The authors discovered that, when implementing OER resources, there was not necessarily a positive impact on student success versus traditional, print textbooks. The authors looked at course grades, passing rates, and withdrawal rates. They found no difference for continuing students but some positive increase in grades for new students. Their research implied that demographics and education backgrounds had a far more profound impact on these measures of student success.
In my reading of this article, I could think of two major implications for adopting OER.
1. Just because OER is "free" does not mean that it comes with no cost. Most OER resources are only available digitally. To access those items, students need access to a computer, internet, and possibly a printer or other peripheral. Those items are not free. So, the content may be free, but the access is not. Thus, students who could already afford traditional, print textbooks could still afford OER. Students who are unable to afford traditional, print textbooks may still have trouble affording OER due to the cost to access the material. The socioeconomic background of students still plays a profound role in equitable access to education.
2. OER comes with a learning curve. Educators and learners all need to have to adapt to these new tools and resources. As with all new things, one has to spend time and practice with OER. Educators need time to evaluate and integrate the resources. Students need time to figure out the best way to access and use this new form of textbook.
Article Citation: Winitzky-Stephens, J. R., & Pickavance, J. (2017). Open Educational Resources and Student Course Outcomes: A Multilevel Analysis. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(4). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i4.3118