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Helping OER providers to better understand their audiences and their needs


Saylor Academy provides complete free, college-level courses presented similarly to enrollment majors at traditional U.S. colleges. Consultant subject experts and instructional designers create outlines for courses which are then populated with openly licensed content as well as bespoke material. Courses are peer-reviewed before release on a CC-BY Attribution Licence. Some Saylor courses are accredited but alternative assessments (such as badges) are also encouraged.

This case study originally appeared on the OER Hub website at http://oerhub.net/what-we-do/case-studies/

Saylor Academy

July 2013 – December 2014

One consequence of the Saylor open distribution model is that it can be hard to understand how the end user – typically studying privately – is engaging with their material. Through a programme of survey based research engaging with non-formal users of Saylor materials it became possible to have a clearer understanding of how these users compare with users of other repositories; what motivates their study; the impact on their learning; and how exposure to OER influences future behaviour. Our research showed that most of their users were well educated and interested in primarily interested in professional development. An unanticipated finding was a relatively high level of OER adaptation by these learners. This information was shared through OER Research Hub reports and academic papers as well as feeding into Saylor Academy strategy..


Farrow, R., de los Arcos, B., Pitt, R., & Weller, M. (2015). Who are the Open Learners? A Comparative Study Profiling non-Formal Users of Open Educational Resources. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning, 18(2). http://oro.open.ac.uk/4496

Presentation from Open Ed 2015 http://www.slideshare.net/robertfarrow/who-are-the-open-learners-a-comparative-study-profiling-nonformal-users-of-open-educational-resources