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Awareness of open educational resources (OER) and open educational practice (OEP) in Scottish Colleges Survey Results


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Interim Report

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Awareness of open educational resources (OER) and open educational practice (OEP) in Scottish Colleges Survey Results

  1. 1. Awareness of open educational resources (OER) and open educational practice (OEP) in Scottish Colleges Survey Results Interim Report Beatriz de los Arcos, Pete Cannell, Rosemarie McIlwhan August 2016
  2. 2. 1 Executive Summary Key findings • Awareness of open educational resources (OER) among educators in Scotland’s colleges is very low • Awareness of CC licenses is lower than public domain or copyright (but awareness of all license types is higher than awareness of OER in general) • Most educators share teaching materials via their institutions VLE but few share them openly online • Quality and accuracy are the most important factors influencing educators’ choice of teaching material • Lack of awareness and not knowing how to use OER are perceived as the highest barriers to adoption of OER • Staff who attend CPD opportunities are more likely to engage with OER and OEP Recommendations • Efforts to raise awareness of OER and OEP among teaching staff in Scotland’s colleges need to be scaled up • Opportunities for development around the use of OER in the curriculum (and especially the affordances and limitations of open licenses) should be provided • Colleges should consider the possibility of ‘opening up’ their VLEs, and establish how to best support and encourage their teaching staff to share resources openly
  3. 3. 2 The Colleges survey Context The Opening Educational Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project1 facilitates best practice in Scottish open education. The project aims to enhance Scotland’s reputation and capacity for developing publicly available and licensed online materials, supported by high quality pedagogy and learning technology. Part of the project’s objectives is to identify current awareness of open educational resources (OER) and open educational practice (OEP) in Scotland across tertiary education and informal learning. This survey is part of that work. A similar survey has been conducted for the university sector. Both surveys form part of a wider engagement with tertiary education. Dialogue with college staff and others involved in education and training has taken place through four open forums, workshops and events, and through collaborative activity with college staff, the College Development Network and the TQFE team at Stirling University. The project team see the project as a large-scale action research project in which qualitative data is garnered through an iterative cycle of action, evaluation and reflection. This process of participatory events and collaborative activity has been a source of valuable insights into the level of awareness of OER and OEP in Scottish colleges. Introduction The Open Educational Practices in Scotland (OEPS) Project conducted a survey to find out about the level of awareness of open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP) among college staff in Scotland. The survey questions were adapted from research instruments by the Open Education Research Hub2 (OERH), the Babson Survey Research Group3 and the Boston Consulting Group4 , which allowed, to a certain extent, for comparison of results across educational contexts around the globe. The survey was constructed in SurveyMonkey and shared online by institutional contacts. In total 236 valid responses were collected in a seven-week period from February 1st , 2016 to March 20th , 2016. The survey was distributed in 24 Colleges, and responses were obtained from 16 of them; however, as Figure 1 shows, most respondents came from Edinburgh College (n=50), West College Scotland (n=40), New College Lanarkshire (n=38), Fife College (n=25) and Glasgow Kelvin College (n=25), making unadvisable any conclusion that these results are necessarily representative of the sector as a whole. Having said that, it is worth highlighting that findings hereby reported do not differ radically from findings obtained in 1 2 3 4
  4. 4. 3 previous research (de los Arcos, Farrow, Perryman, Pitt, & Weller, 2014; Allen & Seaman, 2014; de los Arcos, Farrow, Pitt, Perryman, Weller & McAndrew, 2015). Figure 1. Distribution of responses Characteristics of the sample The sample (Table 1) comprises of a majority of female (56.4%, n=133), highly experienced educators –32.2% (n=76) with over 20 years of teaching experience. Most teach full-time (71.6%, n=166), face-to-face (89.8%, n=211) and at both National Certificate and Higher national level (51.9%, n=120). Figure 2 shows a breakdown of responses by discipline taught. 2.1% 3.8% 0.4% 6.8% 5.1% 21.2% 10.6% 0.4% 1.7% 10.6% 0% 0% 0% 16.1% 0% 1.7% 0% 0% 0.4% 0% 0% 0% 16.9% 1.7% 0.4% Ayrshire College Borders College City of Glasgow College Dumfries & Galloway College Dundee and Angus College Edinburgh College Fife College Forth Valley College Glasgow Clyde College Glasgow Kelvin College Inverness College UHI Lews Castle College UHI Moray College UHI New College Lanarkshire Newbattle Abbey College North East Scotland College North Highland College UHI Orkney College UHI Perth College UHI Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI Shetland College UHI South Lanarkshire College West College Scotland West Lothian College College Development Network
  5. 5. 4 Table 1. Sample Characteristics ALL RESPONSES N=236 Gender Female 56.4% Male 42.4% Teaching experience > 20 years 32.2% 16-20 years 16.1% Teaching mode Full-time 71.6% Part-time 28.4% Teaching context Face-to-face teaching 89.8% Blended teaching 9.8% Online teaching .4% Teaching level NC 31.2% HN 16.9% Figure 2. Breakdown of responses by discipline Hairdressing & Beauty 7% Education & Training 2% Art & Design 1% Construction 5% Engineering 10% Media 2% Performing Arts 1% Business & Management 8% Care 12% Science 3% Social subjects 8% Sport & Leisure 5% Computing & ICT 12% Hospitality & Tourism 7% Language & ESOL 3% Other subject 8% Core skills 3%
  6. 6. 5 Awareness of OER Respondents were asked to self-report their awareness of OER, after reading the following definition: “OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Unlike traditionally copyrighted material, these resources are available for ‘open’ use, which means that users can edit, modify, customize, and share them.” Results show that level of awareness of OER in this particular sample is very low: a majority of respondents (54.2%, n=128) indicated they were unaware of OER, 39% (n=92) that they heard of OER but didn’t know much about them, and only 6.8% (n=16) that they were aware of OER and knew how to use them in the classroom. Note that 3 out of the 16 respondents who declared themselves aware of OER also said that they did not use OER; accordingly, responses were merged to create three groups for comparative analysis, as shown in Table 2. Table 2. Categories of survey respondents ALL RESPONSES N=236 Count % Valid % OER users 13 5.5 5.5 OER aware but non-users 95 40.3 40.3 OER unaware 128 54.2 54.2 Total 236 100 100 The lack of awareness of OER among teaching staff in Scottish Colleges mirrors the findings of the Scottish University sector survey that was also conducted by the OEPS project5 . It is also in line with the results reported by the Babson Survey Research Group (Allen & Seaman, 2014) in their examination of the attitudes, opinions and use of OER among teaching staff in US higher education, wherein only 20% of those surveyed claimed to be aware or very aware of OER. 5
  7. 7. 6 Selecting resources for teaching All respondents were asked to rate on a four-point Likert scale a series of factors in relation to their selection of resources for teaching. Nearly all respondents selected ‘high-quality and factually correct’ (99.6%, n=235) as important or very important; subsequent high percentages correspond to selecting resources that are ‘proven to improve student performance’ (98.7%, n=228), ‘current and up-to-date’ (97.9%, n=231) and ‘cover my subject area sufficiently’ (97.5%, n=230). When comparing groups (Table 3), we found that 100% of OER users select teaching resources that are proven to improve student performance, of high-quality, factually correct, current, up-to- date, easy to use and allowing adaptation. Non-OER users coincide with OER users in championing resources that are of high quality. Those unaware of OER favour improved student performance over accuracy and quality. Table 3. Factors influencing selection of teaching resources ALL RESPONSES N=236 OER users n=13 OER non-users n=95 OER unaware n=128 Count Valid % Count Valid % Count Valid % Count Valid % Cost 182 81.3 10 83.3 75 81.5 97 80.8 Proven to improve student performance 228 98.7 13 100 92 97.9 123 99.2 Easy to find 210 90.1 11 91.7 82 87.2 117 92.1 Includes all the materials I need 199 85 10 76.9 79 84 110 86.6 High-quality and factually correct 235 99.6 13 100 95 100 127 99.2 Covers my subject area sufficiently 230 97.5 13 76.9 94 98.9 123 96.1 Mapped to learning outcomes 180 77.3 10 83.3 73 77.7 97 76.4 Current & up-to-date 231 97.9 13 100 95 100 123 96.1 Easy to use 215 91.9 13 100 85 90.4 117 92.1
  8. 8. 7 Used by other colleagues in my Department 115 49.1 7 58.3 48 51.1 60 46.9 Provided by my college 101 43.5 5 38.5 40 43 56 44.4 Ready to use 182 77.4 10 76.9 75 79.8 97 75.8 Adaptable/editable 222 95.3 13 100 89 95.7 120 94.5 Invited comments on other factors that influence choice of teaching resources highlight a preference for localized materials – “I teach history. I like to use resources relating to local history if possible”, “Tailored to Scottish curriculum. It annoys me to make do with what was produced for England”; and learner-centered –“Engaging for students”, “Interactive for student involvement”. Use of repositories The three most commonly used repositories and educational sites reported in this particular sample are YouTube (94.9%, n=224), followed by SQA Open Access (44.5%, n=105) and TED Talks (39.8%, n=94) (Figure 3). This pattern of use continues when looking at data from the three separate groups, but it is worth emphasizing that use of OER repositories (i.e. OpenLearn, Jorum) by OER users is much higher than those who are not aware or don’t use OER. Figure 3. Use of repositories Sharing teaching resources Results indicate that sharing teaching resources is common practice among surveyed educators, with only 1.1% (n=3) declaring their unwillingness to part with their materials. Overall, a majority share via their college’s VLE (69.1%, n=163), in person (61.4%, n=145) and via email if asked 28.8% 94.9% 39.8% 1.7% 28.4% 14.8% 9.3% 3.8% 9.7% 19.9% 3.8% 1.7% 16.1% 44.5% 19.1% 26.3%
  9. 9. 8 privately (56.4%, n=133). In this sample of educators in Scottish colleges, only 9.3% (n=22) publish their teaching materials publicly online. Figure 4 shows the differences in sharing practice by group. Respondents who use OER also engage in sharing (and sharing publicly online) more often than their counterparts. Figure 4. Sharing teaching resources The following quotes underline some of the issues that need to be addressed if sharing practices are to be encouraged in the colleges sector in Scotland: “Yes, [I share] and I have been both nationally and in all colleges I have taught in over the last 30 years. So much so I often see my own work rebadged and rebranded as someone else’s.” “[I share via] professional email network - only a couple of staff (including myself) tend to contribute resources and despite requests for feedback on development on what I've put up very little responses received.” Awareness of Creative Commons Licenses Respondents were asked to rate how they perceived their awareness of Public Domain, Copyright and Creative Commons (CC) licenses on a four-point Likert scale. 90.7% (n=214) said they were aware or very aware of Copyright, 68.2% (n=159) that they were aware or very aware of Public Domain, and a lower 38.1% (n=88) aware of CC licenses. Note the disparity: while overall awareness of CC stands at 38.1% (counting only ‘Aware” and ‘Very Aware’ responses), awareness of OER stands at 17%. A comparison of responses by group (Table 4) reveals that awareness of CC is high among OER users (but not at 100%), while it is at its lowest among those unaware of OER (but not at 0%). 0% 77% 22.5% 31% 62% 0% 73% 5% 52% 52% 2.3% 65.6% 10.2% 68% 59.4% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Don’t share Through institution's VLE Publicly online In person Via email, privately OER unaware OER non-users OER users
  10. 10. 9 Table 4. Awareness of licensing by group OER users n=13 OER non-users n=95 OER unaware n=128 Count Valid % Count Valid % Count Valid % Public Domain 13 100 76 80.9 70 55.6 Copyright 13 100 89 93.7 112 87.5 Creative Commons 12 92.3 47 50.5 29 23 OER users: types of OER used, purpose and impact Users of OER in this particular sample (n=13) reported using OER regularly as supporting material to enhance teaching or as further reference for students rather than primary course material (46.2% versus 30.8% respectively). Figure 5 shows the wide range of OER used by surveyed educators: slides and class presentations are used by all respondents; videos (92.3%, n=12) and images (84.6%, n=11) are the second and third most popular type of OER, while at the lower end of the scale we find whole courses (15.4%, n=2) and open datasets (23.1%, n=3). These findings coincide with those reported in previous research (BCG, 2013; de los Arcos et al., 2014; Allen & Seaman, 2014; de los Arcos et al., 2015). Figure 5. Types of OER Purpose of OER use by educators in this particular sample is shown in Table 5. The highest percentages correspond to using open resources to prepare for teaching, to get new ideas and inspiration, to broaden the range of resources available to students and to engage learners more 92.3% 38.5% 84.6% 53.8% 46.2% 76.9% 76.9% 69.2% 100% 15.4% 61.5% 61.5% 23.1% Videos Audio podcasts Images Infographics Games/simulations Video lectures/tutorials Tests/quizzes Open textbooks Slides/ class presentations Whole course Elements of a course Lesson plans Open datasets
  11. 11. 10 fully. Using OER to make a more culturally diverse classroom or to accommodate diverse learner needs received the smallest number of responses, contrary to findings of research conducted by OERHub in an international setting (de los Arcos et al., 2016). Table 5. Purpose of using OER ALL RESPONSES n=13 Count % Valid % To prepare for my teaching 12 92.3 92.3 To get new ideas and inspiration 12 92.3 92.3 To broaden the range of my teaching methods 10 76.9 76.9 To broaden the range of resources available to my students 12 92.3 92.3 To make my teaching more culturally diverse 9 69.2 69.2 To stay up-to-date in a subject or topic area 11 84.6 84.6 To engage my students more fully in a topic area 12 92.3 92.3 To interest hard-to-engage learners 11 84.6 84.6 To be able to accommodate diverse learner needs in class 9 69.2 69.2 When asked about the most important reason why they use OER, flexibility and modularity of materials were ranked highest, followed by trusted quality and subject coverage. The fewest number of preferences were recorded in relation to efficacy, and materials being suggested by the College/Department. A study by the Boston Consulting Group (2013) reports similar findings in the context of K12 education: 29% of US schoolteachers adopt OER mainly for the flexibility they afford to adapt the content, and their low cost. A minority (41.7%, n=5) of OEPS-surveyed college educators said they were aware of OER being used by students but did not volunteer any examples. However, a majority (75%, n=9) said they encourage their students to use OER –“Some of the best resources are recommended by students themselves!”. Table 6 shows how educators perceive OER having an impact on teaching and learning. A majority agree that OER use leads to improvement in student satisfaction and performance, and that the open aspect of OER creates different patterns of usage and adoption compared with other online resources.
  12. 12. 11 Table 6. Impact of OER use Engaging in staff development or CPD opportunities Overall data (Table 7) show that the percentages of those who have attended CPD events were generally much higher across all development opportunities in the group of users of OER compared with non-users of OER. Table 7. Development opportunities attended by OER users/non-users ALL RESPONSES N=97 OER users n=12 OER non-users n=85 Count Valid % Count Valid % Open licensing 5 41.7 14 16.5 Use of already existing OER 10 83.3 49 58.3 OER users n=13 Count % Valid % Use of OER leads to improvement in student performance 9 81.8 81.8 Use of OER leads to improvement in student satisfaction 9 81.8 81.8 The open aspect of OER creates different usage and adoption patterns than other online resources 9 81.8 81.8 Open educational models lead to more equitable access to education, serving a broader base of learners than traditional education 7 63.6 63.6 Use of OER is an effective method for improving retention for at-risk students 8 72.7 72.7 OER adoption at an institutional level leads to financial benefits for students and/or institutions 7 63.6 63.6 Use of OER leads to critical reflection by educators 7 63.6 63.6
  13. 13. 12 Creation of new OER 6 50 25 29.4 Remixing of OER 5 41.7 11 13.4 Open educational practice 5 41.7 12 14.3 Open scholarship 1 9.1 0 0 Open research 3 25 8 9.6 Barriers to the adoption of OER US schoolteachers who self-classify as non-OER users mention that lack of awareness, and not being sure how to use OER, together with time constraints are the main barriers to their adoption of OER (Boston Research Group, 2013). OEPS survey results correspond to these findings. A majority of OEPS college respondents considered lack of awareness of OER the biggest barrier for the adoption of OER –83.3% (n=10) of those who use OER, 91.8% (n=78) of those who don’t use OER despite being aware of them, and 84.6% of those unaware of OER (n=104) (Figure 6). Knowing how to use resources is the second biggest barrier for the three groups. Users of OER rank third most important barrier to the adoption of OER the lack of knowledge about permission to use or change OER (60%, n=6). This serious concern with licensing and its implications when using and/or adapting open resources has also been found in research by Allen & Seaman (2014) concerning US HE educators. Figure 7. Perceived barriers to adoption of OER 76.9% 72.7% 55.6% 55.6% 30% 40% 70% 33.3% 60% 50% 30% 30% 50% 91.8% 72.6% 25.3% 29.3% 11.3% 12.5% 18.1% 18.1% 26.5% 32.1% 17% 12.2% 25.3% 84.6% 70% 18.1% 12.8% 7.7% 8.5% 10.3% 7.7% 10% 18.6% 7.7% 8.5% 20.3% Lack of awareness about OER in general Not sure how to use OER Too hard to find Not enough subject coverage Not high-quality Not current/up-to-date Not relevant to one's local context Too fragmented Not knowing about permission to use/ change Lack of support from colleges Too difficult to change/edit Not effective at improving student performance Not used by colleagues in my Department/Faculty/Curriculum Area OER users OER non-users OER unaware
  14. 14. 13 Discussion The relatively low response rate for this survey from institutions and from individuals within institutions was disappointing. In the OEPS team’s other engagement with colleges it is clear that levels of awareness of OER and OEP are low and this may have contributed to the low level of engagement. As a result it may be the case that the responses to the survey are skewed towards staff with some interest in open education. The small sample size and the above provisos mean that the results of the survey should be treated with caution; however, they underline some Important issues for the sector. Levels of awareness are lower in colleges than in Scottish HEIs. Nonetheless, the survey indicates that there is a high level of use of material from YouTube and similar sites coupled with low levels of awareness of copyright and open licenses. In order to tackle this issue other findings from the OEPS project suggest that if practice is to be changed, CPD needs to go beyond a technical understanding of copyright to address some of the positive reasons why awareness of license types and the affordances of open licenses can support good educational practice.
  15. 15. 14 References: Allen, I.E. & Seaman, J. (2014). Opening the Curriculum: Open Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2014. Available from Boston Consulting Group, The (2013). The Open Education Resources ecosystem: An evaluation of the OER movement’s current state and its progress toward main- stream adoption. Available from tem_1.pdf de los Arcos, B., Farrow, R., Perryman, L.-A., Pitt, R. & Weller, M. (2014). OER Evidence Report 2013-2014. OER Research Hub. Available from de los Arcos, B., Farrow, R., Pitt, R., Perryman, L-A., Weller, M. & McAndrew, P. (2015). OER Research Hub Data 2013-2015: Educators. OER Research Hub. Available from de los Arcos, B., Farrow, R., Pitt, R., Weller, M. & McAndrew, P. (2016). Personalising learning through adaptation: Evidence from a global survey of K-12 teachers’ perceptions of their use of open educational resources. Journal of Online Learning Research, 2(1): 23-40. Available from
  16. 16. 15 Acknowledgements The Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project gratefully acknowledges the support of each higher education institution who distributed the survey and to the participants who completed the survey. We also acknowledge the financial support of the Scottish Funding Council which funds the project. This report is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). Survey data available at Suggested citation: de los Arcos, B., Cannell, P., & McIlwhan, R. (2016). Awareness of open educational resources (OER) and open educational practice (OEP) in Scottish Colleges Survey Results: Interim Report. Edinburgh, Opening Educational Practices Scotland
  17. 17. 16 Get in touch Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Email: Web: and Twitter: @oepscotland