Is OER Moving into the Mainstream?

Published by Carrie O'Donnell
on Nov 20, 2019

I recently attended the #OpenEd2019 conference looking for clarity on this question. You can see from the data in the infographic below that the use and acceptance of OER is increasing. Additionally, faculty resentment towards commercial publishers continues to grow, creating a more open environment for faculty awareness and acceptance of OER.

At the conference, I listened carefully to the experiences and opinions of experts around the country, and here is what I learned:

  • Most states and many institutions are promoting initiatives to increase affordability; OER is a big part of these initiatives.

  • The use of OER, while growing, is still niche, and mostly evolves around open textbooks. As long as the ecosystem relies on one primary provider, OpenStax, it will be difficult to move beyond niche.

  • There is a belief that publishers have co-opted the “affordability” conversation, at least for now, with their inclusive access programs, and that this interferes with the advancement of OER.

  • Many states and large institutions are making investments to advance OER and, no surprise, greater financial investment tends to yield greater OER usage.

  • Cross-institutional collaborations are helping to drive acceptance and usage, particularly in the states that have made OER a priority.

Increasing access to affordable and open resources is important even though the path for moving from niche to mainstream isn’t straight; yet. The leading states are forging a path and creating best practices that will help to pave the way. At our company, we are committed to engaging in cross-institutional collaborations and to increasing access to viable providers and viable content beyond OpenStax. We will be doing some of this in our partnership with PanOpen and others in our partnerships with institutions and state systems. I hope that when we next provide an infographic, like this one, we will have moved beyond niche and more into the mainstream.


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