Institutional and technological barriers to the use of open educational resources (OERs) in physiology and medical education.
Open educational resources (OERs) are becoming increasingly common as a tool in education, particularly in medical and biomedical education. However, three key barriers have been identified to their use: 1) lack of awareness of OERs, 2) lack of motivation to use OERs, and 3) lack of training in the use of OERs. Here, we explore these three barriers with teachers of medical and biomedical science to establish how best to enhance the use of OERs to improve pedagogical outcomes. An online survey was completed by 209 educators, many of whom (68.4%) reported using OERs in their teaching and almost all (99.5%) showing awareness of at least one OER. The results suggest that key problems that prevent educators from adopting OERs in their teaching include suitability for particular classes, time, and copyright. Most (81.8%) educators were somewhat, very, or extremely comfortable with OERs so there is no innate motivational barrier to adoption. A lack of training was reported by 13.9% of respondents, and 40% of respondents stated that there was little or no support from their institutions. OER users were no more comfortable with technology or better supported by departments but tended to be aware of a greater number of sources of OERs. Our study illustrates key opportunities for the expansion of OER use in physiology and medical teaching: increased breadth of awareness, increased institutional support (including time, training, and copyright support), and greater sharing of diverse OERs to suit the range of teaching challenges faced by staff in different subdisciplines.