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Open Educational Resources: An Opportunity to Enhance Student Success: TMCC OER Faculty Survey Data

Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute: The Four Pillars toward course completion, improved grades, increased credit load, and overall student success. How the library can assist faculty in achieving these goals effectively and efficiently.

TMCC OER Faculty Survey Data

TMCC Faculty Survey

  1. Teaching Status:           Full      34 @ 72%        Part-Time         13 @ 28%
  2. Number of years teaching in a college environment:

            1 – 5 = 4 faculty or 8.5%           6 – 10 = 9 faculty or 19%          11 – 15 = 8 faculty or 17%

            16 – 20 = 14 faculty or 30%      21+ years = 12 faculty or 25.5%

Due to hiring freezes over the last five years, the 1 – 5 year grouping percentage is probably indicative of that reality. 

  1. Your primary discipline:  Anthropology, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Education, English, Environmental Science, Geology, Health Sciences, History, Humanities, Math, Nutrition, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Other

13 English        8 Health Sciences         7 Humanities                5 Biology            2 Computer Sci

2 Business        2 Math             2 Psychology                1 Sociology                  1 Art

1 Graphic Arts              1 Foreign Lang             1 EPY              1 Vocational

  1. How often have you done each of the following?

Used library database articles to support instruction

Never/NA                     Rarely              Occasionally                 Regularly

13%                             16%                 31%                             40%

Impressive percentages, especially the 40% responding regularly. Of the 47 respondents, seven of the faculty is in disciplines not requiring library resources to support instruction.

Used library subscribed film databases to support instruction

Never/NA                     Rarely              Occasionally                 Regularly

47%                             23%                 13%                             17%

The 17% reflects the English and Humanities faculty who have requested Films Media Group and Films for the Humanities access. Broader exposure of film databases should be pursued, especially since Films Media Group embraces many social science academic disciplines.

Used library subscribed eBooks to support instruction

Never/NA                     Rarely              Occasionally                 Regularly

57%                             23%                 11%                             9%

Library EBook integration is both a time consuming and effort related endeavor. Ebrary authentication in the past has been problematic. Thus, for faculty to depend upon consistent access is not in the cards. Librarians would like to market this resource more robustly, but fingers are always crossed on reliability. EBSCO ebooks are solid in authentication and the creation of persistent links. I use both in my film class, and have had no difficulties. In my survey interviews with regional librarians, their difficulties concerning promoting ebooks for integration were faculty time, knowledge, technical linking awareness, and the high percentage of adjunct faculty.

Had a librarian perform a class instructional session

Never/NA                     Rarely              Occasionally                 Regularly

32%                             13%                 28%                             28%

Requested a librarian to create a guide to research resources in your discipline

Never/NA                     Rarely              Occasionally                 Regularly

45%                             13%                 25%                             17%

Here is an avenue of opportunity with the LibGuides.  LibGuides can be either generic to a discipline or specific to a class section. The specific to a class section perhaps achieves the greatest result. In addition, the LibGuides can reside in many locations, the library resources page, Canvas, and the instructor’s course content module. For maximum student access, I believe LibGuides should be specific to a section’s assignments and information literacy needs. I also believe the LibGuide should reside on the instructor’s Canvas course page in association with the research project. Direct and immediate access guarantees enhanced student success. The library should also produce a five-minute how-to access tutorial to post on the instructor’s assignment module to assist visual learners.

Created a reader or used open educational resources instead of a traditional text

Never/NA                     Rarely              Occasionally                 Regularly

41%                             16%                 27%                             16%

At 16% a high minority of faculty are already moving away from the publisher’s textbook.  Taking the 27% of faculty who occasionally utilize a non-textbook resource the number increases to 43%. Here is an inspiring synergy to influence faculty peers and a rich opportunity for library integration of subscribed e-resources and free/open educational resources.

Used online videos to support instruction

Never/NA                     Rarely              Occasionally                 Regularly

2%                               11%                 35%                             52%

The majority of faculty already uses online videos to support instruction. Text materials are the next stage and librarians can accelerate the evolution by communicating available resources, assisting with technical integration, and explaining licensing.

Researched alternatives to a costly textbook

Never/NA                     Rarely              Occasionally                 Regularly

13%                             18%                 38%                             31%

Nearly one-third of surveyed faculty regularly researched alternatives to the textbook, with nearly 40% occasionally. That adds up to 69% of the surveyed faculty for one reason or another not expressing a satisfaction for the traditional method of course content reading.

Discussed with discipline colleagues alternatives to a costly text

Never/NA                     Rarely              Occasionally                 Regularly

12%                             12%                 47%                             29%

Obviously, faculty concern is vocalized among peers and in that voicing, perhaps the desire to seek solutions is sought. If so, time and awareness are the constraints to identifying alternatives. By matching a librarian to an assigned division, and placing this representative responsibility on the librarian annual plan, librarians can assist with library resource and OER adoption. In addition, faculty should also have OER/library resource selection and adoption placed on their annual plan to acknowledge this time and energy-consuming endeavor.

  1. Who has the PRIMARY role in selecting educational resources for use in the courses you teach? 

I do = 33 faculty                       faculty committee = 11 

dept. coordinator = 4                 dept. chair = 2               dean =              1

70% of the surveyed faculty has primary say in their textbook selection. 

For 23% selection is made through faculty committee

For 15% of the respondents, coordinator, department chair, and dean had primary responsibility.

Surveys are generally microcosms for the larger population. Marketing of OER should be based upon knowledge that perhaps 60% of faculty make their own textbook selection and as such, if the best non-publisher materials are available, both online and in-text format, someone needs to create campus-wide awareness. Librarians already do this for our student populations when it comes to alternatives to Google and Yahoo Internet sites.  How is this next phase any different if it can be proved that utilization at another institution has documented concrete success in course performance. Sharing means both product and product results. Documented success testimonials at other community colleges abound and should be shared with TMCC faculty, chairs, and deans.

  1. Has the cost of textbooks caused concern for you?         Yes      95%    
  2. Have you created a low cost reader to replace the publisher’s textbook?            Yes  33%            
  3. Given assistance by librarians, would you consider producing an alternative to a publisher’s text by using (bold the most appropriate or delete what is not):

Low/no cost open educational textbooks  25 

Library ebooks  21

             Library databases 19                

              Library online videos  18

Open access journal articles 17                         

Awareness of success at other colleges  10

Interestingly, following low/no cost textbooks, library resources were the next best-considered alternatives to the publisher’s text. Perhaps not surprising, awareness of success at other colleges was the least selected alternatives. This may be attributed to Nevada having a small academic community when compared to California, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona. In addition, traditional friction between UNR and TMCC perhaps influences the cross-town dialog. In California, Washington, and Oregon distance between college campuses is not as great as Nevada. In addition, state initiatives and rewards foster a climate for adopting alternatives to the publisher’s textbook. Furthermore, many of these colleges are organized in regional districts.  Perhaps Nevada needs to become a sister state to better embrace progressive changes in academia. Skype and Webinars make this linkage cost-effective and real-time actualized. Cell phones allow cross academic communication at no cost and email transmits documents at the click of the send button.  It is my belief that OER adoption will not be successful at TMCC until TMCC faculty are aware of what has transpired elsewhere and the mechanics for how it was accomplished. Cell phones and emails can do just that.

  1. Given the opportunity, would you use a no/low cost open educational textbook that is peer reviewed and proven?       

Yes  76%            No  11%         Cannot make that decision but would if I could  13%

76% responding Yes proves the point that TMCC faculty IS receptive. Proven and peer reviewed is what are faculty need to see and librarians can assist in creating that awareness.

  1. Bold any of the following Open Educational Resource and Public Domain repositories if you have heard of them:             Project Gutenberg  20   

            Wikibooks  15 

             OER Commons  7

             Open Stax  (Rice University)     6         

             Bloomsbury Academic  4

             Open Academics (University of Minnesota)  3

             College Open Textbooks (funded by Hewlett Foundation)    3

             Global Textbook Project (University of Georgia)              1                        

             Connexions 1

A primary responsibility to create OER awareness would be connecting faculty with the best providers of open source materials: Open Stax, Open Academics, College Open Textbook, and Global Textbook. This is a marketing concept and if librarians are to be assigned this responsibility, it should be included on the annual plan.

  1. When selecting resources for your teaching, which of the following factors are most important to you? 

Covers the subjects I wish to teach  36

Content   relevant to curriculum   29

Cost     18

Current  16

Ease of access  16

Works with Canvas  14

Proven to improve student performance 13

              Used by other course section faculty  5

              Editable  5                   

              Assigned and I live with It  3    

Other factors: 1 test bank,  1friendly online homework,  1 free of errors

Content is the most important criteria for faculty when selecting teaching resources. Cost was third important and access followed. Of interest, proven to improve student performance had a mid-ranking and use by other faculty and editable were close to the criteria bottom.

  1. If you use a publisher’s textbook, are you satisfied with its relationship to course content?

Yes    91%           

  1. Are you satisfied with its pricing?          No  80%
  2. How aware are you of Open Educational Resources (OER)?  OER is defined as “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 faculty can edit, modify, customize,, and share them. 

I am not aware of OER  36%

I have heard about OER, but do not know much about them  42%

I am somewhat aware of OE, but I am not sure how they can be used  6%

I am aware of OER and some of their use cases  9%

I am very aware of OER and know how they can be used in courses  6%

  1. How aware are you of the following licensing mechanisms?

Public Domain:             unaware 24%    somewhat aware  22%   aware            38%     very aware 16%

Copyright:                    unaware 7%      somewhat aware  26%   aware            43%     very aware 24%

Creative Commons:      unaware 58%    somewhat aware  15%   aware            18%     very aware 9%

  1. Do you think you will use library databases and eBooks within the next three years to serve as course readings? Yes      64%     No  25%            Wish I Could  11%
  2. Do you think you will use Open Educational Resources within the next three years to serve as course readings?             Yes      51%     No    35%            Wish I Could  14%

A greater percentage of faculty , 64% to 51%, believed they would use library resources over OER within the next three years to serve as course readings.  Library resources have been around longer than OER and over the last 15 years a minority of faculty have taken advantage of the ability to post a persistent database article or eBook link into their learning management system course module (Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas). I predict as awareness of OER becomes more prevalent, faculty will opt for OER. The 2014 Babson Executive Summary of the faculty survey concluded, “faculty are not aware of open educational resources and OER is not a driving force for faculty decisions about which educational materials to adopt.” (Babson 2014 p.2)

84% of the TMCC faculty was: either not aware of OER (36%), heard but do not know much (42%), or were not sure how they could be used (6%). The Babson survey revealed that 74% of faculty was not aware of OER and 10% were somewhat aware for 84% (Babson p.18). Not surprisingly, the TMCC and national faculty percentages match.  The Babson survey also revealed that, “awareness of OER is not a requirement for adoption of OER. More faculty are using OER than report that they were aware of the term OER.” Claiming “decision are often made without any awareness of the specific licensing of the material, or its OER status.”(p.2)

This is evident in the TMCC faculty survey with online video materials being used regularly by 52% of the faculty and occasionally by another 35%. I must confess when seeking materials for the Women in Art and Iberian History courses the Babson statement, “decision are often made without any awareness of the specific licensing of the material, or its OER status,” personified my gathering of  online resources.

As a free resource movement, emphasizing sharing, Internet based, faculty accessible, LMS linkable, containing specific licensing, the future in educational resource is OER. Spreading OER awareness should be a top priority and an academic service division, or two, should be appointed to communicate the message widely through campus newsletters, professional development sessions, webinars, all faculty podcasts, and presentations at division or department meetings. At many community colleges, this task has been assigned to the library. The library and distance instruction should co-chair this endeavor, one to identify available resources and copyright, the other to ensure successful LMS launching. Adoption say belongs exclusively to faculty and must be respected.

  1. Do you believe that you will work by yourself over the next three years to discover supplemental or replacement materials to the textbook? Yes            56%     No   40%    Wish I Could  4%
  2. Do you believe you will work with a librarian during the next three years to uncover library database articles or eBooks to add to course content?  Yes  72%      No  23%   Wish I Could  5%
  3. Do you believe you will work with a librarian during the next three years to discover appropriate Open Educational Resources?                    Yes  61%            No  25%           Wish I Could  14%

The above three questions reveals that the majority of faculty believes they will personally (56%) and in tandem with librarians (72% for library resources, 61% for OER) explore other educational resources. Again, time and awareness are the prohibitive factors. Over the last few years faculty have been requested to do more committee work and assessment work than in the past. This has seriously affected their ability to search and adopt OER or library resources. As such, adding the OER/library resource task to the faculty annual plan may accelerate the adoption/adaption process. As the Babson Executive Summary acknowledged, “awareness and adoption of OER has yet to enter the mainstream of higher education.” (Babson 2014 p.2) At TMCC, time has become a fundamental issue for professional development, as witnessed by 14% of faculty responding Wish I Could.

  1. Do you believe that within the next ten years the textbook publishing industry will be shaken up significantly by faculty adapted, edited and created Open Educational resources?   Yes        86%

Our faculty clearly stands with the notion that the OER movement will significantly shake textbook publishing. A few faculties at TMCC will lead the charge, math, English and humanities are currently achieving this with self-published textbooks. According to studies, the highest inflation for any consumer product has been in the cost of textbooks. Some quotes have it at 800% over 30 years. Textbook publishers seduce faculty with test banks, ancillary resources, ability to integrate seamlessly into a LMS, and self -marking programs. All this is inherent in many of the OER textbooks produced by faculty and offered for free online and at nominal cost for printing. One instructor noted that students learn better through a hard copy. OER is not exclusive to online access as will be demonstrated in the resource section of the study.

  1. How would you rate the ease of searching for educational resources for your courses?

             Very Difficult  2%        Difficult  33%     Easy 48%       Very Easy  15%                 Don’t Need To  2%

63% of the faculty responded that locating educational resources for their courses was either Easy (48%) or Very Easy (15%). 35% felt it was either Difficult or Very Difficult. Time must be the significant factor in settling for a textbook. 91% of faculty surveyed did agree that their textbooks cover the course content. On the other hand, 80% are in opposition to its pricing. Again, the Babson Executive Summary states, “the most significant barrier to wider adoption of OER remains a faculty perception of the time and effort required to find and evaluate it.” In the Babson study, the ease of finding OER material was rated Difficult or Very Difficult by 38% of the faculty. Likewise, 27% of faculty found traditional resources as being Difficult or Very Difficult to find. (Babson 2014, p.2) Finding the best textbook can nearly be as daunting a challenge as OER. As such, the library and Distance Learning can post an annotated web page index to providers of OER textbooks to facilitate an easier and less time-consuming process for faculty.       

  1. What are most important deterrents to the use of library online resources in your courses?

Time 24

Knowledge  9

Too hard to find what I need      7

Too difficult to use        5         

Not knowing about permission  5

No comprehensive catalog of materials  4         

Not enough resources for my subject  4 

             Not current  2

Lack of technical/research/admin support on campus      2         

Too difficult to integrate  2

Not effective at improving student performance  2                     

Not high quality 1

  1. What are most important deterrents to the use of open educational resources in your courses?

Time    19

Knowledge  11

Too hard to find what I need      9

No comprehensive catalog of materials  6

Not knowing about permission  6

Too difficult to integrate  6

Not enough resources for my subject     3

Not high quality              3

Lack of tech/research/admin support on campus 3

Too difficult to change or edit  2

Not current  2

Too difficult to use        1                     

Not effective at improving student performance  1                     

Lack of test bank 1

For both questions 23 and 24, these resolvable issues should not be time consuming for librarians and Distance Ed staff.  Given winter and summer breaks, both staffs could delve deep into creating a guide to available resources for numerous disciplines. Again, this is the new collection development, but instead of being assignment focused it is course focused based upon saving students money, augmenting retention, furthering semester course load, and embracing student success.

Two further important points made by the Babson 2014 faculty study are:

  • Faculty judge the quality of OER to be roughly equivalent to that of traditional educational resources. 75% rank OER as the same as or better than traditional resources.
  • Faculty appreciate the concepts of OER. OER does not suffer from any string objections or entrenched opposition groups. When presented with the concept of OER, most faculty say they are willing to give it a try.

(Babson 2014, p 2)