O. Gröblinger1, M. Kopp1, C. Zimmermann2

1University of Innsbruck (AUSTRIA)
2University of Graz (AUSTRIA)
Faculty at Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in continental Europe have begun to explore the potential of Open Educational Resources (OER) regarding the opportunities to share and create learning materials without violating copyright law. Until now, the use and creation of OER were mainly observed from the perspective of faculty and instructors. Less attention has been paid to students, although OER are obviously made for them. Thus, this paper deals with the perspective of students on OER, detailing how students can benefit from OER and why they can and should play an important part in the context of OER creation.

The first section contains an introduction to the principles of Service-Dominant Logic (SDL), a theoretical framework based on insights from market and marketing research as well as economics and sociology. The main assumption is that all exchanges between actors in any given system are based on mutually beneficial services they provide for each other. This results in the cocreation of value for any product or service resulting from this exchange process, because value is ultimately determined by the beneficiary and not the producer.

Accordingly, even passive consumers contribute to the production process. From the SDL viewpoint, it can thus be argued that students who are using OER do in fact have an active role in the value creation of OER. Hence, the perspective of students on OER constitutes an important factor, especially with regard to their associated motivations and the obstacles they typically face.

In the second part, we will present results from a recent empirical survey conducted in Austria, which focused on the students’ perspective on OER. Based on this survey as well as an in-depth literature review, we arrive at the conclusion that an OER-friendly environment for students enhances the use and production of OER at HEIs, which benefits all involved parties in the long term. In the final section, we will then discuss some important parameters in the creation of such an environment, and propose a set of guidelines that will effect positive changes:
Students should receive more information about OER. If students receive more information about the use and production of OER, they are more likely to be interested in this topic, and to use and create OER themselves.

Students should be more involved in the creation of OER. In order to foster a change in the perception of the students’ role as passive users of OER, it is helpful to enlist them in the creation of OER. Consequently, the students themselves as well as other stakeholders will increasingly view them as active contributors.

Universities should emphasize the use and creation of OER. By acknowledging OER as an important component of innovative teaching strategies and encouraging lecturers to participate in their use and creation, HEIs can increase awareness among students concerning copyright issues, different licensing policies, and the corresponding differences in usage rights for educational material. This will likely affect students’ attitudes and motivations, and enhance their willingness to engage with OER.

We will also discuss some aspects for the practical implementation of these guidelines and outline necessary contributions from the main stakeholders (institutions, lecturers, students). Even though it is difficult to induce changes in a complex system of interests and conventions, we believe that this particular challenge is well worth addressing.