Passive Resistance to OERs

Decorative: OER, "Open Educational Resources," the "O" shaped by a bendy pencil, the "E" shaped by two books lying on the side and viewed from the end


"Where Are All the Faculty in the Open Education Movement?" (online article) notes that there is "growing dissatisfaction of textbook costs and pedagogical concerns among faculty about outdated course materials" and asks, "[W]hy are are there so few [academic] practitioners actively involved in increasing open education?" 

A. Challenges

The author acknowledges that "open educational materials impact faculty and students alike, and many instructors are using these resources today," explaining that those who are not have several disincentives:

1. "[I]nstructor[s] [are] already focused on their current role."

  • "[S]taying on top of innovative teaching methods and adopting new course materials is not at the center of every faculty member’s work."
  • "[P]ublishing and other interests and professional duties [may] presen[t] obstacles to adopting OER" since "[j]oining a movement around open education ... won’t help in securing tenure."
  • "OER are not typically counted toward research requirements, because they are seen as lacking the vetting process that comes with, for example, peer-reviewed articles."

2. "[T]he fear of sharing among faculty"

  • "Even making something as simple as syllabi visible to the public can receive pushback."
  • "For faculty nervous about public backlash and scrutiny, sharing your course materials with the world can also be intimidating."
  • "The fear of sharing has been drilled early on in our careers, and faculty members are so cognizant of being rated and ranked and looked over that it’s affecting our ability to share what we know [to the public]."

3. "Openwashing" -- "the attempt to market a product as open source when it is quite the contrary"

  • "[P]ublishers ... adapted their products to be more affordable, but have been justifiably accused of engaging in deceptive marketing tricks to exploit OER."
  • "Faculty need to be aware of these misleading messages."

B. Responses

1. "Clearly communicate and evolve the message."

  • "Knowing the challenges that exist for instructors who use OER," this often falls to "non-faculty OER advocates such as librarians, policy advocates, administrators, instructional designers, edtech professionals and others."
  • "[O]ffer open education as one of several solutions to a problem that faculty have."
  • "Open education advocates who are not faculty should also attend discipline-specific academic conferences to spread the word about open education and create a stronger presence." 

2. "[H]ighlight ways in which faculty are already engaging in open-like practices."

  • This may include "collaboratively curating materials or sharing their work via blog posts."
  • "This helps to normalize 'openness' in academia."
  • "[C]reate more space and time for faculty to develop course materials and engage in teaching development" and for this "to receive better recognition institutionally."
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