Organizations conduct an environmental scan to better understand the processes, workflows, services, and policies required for a productive environment. Donald Hambrick, as cited by James Castiglione states that environmental Scanning (ES) is a crucial managerial tool used extensively in business and industry to assess and respond to external environmental change that may have a decisive impact on strategic business decisions, organizational performance and viability (Hambrick, 1981). Thus, through an environmental scan, an organization can get a grasp of the services and business trends in a specific industry. The information from an environmental scan can better equip an organization with tools to respond to emerging trends in an effective and strategic way that helps to boost services for that particular business.

This capstone project focused on an environmental scan conducted to get an understanding  of the prevalence or usage patterns, and familiarity of Open Educational Resources (OER) by faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara (USCB). Two surveys were conducted to assess OER trends at UCSB. The surveys were designed using Google forms and the survey questions comprised of multiple-choice and free-text questions.

  • Affordable Resources for Teaching
    • This survey was designed to assess faculty knowledge about OER, if they already incorporate OER in their teaching, or if they would consider incorporating OER. I also assessed if COVID-19 challenges have affected the way faculty assign teaching resources.
  • Affordable Resources for Learning
    • This survey was conducted for the students in the Promise Scholars Program. The Promise Scholars Program was designed to empower high achieving first generation students from low-income backgrounds. The “Affordable Resources for Learning” survey was designed to assess the challenges students encounter acquiring textbooks. The other goal of the survey was to determine if students are aware of alternative learning resources like OER, if they would consider advocating for OER, and in what ways.

This  capstone project was designed to assess how the UCSB community is aware of OER, to what extent OER are being used, as well as start conversations surrounding OER adoption by faculty. The adoption of OER by my institution is critical as one way to ensure equal access to research and learning resources for all students, especially those coming from marginalized communities.

This capstone project aligns with UCSB’s mission, which states that “Our students are full participants in an educational journey of discovery that stimulates independent thought, critical reasoning, and creativity. Our academic community of faculty, students, and staff is characterized by a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration that is responsive to the needs of our multicultural and global society.” For students to be full participants in an educational journey of discovery, access to affordable learning material should be prioritized. My institution is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). There are first generation students and transfer students, making the current context of COVID-19 an opportune moment to look at initiatives for adopting affordable learning resources like OER.



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