Posted by Una Daly Una Daly

by Fred Lokken, 2016 ITC National eLearning Survey, 12th Edition Author and ITC Board Member.

The Instructional Technology Council (ITC), a leader in distance education, started tracking open education impact among it members five years ago.   Using the annual ITC distance education survey, member institutions have reported a 20% growth in impact due to open educational resource (OER) adoption.  The following questions were used to measure perceived progress and barriers to OER adoption.

QUESTION 1:  What is the anticipated level of impact at your campus of the adoption of OER materials by faculty?

OER:  Anticipated Level Of Impact At Your Campus

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Very Little 60% 50% 52% 50% 41%
Significant 36% 45% 46% 50% 57%


What the survey results tell us:

On this question, the results are clear.  In the past five years, the OER effort has gained noticeable momentum with an increase of 20% for those anticipating the level of impact of OER materials will be SIGNIFICANT.


QUESTION 2:  What are the current roadblocks to the adoption of OER materials at your campus?

Current Roadblocks to OER Materials Adoption On Your Campus

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Lack of faculty awareness 66% 76% 51% 72% 70%
Lack of ancillary materials 21% 27% 27% 28% 45%
Credibility of sources —- 45% 45% 45% 45%
Resistance from administration 13% 13% 10% 10% 10%
Time needed to locate/evaluate OER resources 67% 77% 66% 84% 76%


What the survey results tell us:

Two roadblocks truly stand out:  the lack of faculty awareness and the time needed to locate/evaluate OER resources.  The data begs the question as to why these are the two most significant barriers to OER adoption.  To begin with, other questions on the ITC National eLearning Survey provide a necessary backdrop to this question on current roadblocks to OER materials adoption.  Specifically, the ITC Survey has confirmed that a substantial number of eLearning programs are significantly under-staffed.  A lack of staffing  can also explain the roadblocks regarding faculty awareness and the time needed to locate/evaluate OER resources.  Both issues are labor-intensive, and if you don’t have the staff, the roadblocks remain.

There may be a more fundamental problem.  We don’t ask the question but we need to:   who is responsible for OER on your campus?  Right?   On many campuses, the answer is “no one”.  Normally, the effort is led by a dedicated but seriously overworked faculty member or is an additional duty for the library. In that case, the OER effort on that campus is likely not a high priority.

Clearly, progress is being made in the adoption of OER materials.  The ITC National Survey data helps to confirm that.  It is unclear whether or not the OER effort has reached the critical tipping point of acceptance yet, but national grant funding, the growth in collaborations, the acceptance by USDOE and USDOL, and the quality of the leadership at the national and international levels bode well for the future of OER.  This one solution has emerged as the most effective for reducing student costs.    The ITC National eLearning Survey data affirms that the OER effort is gaining momentum on America’s college campuses but also confirms that challenges remain.

The Instructional Technology Council, an affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) established in 1977, represents higher education institutions in the United States and Canada and is a leader in advancing distance education.

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