OAKLAND, Calif., March 18, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Fall 2020 academic term saw a dramatic shift in the proportion of higher education faculty teaching online, driving a transition of existing courses and educational materials into digital formats, according to a survey of faculty conducted by Bay View Analytics. Survey results also show that while the level of awareness of Open Educational Resources (OER), educational resources that are freely available for use, reuse, adaptation, and sharing, grew for the fifth straight year, OER adoption rates remained stable.
The study, Digital Texts in the Time of COVID: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2020, was conducted by Bay View Analytics and supported by a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The results reflect responses from over 3,200 faculty and department chairpersons. The report shows improvements in faculty satisfaction with OER textbooks and an increased reliance on digital materials to meet online instruction demands.
Key findings from the report include:
A majority of faculty now report some level of awareness of OER, the fifth straight year of growth.
Faculty who have adopted OER rate their quality slightly superior to that of commercial alternatives.
The level of adoption of OER as required course material did not increase, marking the first time that growth in awareness was not coupled with growth in adoption. The adoption of OER supplemental materials continued its year-over-year growth, however.
The overwhelming majority of faculty taught the same course in Fall 2020 as previously, but the proportion teaching online jumped from 34% to 71%; those teaching face-to-face fell from 96% to only 14%.
A majority of faculty modified their course for the Fall term, with 79% reporting these changes were driven by pandemic-related issues.
As was true last year, faculty who are aware of institutional or system-level OER initiatives were three to four times as likely to adopt OER as those who were not aware.
OER plays a more prominent role at minority-serving institutions than at other types of higher education institutions. Faculty at these institutions are more likely to have adopted OER materials, both for required and supplemental materials, than are faculty at other types of institutions.
"Financial concern for students has grown in the pandemic, which makes OER a strong option for faculty," said Dr. Julia Seaman, Research Director for Bay View Analytics. "Faculty are also finding OER that are equal or higher quality than commercial alternatives."
"Over the past year, countless faculty members have spent a great deal of time and energy making the shift to online learning. Following these drastic changes, I believe that many faculty may desire more customizable and accessible materials. This change in perspective may lead some faculty to choose OER to meet their students' needs." noted Julie Lazzara, professor of psychology at Paradise Valley Community College.
The complete report, Digital Texts in the Time of COVID: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2020 is released under a Creative Commons license and is available for download at https://www.onlinelearningsurvey.com/oer.html.
About Bay View Analytics
Formerly known as the Babson Survey Research Group, Bay View Analytics (https://www.onlinelearningsurvey.com/) conducts regional, national, and international research projects, including survey design, sampling methodology, data integrity, statistical analyses and reporting.