Incentives and Disincentives for the Use of OpenCourseWare


  • Anne M. Arendt Utah State University
  • Brett E. Shelton Utah State University



OpenCourseWare, open educational resources


This article examines Utah residents’ views of incentives and disincentives for the use of OpenCourseWare (OCW), and how they fit into the theoretical framework of perceived innovation attributes established by Rogers (1983). Rogers identified five categories of perceived innovation attributes: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability. A survey instrument was developed using attributes that emerged from a Delphi technique with input from experts in the OCW field. The survey instrument was sent to 753 random individuals between 18 and 64 years of age throughout Utah. Results indicated that the greatest incentives for OCW use were the following: (a) no cost for materials, (b) resources available at any time, (c) pursuing in depth a topic that interests me, (d) learning for personal knowledge or enjoyment, and (e) materials in an OCW are fairly easy to access and find. The greatest disincentives for OCW use were the following: a) no certificate or degree awarded, (b) does not cover my topic of interest in the depth I desire, (c) a lack of professional support provided by subject tutors or experts, (d) a lack of guidance provided by support specialists, and (e) the feeling that the material is overwhelming. The authors recommend that institutions work to transition some OCW users into degree-granting paid programs as well as adopt a marketing campaign to increase awareness of OCW. Additionally, OCW websites should make their content available to recommendation engines such as ccLearn DiscoverEd, OCW Finder, or OER Recommender and should reciprocally link to one or more of these sites.

Author Biographies

Anne M. Arendt, Utah State University

Anne Marie Arendt is currently the Web Resource Director at Utah Valley University. She has a Doctorate of Education from Utah State University, a Master of Business from University of Minnesota, and Master of Science from Walden University.

Brett E. Shelton, Utah State University

Brett E. Shelton, assistant professor of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences at Utah State University, has a Ph.D. in Educational Technology from the University of Washington. He uses a variety of mixed-method research approaches to study vision, perception, cognition, and the design and assessment of innovative technologies for learning. Other interests include immersive and interactive learning environments, data visualizations, open education, instructional simulations and educational gaming. He is the director of the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning whose mission involves extending educational opportunity to all those who desire it, including the building of hybrid open coursework to maximize accessibility of educational resources.



How to Cite

Arendt, A. M., & Shelton, B. E. (2009). Incentives and Disincentives for the Use of OpenCourseWare. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(5).