Babson Survey Research Group Reports: the passage from MOOCs to OERs

Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman have been tracking for more than ten years the changes that are taking place in online education in the US. Their annual reports representing the Babson Survey Research Group fully register all major changes.

MOOCs make their official appearance as a special category in the 2012 edition entitled ‘Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Education in the United States’. The institutions already supporting them constituted a mere 2,6% and another 9,4% had plans to offer them in the near future. In the following edition (2013) MOOCs had become a distinct category on the content list. That section however, insisted that despite the hype the US institutions were still reluctant to implement MOOCs and the supporting ones had only slightly risen to 5%. In 2014 there was a further increase to 8% yet less institutions appeared keen on implementing a MOOC in the future, the report said. What is also significant is that MOOCs appeared in the table of contents but not as separate category. In the 2015 edition published in July 2016 MOOCs do not appear in the table of contents anymore.

What you do find, however, are OERs. The two authors claim that OERs were first introduced in the research in 2009 but were mentioned as such only in the 2014 report. Until then the authors refered to them as online offerings a term, however, that also included MOOCs.

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation. UNESCO Definition of OERs

OERs appear to have a better grasp with the academic community, although it is not very clear to most what they are about. Teachers and students still have a long way to fully comprehend what Open Textbooks and Creative Commons Licenses are, but OERs provide a solution far more viable than MOOCs. Cost has been a major concern in decisions regarding online education and a very important reason why the interest in MOOCs has declined.


In my previous post I argued on the importance of MOOCs and their contribution to online education. I still believe that their hype has contributed enormously to the developement of the current educational landscape. We wouldn’t be talking about OERs unless we saw all these courses get redesigned and reassembled to fit into this new media reality. This free access to organized material gave us the confidence with which we are now able to jump from this to that to connect stuff and create our own personal narrations.



All previously mentioned Babson Survey Research Group reports are signed by I. Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman and are available here. Image available here

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