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Students favored OERs and would enroll in OER course

OERs met most student needs despite concerns with relevancy

February 12, 2021 9:34 AM

Post by Susan Biro, Acting Manager of Online Learning, DoIT

In a survey of more than 900 students from fall 2020 who completed courses that utilized no-cost or low-cost Open Educational Resources (OER), UMBC students said they appreciated saving money on instructional materials and would recommend an OER course to others.

Nearly 90% of students said the quality of the OER course materials was of similar or higher quality than non-OER course materials. In the surveyed courses, faculty replaced traditional print textbooks with OERs and provided supplemental digital homework tools. Forty-five percent of students who completed the survey said they would be fairly likely or very likely to enroll in an OER course again, while 53% said they would recommend an OER course to others.

Instructors Sarah Bass (CHEM 101), Tara Carpenter (CHEM 102), and Maria Manni (SPAN 101/103) replaced traditional print textbooks with OERs and provided supplemental digital homework tools. 

Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium (digital or otherwise) that are released under an open license that permits no-cost or low-cost access, use, adaptation, or redistribution (UNESCO, 2002). OER can include textbooks, syllabi, supplementary materials, quizzes, assessment rubrics, homework, or labs.

About 60 comments were provided about students' experience with OERs. The majority of written feedback focused on positive engagement with the digital resources and homework tools that supported students' ability to practice problems or equations and learn vocabulary. 

Students offered additional comments about how they would use money saved from OER toward paying tuition or other fees (64%), covering personal expenses (55%), buying textbooks or materials for other classes (46%), or taking an additional course (19%). Some expressed challenges with the materials themselves, such as relevance to course content, impact on learning style, or ability to annotate online content vs. printed material. 

Additional observations: 

  • 61% of students reported spending between $51 - $150 on textbooks or other course materials in a typical semester. 
  • 55% of students said they usually purchase online or digital textbooks. 
  • 80% of students reported having fairly reliable or extremely reliable internet access, with 19% reporting neutral or somewhat reliable access. 

A total of 551 students completed the survey from the 917 invited to participate. The survey was distributed to students using Blackboard's native Enterprise Survey tool. 

Explore how you can adopt OERs for your course:

Attend upcoming virtual events:

Contact OER co-chairs Erin Durham (edurham@umbc.edu) or Susan Biro (sbiro@umbc.edu) for more information on OER at UMBC.

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