Farrow, R., Perryman, L.-A., Pitt, R. & Weller, M., OER Research Hub, Nov 19, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The OER Research Hub has published what it calls the 'OER Evidence Repoirt' for 2013-14 (36 page PDF). The report summarizes targeted research "combining surveys, interviews, focus groups and data analytics." While we see some expected results, like discussions on the use of open educational resources (OERs) ("OER repositories remain relatively unused and unknown compared with the main three educational resource sites of YouTube, Khan Academy and TED") other hypotheses tested seem like a bit of a stretch ("The two main hypotheses under investigation were (A) that OER improves student performance; and (B) that openly licenced material is used differently to other online material"). The best evidence is saved for last: "There is strong evidence for savings with Open Textbooks that are used to replace compulsory set texts."

For a more narrowly focused report on OERs viewed specifically from a U.S. context, see the Babson Report. (52 page PDF) See Michael Feldstein on this item: "the best way to view this report is not to look for earth-shaking findings or to be disappointed if there are no surprises, but rather to see data-backed answers on the teaching resource adoption process." That said, I still think the most significant decisions about adoption and use of OERs are not made by faculty, but by students. Of course you'll never discover this when you survey faculty only, as this report does.

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