This study investigates the experience of 148 students who used an open textbook in their upper-level Management Information Systems class. OER was adopted in response to more common student options to rent, buy used, or not purchase textbooks at all. Flat World Knowledge published the textbook used, and faculty made some modifications to the text: deleting unnecessary chapters and pulling in content from other open textbooks.
Analysis of survey results found that users’ satisfaction with the quality and usability of the open textbook was comparable to those of a traditional textbook. Because open textbooks (a) have great potential to lower the cost of higher education while still (b) delivering reliable content, the findings provide empirical support for the viability and reliability of open textbooks as alternatives to traditional student resources. Where some students might struggle the digital media constituting most OER, the largest burden falls to faculty whose adoption is limited to the small number of resources available and whose time must be allocated to revising materials.
The authors place valuable stress on the importance of supporting and involving faculty if the OER movement seeks to enrich and enhance education beyond simply trading out materials.