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Friday, November 4 • 3:15pm - 3:40pm
OER scholarship in review: The thematic past and possible future of OER research

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"Open" has received increased attention and investment from educators over the past decade. One such investment has led to the proliferation of open educational resources (OER). Generally, open educational resources are considered to be, "teaching and learning materials that provide users with (1) free and unfettered access and (2) 5R legal permissions to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute them, that can be used to replace traditional expensive learning resources (such as textbooks)" (http://openedgroup.org/review).

As the field of open education has emerged, the number of available resources has grown exponentially to include a wide variety of instructional materials such as free alternatives to traditional textbooks like those published by OpenStax (http://www.openstaxcollege.org), historical publications and artifacts made available in the public domain, open source multimedia and information sources (such as TED Talks or Khan Academy), and open access academic journal articles. Creative Commons, the prominent open licensing organization, found that application of their open licenses grew from 800 million materials in 2014 to over one billion by the end of 2015 (Creative Commons, 2015). The future of educational resources online is increasingly open.

Given the rising costs associated with post-secondary education, it is unsurprising that OER have seen such rapid growth and development. Colleges and universities that move toward OER will likely assure student access to materials from the first day of class as well as a significant cost savings. As is often the case with any new movement, much of the evidence that currently exists about such OER benefits is anecdotal. Empirical evaluation is needed to determine if and how these resources compare to their monetized counterparts and to validate long-term strategies for lowering costs while improving learning outcomes for students.

One of the best ways to comprehensively legitimize OER is by reviewing and contributing peer-reviewed research about these resources. Given the novelty of the subject matter, the pool of peer-reviewed and published research is a small one. By examining the types of studies that have taken place and the research questions that have been answered thus far, however, certain themes and possibilities may construct a publication-rich path forward for those of us investigating OER. This presentation details the results of a study in which we evaluated the current state of peer-reviewed, OER-focused research by way of the following considerations:

1. What peer-reviewed literature exists about OER?
2. How might we best classify these publications?
3. What are the trends have emerged in OER scholarship over time?
4. How might we describe the current state of OER literature?
5. What future implications and opportunities exist for OER researchers? ξ

By highlighting what the field already knows and publishes about OER, this presentation employs data-driven speculation about the types of OER research studies that will most benefit the future of "open."

avatar for Alesha Baker

Alesha Baker

Oklahoma State University

Deanna Cozart

Coordinator of Open Educational Resources, The University of Georgia
avatar for Jonathan Lashley

Jonathan Lashley

Senior Instructional Technologist, Boise State University

Friday November 4, 2016 3:15pm - 3:40pm EDT