May 25, 2022

Research Article: “A Survey of OER Implementations in 13 Higher Education Institutions”

The following article was published in late 2019 by the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL).


A Survey of OER Implementations in 13 Higher Education Institutions


Rory McGreal
Research Fellow at Contact North/Contact Nord
Athabasca University


International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL)
DOI: 10.19173/irrodl.v20i5.4577

From the Introduction:

Institutions in many jurisdictions are in the process of implementing Open Educational Resources (OER). This short paper is based on a report commissioned by Contact North/Contact Nord as part of their Pockets of Innovation series to better understand the impact of OER implementations at diverse institutions.

The investigation looks into 13 different OER implementations at the postsecondary level: three community colleges and one university. Four are in the United States; three universities and one Indigenous college in Canada; and five international universities – in Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Southeast Asiai.

The format of the investigation followed a standard five-point inquiry model:

  1. Opportunity: Why did they decide to implement OER?
  2. Innovation: What did they do?
  3. Benefits: What were the outcomes of the intervention?
  4. Challenges: What were the problems in the implementation?
  5. Potential: How do they see the future of the project?

The data collected consisted of researching relevant papers and soliciting opinions from lead participants in OER implementations. All information was taken directly from telephone interviews with a local reporter or by studying the documentation that was available either in articles or on websites. Points not stated by these reporters were not necessarily missing from their implementation, but they were not highlighted in the reports. The only consensus found among the different implementations was on the cost savings OER provided for students and/or the administration, with no other generally agreed upon points in the five areas of inquiry. As well, there were no other consensus points among the institutions in Canada, the United States, and the five international institutions.

Cost savings for students was the only agreed upon consensus (12/13 institutions). The lone outlier was an institution (Athabasca University in Canada) that included course material costs in the tuition. This institution reported on significant savings for the institution. Seven other institutions also reported cost savings over and above those of the students.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.