35 Boston Consulting Group, “Open Educational Resources: The OER Ecosystem”

Read the article at http://goo.gl/F28ZeL


In late 2012, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, one of the major benefactors of the Open Educational Resource movement, commissioned the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to do an evaluation of the OER ecosystem in an effort to determine its current state and its progress toward mainstream adoption. The BCG compiled primary and secondary research, in addition to conducting extensive interviews of roughly 375 OER experts and participants, teachers and educators. The OER Ecosystem is the summary report of their findings.

Key Points

The key research components included reviewing the role of OER, the role of the teacher, and the level of disruption, contrasted with how OER enriches existing resources, how OER is used as primary material, and how OER helps “flip” the classroom. The overall trend is that OER has some green shoots beginning to sprout but more resources are needed in order for it to become mainstream.

  • OER is most commonly used in a classroom, with the teacher remixing and sharing content
  • OER is strongest in the higher ed arena, and in K-12 science and math
  • Quality material is hard to find and not packaged in a usable way.
  • The usage of OER is beginning to move into the mainstream, but the development is behind.
  • Procurement processes hinder OER
    1. Some states require physical textbooks
    2. RFP processes are lengthy and difficult
    3. Districts fear losing funding
    4. Cultural preferences exist for traditional materials

Confusion exists about teachers’ intellectual property rights. Do they have the authority and autonomy to share if they want to?
Why aren’t teachers using OER?

  1. Time to remix resources and logistics of getting someone to cover classes etc.
  2. Design knowledge

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the number one strategy you would employ to make OER more mainstream in K-12, and in higher ed?
  2. Which stakeholders are best positioned to escort OER into the mainstream population and why? Policy makers, administrators, educators, funders?
  3. Why is there more OER in K-12 science and math? Is OER in the arts an important area of focus? Why or why not?
  4. How does one unequivocally determine what the “best” OER looks like? For example, who decides which OER lesson on the Civil War is really the best? Explain how you arrive at your answer, and defend it.

Additional Resources





An Open Education Reader Copyright © 2014 by David Wiley is licensed under a Ontario Commons License – No Derivatives, except where otherwise noted.

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