2021 OER Review Workshop Report

By | September 10, 2021

Open Oregon Educational Resources has offered open educational resource (OER) review workshops since joining the Open Education Network (OEN) in 2015. The OEN workshop model has two parts: a workshop presenting OER as a way to solve the problem of high textbook prices, followed by the opportunity for workshop participants to earn a $200 stipend to write a review of a book in the Open Textbook Library. Alternatively, workshop attendees can review OER or alternative course materials not available through the Open Textbook Library for a $300 stipend. The option to review non-textbook OER was innovated by Jennifer Lantrip at Umpqua Community College, and described in more detail in the article Extending Open Textbook Network Workshop and Reviews to Include All OER and Library Materials; these non-textbook reviews are collected in a folder in OER Commons.

84 OER review workshops have been offered in Oregon since 2015 with a total attendance of 1,254 participants by headcount. The cumulative data in Oregon show the effectiveness of this program: the workshops have resulted in an estimated $7,896,900 in student savings since 2015, representing $36.33 in student savings per program dollar spent. 978 unique instructors at 23 colleges and universities have attended OER review workshops and written 723 reviews, resulting in 381 redesigned courses.

By the numbers

2017 2019 2021
Total program costs $43,217 $119,798 $217,377*
Estimated student savings to date** $607,700 $2,383,200 $7,896,900
Estimated student savings per program dollar spent $14.06 $19.89 $36.33
Workshop participants who wrote reviews 71% 64% 55%
Workshop participants who adopted open textbooks 27% 24% 26%
Review-writers who adopted open textbooks 38% 38% 26%

*Open Oregon Educational Resources has paid $15,500 in membership fees and $201,877 in stipends to date.

**The OEN uses $100 as the per-student/per-course multiplier for savings estimates.

Even more data analysis

The OEN finds that instructors who write a review of an open textbook are likely to adopt the book in their classes. According to Dave Ernst, OEN’s Executive Director, historic data shows that 67% of workshop participants choose to write a review, and 67% of those review-writers indicate that they will adopt an open textbook. Based on these numbers, the OEN calculates that 45% of instructors who complete a workshop indicate that they will adopt an open textbook (45% = 67%*67%).

Oregon’s data shows a different outcome than the expected rate of adoption suggested by the national OEN data:

  • Out of the 1,254 workshop attendees by headcount, 689 wrote OER reviews (55%).
  • Out of the 689 review-writers, 182 adopted OER (26%).

The OEN’s survey response rate is not known. In Oregon, of the 987 instructor email addresses contacted (some unique faculty attend workshops via multiple institutions), 102 email addresses were no longer valid; 41% of the remaining workshop followups by headcount resulted in a response in Spring 2021. If the rate is calculated based on responses from valid email addresses, then 74% of responding review-writers, by headcount, adopted OER in their course. Neither method is perfect, but either way, Oregon’s adoption rate for workshop participants is lower than the OEN’s estimate of 45%: 55%*26%=14% and 55%*74%=41%. This difference may be because the OEN uses a survey to capture intent to adopt while Oregon’s data counts actual adoptions.

There are a few additional data points relating to review-writing that add context:

  • The 381 course adoptions were associated with 283 workshop attendees by headcount, 182 of whom wrote a review (64%).
  • 971 workshop attendees by headcount have not yet adopted OER for their course, 507 of whom wrote a review (52%). (Note: 381+971 is greater than the 1,254 workshop attendees by headcount because some instructors have taken multiple workshops that both did and did not lead to OER adoptions.)
  • 101 workshop attendees by headcount adopted OER without writing a review, meaning that 18% of non-review-writers went on to adopt OER anyhow.

One way to understand this data is that writing a review is a likely outcome for all workshop attendees, which increases awareness and involvement in the statewide OER program. Roughly one-third of workshop participants have done another activity with Open Oregon Educational Resources, such as attending a conference, joining a course redesign sprint, or receiving a grant. The workshop itself is also an indicator or generator of interest in OER, since non-review-writers sometimes go on to adopt OER.

Put simply, the ratio of $36.33 in student savings per program dollar spent is the highest of any kind of professional development activity that Open Oregon Educational Resources does. It’s clear that OEN membership and the workshop model are an effective use of statewide resources.