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International Journal of Open Educational Resources

The International Journal of Open Educational Resources (IJOER) is a bi-annual, open access, double-blind peer-reviewed academic publication sponsored by the American Public University System (APUS) and the Policy Studies Organization. The aim of IJOER is to provide a venue for the publication of quality academic research with an emphasis on representing Open Educational Resources in teaching, learning, scholarship and policy.

Call for Papers

Current Issue: Volume 3, Number 2 – Fall/Winter 2020

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Melissa Layne


3 Questions for an OER Leader | Featuring Rory McGreal

by Melissa Layne

Dr. Rory McGreal is a professor at the Athabasca University and Chairholder of the UNESCO/International Council for Open and Distance Education in Open Educational Resources. He is a professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Athabasca University—Canada’s Open University, based in Alberta, Canada. He is also the Director of the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI); Editor of the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL); and founder of the OER Knowledge Cloud, which received an award of excellence from the Open Education Consortium. Formerly, he served as the Associate Vice President Research. He has received lifetime recognition awards from the Open Education Consortium, the European Distance Education Network, and the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education.

The Development and Implementation of Missing Tools and Procedures at the Interface of a University’s Learning Management System, its OER Repository, and the Austrian OER Referatory

by Christoph Ladurner, Christian Ortner, Karin Lach, Martin Ebner, Maria Haas, Markus Ebner, Raman Ganguly, Sandra Schön

To enable broad access to education and generous use of educational resources, Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) also relies on Open Educational Resources (OER). This article describes the technological developments and processes that enable teachers at TU Graz to use their own learning management system (LMS) for the publication of OER. The article describes how interfaces and processes have marked educational resources of TU Graz with metadata to offer them to a broad public via the university’s own OER repository and via the Austrian OER portal of the University of Vienna. Only appropriately qualified lecturers at TU Graz are authorized to use the new OER plug-in. The article concludes with recommendations for projects in OER infrastructure implementations.

Evaluation of the UNESCO Recommendation Concerning Open Educational Resources

by Stephen Downes

Open Educational Resources (OER) “are learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others” (UNESCO).

In November 2019, UNESCO adopted a resolution on OER that had five objectives:

  1. Building capacity of stakeholders to create access, use, adapt and redistribute OER;

  2. Developing supportive policy;

  3. Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER;

  4. Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER; and

  5. Facilitating international cooperation.

Overall this policy represents well the state of the art in OER and would serve to further the aims and objectives of open online education. Having said that, the document suffers from numerous cases of ambiguous terminology, some of it in places where serious misunderstandings could arise. The purpose of this article is to review this resolution, highlighting areas of ambiguity or where further discussion is needed in the OER community.

Towards a Working Definition of Open Pedagogy

by Alan Witt

This paper analyzes recent literature on or using the term “open pedagogy” in order to distill a working definition. The term is currently contested, and is discarded completely by some influencers due to a lack of definition and thus usefulness as a rigorous academic term. This study analyzes how researchers currently use the term in the literature, searching for commonalities, with the goal of proposing a synthesis that encompasses the majority of the field and can provide potential common ground for further research on the subject.

The result was a pool of 98 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, which were then scanned and classified to develop a taxonomy. The taxonomy was used to construct a working definition of open pedagogy as any pedagogy informed by the practitioners’ conscious identification with the open movement, open access, and open educational resources (OER). In effect, open pedagogy describes the interaction between the open movement and pedagogy, whereas open educational practices (OEP) and OER-enabled pedagogy describe the actual practices arising from that pedagogical approach.

A Qualitative Analysis of Open Textbook Reviews

by Olga Belikov and Merinda McLure

Open textbooks are a type of Open Educational Resource (OER). They present educators with an alternative to commercial text-books, afford students and educators permissions granted by open licenses, and reduce student costs. The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine how educators evaluate the quality of open text- books. We analyzed 954 educator reviews of 235 unique open text-books. American postsecondary educators authored the reviews between April 2014 and March 2017 and the Open Education Network (OEN; formerly the Open Textbook Network, and openly published the reviews in the Open Textbook Library (OTL,, unedited and with Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licenses (CC BY 4.0). Overall, reviewers found the open textbooks to be of sufficient quality for use. The reviews provide insight into educator concerns and interests regarding the quality and characteristics of open textbooks and may support peer educators’ consideration, and authors’ and publishers’ creation and revision, of open textbooks.

Evaluation of Open Educational Resources Among Students in Blended Research Methods and Statistics Coursework

by Lindsay A. Phillips, Laura S. Gelety, and Lisa A. Hain

This article presents relevant research and a preliminary investigation of Open Educational Resources (OER). The authors of this study utilized OER to replace a traditional textbook in a two-course blended research methods and statistics sequence for working adult undergraduate psychology students. The authors aimed to consider student satisfaction with OER, and more importantly, to see if OER produced different grades when compared to prior course sections taught with a traditional textbook. Twenty students consented to participate in an online satisfaction survey. Qualitatively, participants reported that OER were concise, relevant to coursework, applicable, and had strong visual presentations. Quantitatively, grades significantly improved following implementation of OER. Although grades improved when OER replaced a textbook, this finding should be interpreted with caution. Limitations of this evaluation include a small sample size and self-reporting biases. These results provide preliminary evidence that students may benefit from implementation of OER. However, ongoing research into the perceptions, challenges, and effectiveness of OER is necessary.

Exploring Faculty Perceptions of OER and Impediments to their Use: A Multi-Institutional Study

by Abbey Elder, Amanda Larson, Elaine Thornton, and Will Cross

Understanding faculty perceptions about Open Educational Resources (OER) is a vital step for those hoping to support the growth of OER initiatives at higher education institutions. Faculty members’ perceptions of OER often influence their interest in adopting open educational practices and their willingness to seek out sup- port from campus staff. To explore how faculty members across their four institutions feel about open education, the authors developed a survey to discover faculty members’ (1) perspectives on, (2) barriers to, and (3) beliefs about OER use. The survey corroborated past research findings that faculty often have difficulty finding time to locate and evaluate OER, and that there is a need among the academic community to better compensate educators for their work developing open content. More notably, the authors discovered that faculty who are aware of library support services and other institutional OER initiatives are more engaged in open educational practices and willing to explore OER, regardless of their prior experience with open education.

“Open”-ing Up Courses for Diversity and Deeper Learning

by Marcos D. Rivera, Kaity Prieto, Shanna Smith Jaggars, e alexander, and Amanda L. Folk

Universities increasingly require students to enroll in diversity coursework, which is positively associated with a range of academic and social outcomes and psychological wellbeing. However, these courses can be challenging for both students and faculty to navigate. For institutions to effectively engage diversity on campus, attention must be paid to pedagogical and curricular transformation—not only in stand-alone diversity classes, but in major-specific coursework as well. This conceptual paper explores the benefits of using open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP), in combination with the Hewlett Foundation’s Deeper Learning framework and empathic scaffolding, in promoting social justice and equity in courses by diversifying curricular content and enhancing students’ learning and skill development. Pedagogical and curricular examples from instructors’ diversity initiatives in two academic fields, drawing from a larger study on OER creation and adoption, are shared as a potential reference point for faculty interested in implementing similar practices.

Comparative Analysis of an Open Educational Resource Textbook and Commercial Textbook on Student Outcomes in an Online Nursing Course

by Jamie Murphy and Nancy Winters

There is a growing body of research on the benefits of using open educational resources (OER) in higher education, and their impact on student outcomes. However, there is only one study on outcomes data related to the use of OER in undergraduate online nursing education.

This study aimed to determine if there was a difference in undergraduate nursing student outcomes for courses utilizing a teacher-developed OER textbook compared to courses utilizing a commercial textbook (CT). A retrospective grade review study design was used to identify discussion forum, assignment, and final grades for all students enrolled in an online nursing course. The sample included 160 students; 84 from seven sections that utilized the teacher-developed OER, and 78 from six sections that utilized a traditional CT. Descriptive and bivariate analysis found statistically significant differences in mean scores for one of three assignments in the course (p = .04, d = .33), with the OER scores (M = 89.46) being higher than the traditional textbook group (M = 85.70). For the remaining assignments, there was no statistically significant difference in assignment (p < .05), discussion forum (p < .05), or final grades (p < .05).

This study addressed the current gap in knowledge related to outcomes when using OER in online undergraduate nursing education courses. Based on the results of this study, the use of OER offered similar outcomes compared to the CT.

Overcoming Textbook Access Barriers in an Introductory Psychology Course: An OER Study at a Hispanic-Serving Institution

by Adam John Privitera

The high cost of college textbooks is an access barrier for students to overcome during their pursuit of a college degree. Perhaps most at risk are community college students, an older, more diverse, and lower-income population in comparison with their university peers. Recently, community colleges have considered replacing traditional, commercially produced textbooks with free open educational resources (OERs). In this work, two aims are addressed. First, a small-scale investigation of the need for a low-cost textbook alternative was conducted in an introductory psychology course. In response to the finding that over a quarter of students could not afford the course textbook, a psychology OER was adapted from existing resources and piloted in three sections of this course. The second aim was to assess the impact of this OER textbook. Findings from this second survey found that the psychology OER was easy to use, was high quality, and supported students in their understanding of course content. Students also reported that the money saved from not having to buy a textbook made taking the course easier. Together, these findings support that OER textbooks are suitable replacements that can reduce the financial burden on low-income students and support them in the achievement of their academic goals.

Moving Towards an Open Educational Resources (OER) Pedagogy: Presenting Three Ways of Using OER in the Professional Writing Classroom

by Sarbani Sen Vengadasalam

Open Educational Resources (OER) are changing the face of education. This paper offers some locations where OER may be found before discussing the challenges of using OER in writing courses. An outline of OER’s pedagogical use, best practices, and possible parameters for OER evaluation are proffered. After offering a proposed checklist/rubric to aid educators in deciding on the usefulness of OER, the article describes three ways of interfacing with OER in writing classes in general, and business and technical writing classes in particular. Based on teaching experiences at three institutions, the paper is an expansion of my 2019 presentation at the New Jersey Writing Alliance conference.

Meta-syntheses of OER Transition in Online Higher Education

by Michele Wells, Robert Jesiolowski, Jeanelle Verwayne, Jessie Pablo

This article is a meta-analysis of research on the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) in educational communities. OER’s are free educational resources that are openly available on the internet for faculty or student use (as cited in Annand, 2015). According to Senack & Donahue (2016) the cost of textbooks can cause an un-due burden on students and hinder their educational experience. OER’s are given consideration and in use in some educational environments as a means of lowering textbooks costs for students. This article further addresses research regarding student and faculty response to the use of OER’s in the higher education milieu. Research demonstrates a divide among students, i.e. some students that appreciate the open availability of OER’s, but others who prefer printed materials for their educational experience (Brandle et. Al, 2019). The research also speaks to faculty perception regarding the adoption of OER’s. Faculty seek institutional support through provision in their schedules for time and investment needed to fully implement OER’s (Annad, 2015). The authors provide research that indicates the importance of faculty being educated on the use of these resources and given consideration in the application of their use. The article finally reports the results of the use of OER’s in educational communities.

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Volume 3, Number 1 – Spring/Summer 2020

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Kristina Clement, Samantha Peter, Hilary Baribeau & Melissa Layne


3 Questions for an OER Leader | Featuring Brittany Dudek

by Hilary Baribeau

IJOER’s OER & Beyond Moderator, Hilary Baribeau, sat down with Brittany to glean her thoughts on COVID-19’s impact on students and instructors. To prevent further spreading of the virus, stay-at-home orders across the globe have forced higher educational institutions to rapidly convert face-to-face courses to a fully online learning format. Experienced in online learning, Brittany shares who instructors should contact first when designing their online courses.

Accessible Open Educational Resources and Librarian Involvement

by Silvana Temesio

In this article, we consider the situation of open educational resources (OER) in virtual environments, taking into account accessibility aspects. We propose the utilization of accessibility metadata through a process in which students and teachers participate in making OER more accessible. This accessibility 2.0 process is a collaborative one that adds metadata to OER in order to make the journey to and from repositories an iterative process of adaptation and improvement.

Bad (Feminist) Librarians: Theories and Strategies for OER Librarianship

by Jessica Yen-Ping Dai, Lindsay Inge Carpenter

As more academic libraries recognize the potential of  (OER) initiatives to impact students’ ability to save money and transform pedagogical models to support student learning outcomes, these institutions may develop pilot programs to test the viability of open educational practices. However, if these institutions use a neoliberal mindset in which libraries are encouraged to “do more with less” or when large projects fall under “other duties as assigned,” questions about the additional labor these librarians undertake remain unaddressed. This article examines OER labor practices by exploring pedagogical models and using a critical and intersectional feminist lens to provide concrete ways for librarians doing OER work to advocate for themselves.

Understanding the Impact of OER Courses in Relation to Student Socioeconomic Status and Employment

by Kim Read, Hengtao Tang, Amber Dhamija, Bob Bodily

The purpose of this study was to measure efficacy of Open Educational Resources (OER) on student academic achievement as well as student perceptions and use of OER, specifically among students of low socioeconomic status (SES). The authors of this study collected achievement and demographic data from students enrolled in 10 sections of an undergraduate course at a private, four-year not-for-profit institution in the Pacific Northwest. 

Emotional Labor in Open Access Advocacy: A Librarian’s Perspective

by Elizabeth Batte

Emotional labor has become a hot topic among academics and with good reason. Emotional labor can be invisible to supervisors but often leads to preventable burnout, depression, or anxiety. This article aims to identify what emotional labor looks like for OER advocates with a focus on librarians, the consequences of extensive emotional exertion, and solutions for the advocate and their supervisor on how to manage emotional labor productively.

Librarian Advocacy for Open Educational Resource Adoptions and Programs

by Megan Dempsey, Alejandra Nann

Academic librarians are resource finders and are always available and ready to assist faculty and students with research help. Now, with the rising cost of textbooks across the country, movements have developed to help students save money through textbook affordability initiatives and open educational resources (OER). This article will address various scenarios and challenges that librarians may face when discussing different options for faculty and stakeholders on campus. It will also provide examples of ways librarians can collaborate with faculty and others in educating them on the purpose of OER and how to incorporate these free, high-quality resources into their curriculum.

A Narrative Review and Conceptual Analysis of OER Perception Studies: Implications for Developing a Situational Scale for Faculty Self-Efficacy

by Teri Oaks Gallaway

A narrative literature review of faculty perceptions of open educational resources (OER) led to the development of an instrument to measure faculty OER self-efficacy. Through the evaluation of extant literature, three central faculty considerations related to ideological, material, and support barriers and motivators were identified. The research examined the empirical literature on faculty perceptions of OER, including the barriers and motivators that are considered. The self-efficacy research of Bandura (Bandura 1977, 2006; Bandura, Adams, and Beyer 1977) was considered as a lens to examine issues that may prevent faculty from attempting to use OER or cause project abandonment when coping skills to address known challenges are lacking.

Open Education Librarianship: A Position Description Analysis of the Newly Emerging Role in Academic Libraries

by Amanda C. Larson

According to the latest Babson Survey, Freeing the Textbook: Educational Resources in US Higher Education, “faculty awareness of OER has increased every year, with 46 percent of faculty now aware of open educational resources, up from 34 percent three years ago” (Seaman and Seaman 2018). While open educational resources (OER) gain traction with faculty who are looking to lower costs for their students and re-engage with their pedagogy, academic libraries are creating a variety of open or affordable textbook programs to help increase the use of OER or low-cost materials as replacements for high-cost traditional materials. Some libraries are creating specific positions to support these initiatives that aim to help faculty who want to adopt, adapt, or author OER. As more of these roles emerge, it raises questions about what the field perceives as the role of an Open Education or OER librarian, and the support that libraries provide OER initiatives. To explore these concerns, I collected position descriptions for librarians whose role it is to support OER initiatives into a corpus. I applied deductive thematic analysis to code it while investigating four main questions: 1) What inspires academic libraries to hire OER-related support? 2) What skills do they anticipate applicants to possess? 3) Where do these positions fit within the organization chart of the library? 4) Is there a standard scope of work that emerges from the corpus? In addition to these four questions, this research also explored the expectations for librarians in these roles to change faculty’s perception of OER through outreach and if they are expected to run burgeoning grant initiatives to launch adoption, adaptation, or authoring efforts at their institution.

Perceptions and Practice of Openness Among Academic Librarians

by Mary Jo Orzech, Samuel Abramovich

Librarians from a multi-institution, public higher education system were invited to participate in an online survey to assess their current practices in support of open access (OA) activities and their attitudes and behaviors related to the use of open educational resources (OER). This descriptive, small-sample survey was conducted after the first year of a multi-million dollar infusion in state funding to “move the dial” in textbook affordability using OER. The results provide insight into librarians’ perceptions of the support for, adoption of, and usefulness of open activities. Open-ended qualitative responses related to the sustainability of an OER program complement and provide additional narrative for discussion. Findings indicate that after the first year of increased support, some librarians are deeply involved in OER activities, while the majority are still in the early stages of learning about OER and are not yet comfortable with offering OER assistance to others. Based on the survey results, a number of innovative ways that librarians are infusing components of openness into their work are described. Suggestions identified relate to additional recognition and rewards for instructors and librarians, training and education, and administrative, staffing, and financial support. The developmental life-cycle for implementing change and measuring impact is also discussed, leading to a call to move forward toward more open pedagogical practices. Challenges are noted and suggestions offered for improvements in OER programs. The study concludes with how other libraries can use these results to inform plans for further adoption of open initiatives at their institutions.

Beyond Saving Money: Engaging Multiple Stakeholders is a Key to OER Success

by Jacqueline DiSanto, Denise Cummings-Clay, Sherese Mitchell, Madeline Ford

This article addresses how the mere development of open educational resources (OERs) and the financial savings are not enough to support OERs as means to academic success. The transition from for-pay textbooks does not end with the adaptation, adoption, or creation of open-access resources; it must also provide broad-ranging support provided for multiple campus stakeholders. This should include, at minimum, comprehensive professional development for academic and library faculty concerning (1) how to review and revise OERs after their initial implementation; (2) training students to be actively engaged in their learning; (3) partnering library and academic faculty to grow, sustain, and expand an OER initiative; and (4) defining academic freedom and accessibility through an OER lens.

Collaborative Partnerships Between State Agencies and Institutions of Higher Education: Working Together to Save Students Money through OER

by Phill Johnson, Josh Hill & Sandra Vigilant

Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) recently collaborated with the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) and the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) to engage in two Open Educational Resources (OER) projects designed to educate higher education faculty and staff and to provide affordable access to education for students in Alabama. This article highlights the two grant projects the authors spearheaded, and their impact and relationship with the statewide OER initiative focused on education, promotion, and content development over the course of a year. The first project was a statewide OER workshop the AUM Library hosted. This workshop brought together speakers and researchers from the national and local OER movement, who educated students, faculty, and staff from Alabama institutions about OER. The second project involved the creation and publication of the first open textbook published on the newly formed statewide Alabama OER Commons.

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