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Factors shaping lecturers' adoption of OER at three South African universities

Cox, Glenda; Trotter, Henry

The research presented here focuses on understanding the obstacles, opportunities and practices associated with Open Educational Resources (OER) adoption at three South African universities. It addresses the question: Why do South African lecturers adopt – or not adopt – OER? In trying to answer this, the authors also attempt to identify which factors shape lecturers’ OER adoption decisions, and how lecturers’ institutional cultures influence their OER use and creation choices.

This study employed a qualitative research approach through in-depth personal interviews with 18 respondents at three different universities which together broadly represent the characteristics of South Africa’s university sector. Unique analytical tools – the OER adoption pyramid and OER adoption readiness tables – were developed to help with analysing and synthesising the data.

Findings indicate that whether and how OER adoption takes place at an institution is shaped by a layered sequence of factors – infrastructural access, legal permission, conceptual awareness, technical capacity, material availability, and individual or institutional volition – which are further influenced by prevailing cultural and social variables.

This study has value and application for researchers and institutions pursuing an OER agenda, policy-makers seeking tools to assess OER readiness in institutional contexts, and funding agencies aiming to boost institutional OER engagement.

The dataset arising from this study can be accessed at:

Citation: Cox, G. & Trotter, H. (2017). Factors shaping lecturers' adoption of OER at three South African universities. In C. Hodgkinson-Williams & P. B. Arinto (Eds.), Adoption and impact of OER in the Global South (pp. 287–347). Retrieved from Corresponding author: <>
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