Research Brief: Survey Results on Open Education Resources in Canvas LMS




OER Topic.pngWe reached out to get your views on Open Educational Resources (OER), your experience with their usability, and what you feel is essential to its future. As a token of our appreciation for everyone’s time and contribution, we are sharing this preliminary report of findings.  

In May 2024, the Academic Strategy team undertook a comprehensive survey on OER to gain deeper insights into the value and importance of accessible and innovative learning materials in contemporary education. Our primary objective was to understand the current landscape of OER usage within Canvas LMS and to identify the key challenges educators face today. We aimed to uncover the specific pain points related to the integration and utilization of OERs, such as issues with quality, adaptability, and alignment with curricular goals. Additionally, we sought to capture educators' perspectives on what is most crucial for the long-term success and widespread adoption of OER. By doing so, we hoped to gather actionable data that could inform strategies for improving support and tools for educators, ultimately enhancing the effectiveness and impact of OER in educational settings.





Screenshot 2024-06-10 at 10.14.37 AM.pngSo far, 114 people have completed the survey (thank you!). Among those who took the survey, we saw more coming from four-year colleges and universities but K - 12 and further ed were also well represented. 


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While the majority of participants came from instructional design or LMS administration, we also saw views shared by faculty/instructors, IT, and other admin roles as well. 





To be expected, the level of experience is skewed toward facilitative and active, people more invested in OER are going to be more invested in providing their views on the matter. However, the novice and consumer perspectives were equally valuable. We intend to continue to collect responses on these topics for the foreseeable future and hope more people with less experience will join the conversation. Efforts to improve OER adoption would prove successful if we see an increasing participation rate and an increasing skew toward Active. 

 Level of Experience



None: I've never used OER and have little interest in understanding more about it.



Novice: my awareness of and interest in open-use resources is limited, I'm unsure of where to find them, what is offered, and the ways I could engage.



Consumer: my awareness of and interest in OER is low, OERs are "nice to have," and my use largely centers around using the content rather than creating/sharing.



Facilitator: my awareness of and interest in OER is moderate, I'm the type of educator-user who is equally likely to use Kahn Academy, TED talks, or OER content.



Active: my awareness of and interest in OER is high, I engage with open education issues and advocate for OER use, I'm the educator-user who has adopted an openly licensed textbook, adapted it for my purposes, and/or contributed to it.






Resource Familiarity

In asking people to identify the resources they were familiar with, Khan Academy and TED Talks were the most recognizable OERs, with OER Commons coming in third. The widespread recognition of Khan Academy and TED Talks highlights their significant impact and reach within the educational community—these high-quality sources could help drive awareness and acceptance of OER.While Kahn, TED, and Commons were the top three, all listed were recognized by at least 10 people and other popular OER of interest included OpenStax and Merlot.

“What other open resources do you rely on?”


Value and Usability

People tended to agree/strongly (90%) that OERs are a valuable resource. Having them available in Canvas LMS and an interest in using them more were among the most agreed-upon statements. The significant interest in using OERs more suggests a readiness within the Community to adopt these resources more extensively, provided that the necessary support and infrastructure are in place to facilitate their effective use.  

Many said they would like to use OERs more, and most indicated that their biggest obstacle is a lack of one of our most precious resources—time.


“What prevents you from using it more?” 

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Faculty/instructors and administrators shared some common challenges, particularly in assessing the quality and aligning OER content with their needs. However among our faculty participants, the top challenges entailed identifying OER content that aligns with their approach, with many finding it difficult to determine the quality of these resources. Additionally, converting OER content for Canvas compatibility and modifying it to suit their needs are also substantial hurdles.Screenshot 2024-06-10 at 10.27.07 AM.png

From the administrator's perspective, they indicated their primary struggle was assessing OER materials' quality, accuracy, and relevance. They also encountered difficulties in modifying and adapting content to fit curriculum needs and identifying relevant content aligned with curriculum objectives.

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Their experiences are similar, but due to the nature of their roles, they differ in terms of specific tasks to complete with OER. Teachers found the initial steps and practical implementation more challenging, while administrators focused more on quality assessment and content alignment. These insights suggest the importance of tailored support to address the distinct challenges faced by each.


Participants indicated that reducing the time spent repackaging OER in Canvas LMS and having intuitive access to OER content are most important to them. The ability to automatically translate and represent content features within Canvas and having user-friendly search functionality are also significant.  Screenshot 2024-06-10 at 10.29.56 AM.png
While various aspects of OER integration are highly valued, the relatively lower rating for enabling students to self-direct is noteworthy. This could mean that the potential benefits of personalized and student-driven learning are not yet fully recognized, but it’s more likely that their promises might be getting overshadowed by their logistical and integration complexities. Enhancing support for personalized learning and the broader goals of OER adoption could effectively address both logistical needs and educational benefits.


This survey aimed to better understand the current landscape of OER usage in the Community, identify key challenges, and capture educators' perspectives on the future of OER.  We found that a high percentage of respondents (90%) agreed that OERs are valuable resources, and there is strong interest in using them more extensively, where resources like Khan Academy and TED Talks, with their significant impact and reach, could help drive further adoption. However, the primary obstacle preventing wider adoption is the lack of time.Both faculty and administrators face challenges with OER, particularly in assessing the quality and aligning content with their needs. Faculty members struggle more with the initial steps and practical implementation, while administrators see greater challenges in quality assessment and content alignment. But, again, it’s time—reducing the time spent repackaging OER in Canvas LMS and having intuitive access to OER content is of the highest importance.


The survey highlights a strong endorsement of OERs' value and potential, alongside significant challenges that need to be addressed to enhance their effectiveness and integration into educational practices. Educators are eager to use OERs more but need better tools and support to overcome obstacles related to time, quality assessment, and content alignment. Tailored support for both faculty and administrators seems pertinent when addressing their challenges and ensuring the successful adoption and utilization of OERs in the educational ecosystem.As we look ahead, your engagement and enthusiasm for OER are more important than ever. Your feedback and active participation in this journey are crucial. Please continue to engage, share your successes, and advocate for the widespread adoption of these invaluable resources. Your investments not only enrich the Community but also enable a more inclusive and innovative future in education.

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