BC Campus Open Textbook project

Dates: January 2014 – December 2015

Understanding educator use of OER and open textbooks across British Columbia
Since 2012 the British Columbia (BC) Open Textbook project has produced a range of open textbooks for use in Higher Education institutions the BC province. As at April 2016 the project has a total of 140 open textbooks available, saved over 13,000 students $1.3-1.7 million and is aware of 421 adoptions of materials at 27 participating institutions [REF].

Our work with BCcampus, in conjunction with their Faculty Fellows and colleagues, comprised of a survey of educators across British Columbia and a report, which concluded with a series of targeted recommendations to facilitate OER use at HE institutions. The research produced a unique insight into open textbook use across the project and helped the project better understand educator use and understanding of OER, sharing practices and the impact of resources used. Research also investigated educator use and perceptions of BCcampus open textbooks and included questions around perceived quality of open textbooks. The study was groundbreaking in looking at personality traits in relation to open practices and found a relation between being open to new experiences and the reuse and creation of OER.


Jhangiani, R. Pitt, R. Hendricks, C. Key, J. Lalonde, C. (2016) Exploring the Use of Open Educational Resources at British Columbia Post-Secondary Institutions BCcampus research report, Victoria, British Columbia.

Jhangiani, R. Pitt, R. Hendricks, C. & Lalonde, C. Faculty attitudes towards OER and open textbooks in British Columbia and Beyond OpenEd 2015, Vancouver, British Columbia (19 November 2015) http://www.slideshare.net/thatpsychprof/faculty-attitudes-towards-oer
Distinguishing the dOERs: Faculty use of Open Educational Resources. BCcampus: Open Education Week webinar (10 March 2015) https://open.bccampus.ca/2015/02/06/open-webinars-for-open-education-week/


Dates: Dec 2012 – August 2014

Helping community colleges in the USA better understand the difference OER is making to students, institutions and educator practices
The Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) at the Open Education Consortium is composed of over 250 community and technical colleges representing individual, regional, and statewide consortia members in 17 North American states and provinces. OER Research Hub worked with CCCOER to collect quantitative and qualitative data from educators in seven states about the impact of using OER on their students, institutions and educational practice. The results showed that most educators reported positive effects on teaching practice as a result of OER use, particularly around peer collaboration and improved subject knowledge. Positive effects were also identified for learners, especially around increased self-reliance, subject interest and experimentation. The research also revealed that while many OER creators in colleges believe in the value of open licensing, few seem to practice it. Most educators believe OER saves their students money but the picture is less clear for financial savings in institutions.

Results were disseminated through the CCCOER network, through a webinar programme, and at high-profile conference presentation, helping educators to better understand their own practice and strategies for OER adoption. Community colleges were intended to increase educational access by being low cost and having open enrolments. They were also set up to facilitate credit transfer to universities. Growth was rapid though the 1960s and 1970s. There are now 1,166 colleges in the USA, providing access to high quality affordable academic programmes as well as preparing students for further study.


Farrow, R. & Daly, U. (2014). OER Impact at Community Colleges. eLearning 2014. Hilton Lake Buena Vista, Orlando, Florida, USA. Available from http://www.slideshare.net/OER_Hub/20140215-oerrh-cccoer-pres-34906775.
Farrow, R. & Daly, U. (2014). OER Research Hub examines OER Impact in community colleges. Open Education Global 2014: Open Education for a Multicultural World. Available from http://conference.oeconsortium.org/2014/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Paper_85.pdf.
Pitt, R. (2014). OER Research on Open Textbook adoption and Librarians (webinar). Available from http://www.slideshare.net/OER_Hub/cccoer-42566531.
Daly, U. (2013). CCCOER / OER Research Hub Fellowship Report. Available from http://www.slideshare.net/UnaDaly/cccoer-oerrh-fellowship.

Saylor Academy

Date: July 2013 – Dec 2014

Helping OER providers to better understand their audiences and their needs
Saylor Academy provides complete free, college-level courses presented similarly to enrollment majors at traditional U.S. colleges. Consultant subject experts and instructional designers create outlines for courses which are then populated with openly licensed content as well as bespoke material. Courses are peer-reviewed before release on a CC-BY Attribution Licence. Some Saylor courses are accredited but alternative assessments (such as badges) are also encouraged.

One consequence of the Saylor open distribution model is that it can be hard to understand how the end user – typically studying privately – is engaging with their material. Through a programme of survey based research engaging with non-formal users of Saylor materials it became possible to have a clearer understanding of how these users compare with users of other repositories; what motivates their study; the impact on their learning; and how exposure to OER influences future behaviour. Our research showed that most of their users were well educated and interested in primarily interested in professional development. An unanticipated finding was a relatively high level of OER adaptation by these learners. This information was shared through OER Research Hub reports and academic papers as well as feeding into Saylor Academy strategy..

Farrow, R., de los Arcos, B., Pitt, R., & Weller, M. (2015). Who are the Open Learners? A Comparative Study Profiling non-Formal Users of Open Educational Resources. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning, 18(2). http://oro.open.ac.uk/4496

Presentation from Open Ed 2015 http://www.slideshare.net/robertfarrow/who-are-the-open-learners-a-comparative-study-profiling-nonformal-users-of-open-educational-resources


Dates: Jan 2013- June 2014

Localising OER to meet the needs of educators in India
TESS-India aims to use OER both in training new teachers, to meet a shortfall estimated at 1.33 million, and in improving the practice of existing teachers, reducing pressure on teacher education institutions and enabling them to deliver quality teacher training, at scale and speed, to both teachers in training and teachers in the classroom. The project worked in partnership with Indian states and a range of education institutions to create the first and biggest network of freely available, high quality, teacher education resources in India, co-written by UK and Indian academic experts and available both in print and online. OER Research Hub fellow Leigh-Anne Perryman conducted research on the process of OER localisation, whereby various aspects of the teacher education materials (e.g. language, pedagogy, imagery and cultural references) are adapted to meet the needs of each of the Indian states in which those resources will be delivered. A large-scale pan-India survey of attitudes towards OER use, adoption and practice in a variety of settings is currently in progress.


Perryman, L.-A. & Seal, T. (2015). Open educational practices and attitudes to openness across India: reporting the findings of the OER Research Hub pan-India survey. In: OER15, 14-15 April 2015, Cardiff. http://oro.open.ac.uk/43345/

Perryman, L.-A. & Coughlan, T. (2014). When two worlds don’t collide: can social curation address the marginalisation of open educational practices and resources from outside academia? Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2014(2), article no. 3. http://oro.open.ac.uk/41629/

Bridge to Success

Dates: January 2013 – July 2015

Evaluating and reporting project impact and use of whole course OER
The Gates funded Bridge to Success project (2011-2012) developed and piloted whole course OER in math and learning/personal development skills. The courses were developed to help students transition into community college study but also reached broader audiences through their use in informal contexts such as non-profit organisations.

Pilot scheduling and uptake toward the end of the project had meant that only short-term evidence of impact and specific pilots were taken into consideration during the project’s original research schedule. Awareness of continued use of materials and the need for further mid-long term research enabled the OER Hub to conduct a follow-up study of the impact of materials post-project. This work comprised of 15 interviews and 1 focus group. A range of diverse and diffuse impacts and recommendations were generated as part of this research including documenting the role of Bridge to Success in a University College moving to an 100% OER/e-resources model and the diversity of community college students’ needs.


Reflecting back on the diverse innovations and impacts prompted by an OER project (with Coughlan, T. & Farrow, R.) OER16, Edinburgh, Scotland. (20 April 2016).
Reflecting back on the diverse innovations and impacts

Assessing OER Impact across organisations and learners: experiences from the Bridge to Success project (Pitt, R. Ebrahimi, N, McAndrew, P. & Coughlan, T.) In: Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME). December 2013. http://www-jime.open.ac.uk/articles/10.5334/2013-17/
Assessing OER Impact across varied organisations and learners: experiences from the Bridge to Success initiative (co-authored with Coughlan, T (Nottingham), Ebrahimi, N (Anne Arundel) & McAndrew, P. (Open, UK), OER13, The University of Nottingham, UK (March 2013)

Building open bridges: collaborative remixing and reuse of open educational resources across organisations. Coughlan, T. Pitt, R. & McAndrew, P (2013). In: 2013 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Proceedings, 29 April – 02 May 2013, Paris, France. http://oro.open.ac.uk/36473/1/B2S-CHI-2013.pdf

OpenStax College

Date: January 2013 – Spring 2015

Working with individual institutions to assess the efficacy and impact of OER
OpenStax College produce peer reviewed open textbooks in a range of subjects. With 22 open textbooks published to date since their inception in June 2012, in April 2016 OpenStax reported that almost a quarter (22%) of US colleges/universities were using at least one OpenStax open textbook. You can remix OpenStax College textbooks and browse other OER on their repository and remix platform, OpenStax CNX (formerly Connexions).

Collaborative research with OER Hub comprised of two phases. During 2013 and 2014/2015 the OER Hub ran questionnaires for both students and educators utilising OpenStax materials. These questionnaires aimed to both find out more about participants use of OER but also the impact of OpenStax materials. We also gathered feedback on behalf of OpenStax on the perceived quality of the textbooks. A small number of interview impact case studies were also carried out with educators as part of this research phase.

A second phase of separately funded research took place during autumn and winter 2014. This comprised of targeted case studies with select institutions to assess the impact of OpenStax textbooks, their efficacy and user feedback. Interviews with educators and a small student focus group took place both online and face-to-face during a trip to Washington in November 2014. A range of perceived benefits were reported by students during this study, including higher levels of increased independence and self-reliance than other students using OER as part of their formal studies and perceived grade improvement.


Pitt, R. Mainstreaming Open Textbooks: Educator Perspectives on the Impact of OpenStax College open textbooks The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL) Volume 16, No4 (2015) 133-155. http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/2381

OpenStax infographic OER Research Hub Student Survey https://openstaxcollege.org/news/oer-research-hub-student-survey and OER Research Hub Educator Survey https://openstaxcollege.org/news/oer-research-hub-educator-survey

Exploring the Impact of Open Textbooks around the World. BCcampus: Open Textbooks Summit, Vancouver, British Columbia (28 May 2015)



Dates: June 2014 – Apr 2015

We shared our expertise in OER impact research by collaborating with researchers in the Global South
Research on Open Educational Resources for Development (ROER4D) is a large scale project which aims to provide evidence-based research into the use and impact of OER from a number of countries in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and South / South East Asia. One aspect looked at OER impact in specific countries through case studies in the Global South. OER Hub researcher Rob Farrow was brought in as a consultant to run a workshop for ROER4D impact study grantees in Malaysia to share experiences and best practices, encourage reflection on the wider implications of open practices, and work closely with the research teams to develop robust methodologies and strategies for evaluating OER impact. The completed impact studies comprise an important part of the ROER4D evidence portfolio which is the most complete picture yet developed of how OER is making a difference in the developing world.


A record of the Impact Studies workshop held in Malaysia in December is available at http://www.slideshare.net/robertfarrow/roer4d-impact-studies-workshop

Slides from a short follow-up session held in Banff, Apr 2015 http://www.slideshare.net/robertfarrow/mapping-oer-in-the-global-south

Open Research Course

Dates: 2014 – Present

Promoting open research practices through open course creation
Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) facilitate face-to-face and online open community learning opportunities and courses. Building on collaborative research activity with P2PU to better understand a range of School of Open course participants, in 2014 we launched our first facilitated course Open Research. The course’s focus was unique to School of Open and fulfilled an identified gap in their offerings.

The four week facilitated course explored the nature of open research, the ethics of researching in the open, dissemination and open reflection. The first facilitated version of the course ran between 15 September 2014 – 12 October 2014 and 139 participants from 29 different identified countries across 5 continents. A second facilitated iteration of the course ran between 14 September 2015 – 11 October 2015 with 68 participants from 10 different identified countries across 4 continents. The course content was also repurposed in a face-to-face context during open access week in Mexico. A stand-alone version of the course which incorporates participant contributions plus an additional Pressbook workbook is currently in development for early autumn 2016.


Open Research 2014
Open Research 2015



Case studies


Current projects