Some of the fundamental questions asked in the environmental scan survey included the ones listed below:

  • If you are not currently using OERs, would you consider doing so?
  • If not, can you elaborate? (Select all that apply).
  • If you would like to consider using OERs for your classes, how might the UCSB Library help you? (Select all that apply.)

A resounding 85% of faculty said they would consider using OER, with only 14.9% responding that they would not consider using them. The 14.9% respondents can potentially be strategically engaged to see if there are ways they can be supported if they re-consider using OER for their courses. The positive response rate by faculty willing to consider adopting OER use for their courses is reassuring. The library should proactively reach-out to the faculty who are interested in considering OER and find out what type of support they might need to get started.

Some of the faculty who would not consider using OER shared the reasons below:

  • “Assigned materials are already inexpensive”
  • “Lack of time to investigate alternative materials”
  • “Materials for classes are not available through OER”
  • “Not sure what is available”
  • “Would like to use my own ideas and resources rather than pre-fab materials”
  • “Retiring in less than 1 year”
  • “If assignments are available online so will be “solutions”. I rather tailor my assignments so that each year they differ enough so that it is more difficult to submit online available “solutions.”
  • “I design my own courses and do not rely on prepackaged materials. The materials I assign are already inexpensive.”
  • “The idea of assigning pre-made quizzes, etc doesn’t fit with my pedagogy.”
  • “Only use textbooks for 1 class –and it was the first of its kind. There’s some really bad free material online that doesn’t get at issues of race, gender, etc”
  • “The textbooks used for OERs are books that publishers found they can no longer sell. In other words, these books are of such low quality that they have to be given away for people to read them.”
  • “Not aware of OER”
  • “Some OER materials are not appropriate for the class I think I already assign OER materials but am not familiar with the categorization, so not sure.”
  • “Use OER in one of my classes, but not in all of them”

The respondents gave lack of time to investigate alternative materials as the top reason for not considering OER. Some responses pointed to online having “bad free” materials, while others indicated that they were not sure of what was available. Some of the responses indicate minimal knowledge of what OER are. Thus, this is an indication of a need to provide faculty with OER awareness training workshops. The responses to the question below indicated a need for more information on what OER are.

If you would like to consider using OERs for your classes, how might the UCSB Library help you? (Select all that apply.)

Graph showing the responses to how UCSB Library might help faculty considering using OER.

Seventy-eight precent of faculty would like the UCSB Library to provide information to learn more about OER and how to find them, while 41% asked for workshops and training. Almost 70% want examples of how OER are being used by other faculty. The data indicates that a larger percentage of faculty who responded to the survey are interested in learning more about OER. The library should take this opportunity to determine how faculty might be supported in adopting OER as an option to traditional learning resources. Faculty who responded seem empathetic to the plight of the students. According to Lederman, “The pandemic also appears to have greatly increased instructors’ sensitivity to their students’ situations and challenges, giving them (often literally) a glimpse into their homes and their personal lives.” Thus, this is an opportune moment for the UCSB Library to investigate how faculty might be supported to adopt OER.

When asked the question below, faculty gave various responses, with some pointing to the crucial role the library played in helping them acquire teaching resources. One faculty member responded thus:

Without the library’s support, I would not be able to use the textbook for my class. The librarian found HathiTrust for me, which I believe is an OER. Again, that is limited because it only allows access by one student at a time, and I have approximately 600. Now individual chapters, one at a time, are posted by the library in Course Reserves and students in the US can rent or purchase through our campus bookstore” (Survey Respondent, 2021).

The library plays a fundamental role in supporting faculty with OER adoption. This support includes providing information on what OER are, sharing with faculty different OER databases, and information on platforms one can use to publish new OER. The UCSB Library has taken the major first step of putting together the Open Educational Resources guide. The guide was curated to give instructors, students, and staff background information on what Open Educational Resources are, why it is crucial to consider them as an affordable option for students’ course materials, where to find some, and the types of open licenses.

The final question on the survey was, “The library is interested in pursuing more OER adoption at UCSB. Please share your thoughts about the library’s role and any other comments you might have.” The responses varied as indicated by some faulty highlighting the role of the library in supporting teaching and learning.

  • “Development and collaborative creation tools are very important. I am writing a chapter for an OER, and am a peer reviewer of other chapters. The system we’re using is very cumbersome. Many former and older colleagues at UCSB have (co-)authored commercial textbooks; support for younger faculty to author OERs would be great! This topic intersects with myriad issues in instruction and learning.”
  • “The main issue I would urge the library to take into consideration is that faculty have constrained and limited time and resources to teach. Currently, of course, we are teaching remotely, which requires far more work to be accomplished with essentially the same resources. UCSB has been generous in sharing many pointers to resources for remote instruction, very few of which address the core challenges involved. Access to instructional resources is probably among the least significant issues I have encountered. Students are savvy, and often have ready access to textbooks through online sources. In my current class, I have access to numerous problems and exams, as do the students. These materials can rarely be used in assigned work in engineering classes without invoking a host of other issues. For these and other reasons I can’t go into here, I’m skeptical that OERs would significantly help the situation. What would, for example, help would be if more TAs were available to be assigned to the courses we teach. However, this is mostly impossible at present, so we do what we can.”
  • “I think the library staff should actually talk with faculty [about materials we use in our courses]-maybe even observe a class. [A few of the questions don’t seem to get] at one of the key things about why faculty are in our jobs–for some intellectual creativity and love of learning we want to help facilitate in students, not a cookie-cutter model.”
  • “I think this is a good thing!”
  • “I teach literature and want my students to be able to annotate the materials we read. Do OERs allow this without students purchasing extra software?”
  • “Continuing support for OA initiatives and support for discipline-specific student research.”
  • “I would like to make my own materials (that I have created) available online for free, as OER’s.
  • “What is OER? Hard to answer these questions without knowing what OER(s) is/are.”
  • “This is a great direction for a research university when more open resources mean better teaching for our students and better research for ourselves. Personally, I wish Oxford Scholarship Online can be available.”
  • “Without the library’s support, I would not be able to use the textbook for my class. The librarian found HathiTrust for me, which I believe is an OER. Again, that is limited because only allows access by one student at a time, and I have approximately 600. Now individual chapters, one at a time, are posted by the library in Course Reserves and students in the US can rent or purchase through our campus bookstore.”
  • “Excited to learn about this. Thanks!”
  • “Whatever you do, please don’t make it a video!! I’m happy to read but I won’t watch.”
  • “I’ve used open textbooks for Math 2AB (from OpenStax), but for Math 6AB (this quarter’s courses) we have department recommended/required texts. For homework we use WeBWorK, a free system from the Mathematical Association of America.”
  • “The book I used for Spanish is not free, but the one I use to teach Portuguese is an open and free book and it’s a good one, but not as good as the Spanish book. I wonder if there’s any grant or resource from the library we can use to improve our materials and make it free.”

From the responses above, one can see some variations in the way faculty understand what OER are and how the library can support them in adopting them for their students’ learning needs. However, the responses are an indication that opportunities exist for the UCSB library to engage faculty on OER initiatives, educate them on what these resources are, where they can be found, how they can be published, and how students can be engaged in the process.

While some faculty are using OER, the data gathered through the survey indicate that they are very few. The majority of the faculty respondents do not use OER. However, those faculty respondents who are not familiar with OER are willing to learn about these open resources and would look to the library for support. The UCSB Library can engage faculty to assess the form of support they might need to embark on OER initiatives they might be interested in. Faculty can be supported in varied ways to adopt OER for their teaching. This support can be in the form of a guide educating faculty what OER are, share information on Creative Commons Licenses, and a list of databases where they can consult and search for OER that might meet their teaching needs..

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) students will benefit from OER, open education policies, and open pedagogy. The faculty survey results show that a large percentage of faculty is open to the idea of learning more about OER as well as trying to use them for their teaching. The UCSB Library has an opportunity to engage faculty and look at various ways to support them adopting OER as an alternative to teaching materials.



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