​OER Researchers Don’t Disaggregate Data on Diverse Students. Here’s Why They Should.

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Media Outlet: EdSurge
Manuela Ekowo wrote for EdSurge on how the promise of open educational resources may not be equal for disadvantaged or traditionally undeserved student populations.

With course materials averaging around $1,200 per year, many colleges over the past decade have adopted open educational resources (OER) to cut costs for students. Since then, a number of studies across many institution types have found that OER—freely available educational materials that can be downloaded, edited and shared—save money and show that students learn just as much using OER as with commercial textbooks. (One review offers evidence that students using OER as their primary course material sometimes perform better.)
This body of research is impressive, given the general dearth of research on and accounting for what students actually learn in college. Unfortunately, however, there is still a huge unknown about OER: We have not found if these materials foster similar learning outcomes for all students, especially traditionally underserved populations including low-income students, adult learners and students of color.


Manuela Ekowo was a policy analyst with the Education Policy program at New America. She provided research and analysis on policies related to higher education including innovations in higher education delivery, the use of technology, open educational resources (OER), and ensuring equitable outcomes for underrepresented students.