OER: Student Savings and Adoption Rates

At the OpenEd Conference in 2013, Nicole Allen and I challenged the OER community to save students one billion dollars. Five years later, SPARC have collected a significant amount of data in order to answer the question of whether or not we have achieved that goal. You can read more about the data collection methodology and their ongoing work on this question here. SPARC have made the data available under a CC0 license and you can download them here.

As a brief summary, part of the data collection involved sampling the prices for required course materials across a range of material formats, including new print, used print, print rental, digital rental, and loose-leaf. SPARC started with a stratified sample of 120 US post-secondary institutions. Then, working from a pool of 20 courses for which adoptable OER exist, they randomly selected five courses to examine at each instituion and collected pricing information for all available formats from each campus’ online bookstore. Quite the task!

Below I present the results of some exploratory data analysis intended to answer basic questions. In this post I’ll “stick to the facts” and provide some color commentary in another post. (The source code used to perform the EDA below is also available for download here and released under CC0.)


The tl;dr


Exploratory Data Analysis

What types of institutions are represented in the data, and how many of each type are there?


Across all available course materials formats, how do the average prices of the most expensive options and least expensive options vary across type of institution?


Across all available course materials formats, how do the average prices of the most expensive options and least expensive options vary across courses?


How do the average prices of the most expensive options and least expensive options vary across TCM, OER Only, and OER Hybrid?