Crossing the Chasm: A Case of Scaling Adoption of Open Educational Resources to the Early Majority

Crossing the Chasm: A Case of Scaling Adoption of Open Educational Resources to the Early Majority

Stephanie R. Bulger (San Diego Community College District, USA), Alma Correa (San Diego Community College District, USA), Amertah E. Perman (San Diego Community College District, USA) and Matthew Rivaldi (San Diego Continuing Education, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 35
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7769-0.ch010

Abstract

Due to the ongoing trend of increased higher education costs, state and federal strategies have been implemented in an effort to lower students' cost of college. One such strategy gaining nationwide attention is the implementation of open educational resources (OER) to lower the cost of textbooks. This chapter describes how a higher education institution can support and scale the diffusion of OER adoption by presenting a framework based on Everett Rogers's diffusion of innovation theory, with a focus on engaging the “early majority” in this process to sustain the innovation. The development of the framework and a case study of its implementation and evaluation within a community college district are presented to guide other higher education institutions in the scaling of OER adoption. The chapter also considers influences on the framework that constrain, accelerate, or support OER adoption, and presents implications and recommendations based on lessons learned.
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Introduction

Since 2008, public policy and millions of dollars from national and state funding sources have stimulated a movement toward greater college affordability (College Board, 2017). At the federal level, an expansion of Pell Grants and student-loan reforms have been components of a strategy to lower the cost of higher education and the stifling debt reported by news outlets (S.1136; U.S. Department of Education, 2018). Another strategy gaining attention over this period is lowering textbook costs. In 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act touted “textbook transparency” as one solution to the rising cost of higher education. Twenty-four state legislatures have passed policies resulting in funds to support low-to-no-cost textbooks for colleges and universities as a bold action to redirect a trend. Perhaps the boldest move at the federal level to date is the Affordable College Textbook Act (H.R. 3840/S. 1864), passed in 2017, and recent news of a $5 million open-textbook grant program passed by Congress, purported to result in an estimated savings of $50 million to students (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition [SPARC], 2018). One news report called this legislation a “landmark victory of the [open educational resources] movement” (Allen, 2018).

The drivers of this quest are the escalating costs of textbooks, and the large percentage of students in public higher education who are not purchasing them. In a 2016 textbook and course-materials survey of college students in Florida, 67% did not purchase required textbooks due to cost (Florida Virtual Campus, 2016). Policy efforts and institutional interest have generated community college and university projects to lower the cost of textbooks through open educational resources (OER).

One of the many ways to lower textbook costs is to adopt OER into the curriculum, which can lower or remove textbook costs using open- and shared-content licensing. Maricopa Community College exceeded a five-year goal of saving students $5 million by lowering textbook costs over five years through formation of a faculty-driven team, establishment of goals and standards, mini grants for faculty development of OER, membership in the California Community College Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) Consortium, and accessibility of OER in the learning management system (Open Education Consortium, n.d.). In 2017, Tidewater Community College reported that courses in degree programs labeled “zero cost,” or “Z degrees,” saved students $1 million in one year (Tidewater Community College, 2017).

While these success stories are inspiring, there remains little guidance for institutions on how specifically to go about scaling and sustaining OER adoption. This chapter presents a framework for institutions to use in planning and facilitating the scaling of that adoption.

Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is to provide guidance to higher education institutions by addressing one overarching question: How can a higher education institution support and scale the diffusion of OER adoption? The three objectives of the chapter are to:

  • Illustrate the primary components of a framework for the diffusion of OER adoption;

  • Contribute to a greater understanding of the influences on the framework that constrain, accelerate, or support OER adoption; and

  • Recommend ways in which a framework for the diffusion of OER adoption may be utilized.

The framework is presented through a description of its development and use within a community college district in California that sought to lower textbook costs for students by engaging a group of stakeholders, using the diffusion of innovation theory by Everett Rogers (2003). The case includes both real and fictional characteristics to present a comprehensive framework that may be analyzed for its implications.

The diffusion of innovation theory by Rogers (2003) identifies individuals who may use a particular innovation along a continuum as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, or laggards. In the theory, a gulf exists between the innovator and early adopter groups, and the early majority. The theory posits that once a critical number of the early majority adopters commit to using an innovation, the innovation has the potential to be sustained.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Implementation Stage: In the fourth stage of the diffusion of innovation theory, an individual uses and evaluates the innovative technology.

Confirmation Stage: In the last stage of the diffusion of innovation theory, an individual considers the continued use of the innovative technology.

Knowledge Stage: In the first stage of the diffusion of innovation theory, a potential user of an innovative technology becomes aware of the innovation and may seek out additional information.

Primary Stakeholder: An individual or group that can directly affect or be affected by an organization, and who actively seeks to participate in an organization’s activities.

Diffusion: The process by which an innovation is distributed over time among the participants in a social system.

Open Educational Resources (OER): Resources freely available on the internet under an intellectual property license that allows others to use or adapt the resources for educational purposes.

Innovation: A new idea, method, or technology.

Persuasion Stage: In the second stage of the diffusion of innovation theory, an individual formulates a positive or negative opinion toward the innovative technology.

Decision Stage: In the third stage of the diffusion of innovation theory, an individual engages in activities that lead to adopting or rejecting the innovative technology.

Secondary Stakeholder: An individual or group that indirectly affects or is affected by an organization, and that does not seek an active role in an organization’s activities.

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