John Hilton III is one of the leading researchers in the area of efficacy of open educational resources (which includes open textbooks). Recently, John has been gathering empirical research on the efficacy of open educational resources compared to traditional publishers resources and publishing the studies at the Open Education Group website.
On May 5th, the Right to Research Coalition sponsored a webinar with John where he presented some of the findings comparing the use of open resources with closed resources.
Here are the slides from the presentation, and the archive of his webcast is below.
The “big picture” takeaway from John’s presentation came in a slide he shared early on (see above). The aggregate result of eight different studies he examined shows that 85% of students who use free open resources in a class do as well or slightly better than students using traditional publishers textbooks (updated May 14, 2015: See John’s comment below. The slide above shows student and faculty perceptions of performances. The empirical evidence from 10 research studies actually shows an even more compelling argument). Students performing as well or even slightly better while saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in textbook costs is an important finding. However, a John notes, this is just eight studies and there needs to be more research done to be able to see if this result can be replicated in other cases. But still, it does beg the question that if students are doing as well or even slightly better in classes that use free open resources, then how come we still are asking them to spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks when the outcomes are the same?
Here is the presentation.