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Usage Data as Indicators of STEM OER Utility

, , Florida State University, United States

Journal of Online Learning Research Volume 3, Number 2, ISSN 2374-1473 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA


A key component of online and blended learning content, open educational resources, (OER) are heralded in a global movement toward high-quality, affordable, accessible, and personalized education. However, stakeholders have expressed concern about scaling OER use due to a lack of means to ensure a fit between learner, resource, and task. Usage data, or “paradata,” such as reviews, ratings, views, downloads, favorites, and shares, may yield insight into the fit. We examined paradata from National Science Digital Library (NSDL), the largest extant accessible corpus, for the extent to which K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resource fit can be determined from user- and system- generated data. We conducted sentiment analyses of user reviews and correlations between the sentiment scores and data elements. Some relationships between NSDL paradata elements suggested aspects of resource fit. Despite prior research indicating that user reviews tended to be strongly positive or strongly negative, the results of this study indicated that educators left feedback that contained a blend of sentiments and that users usually downloaded resources they viewed. The results of this study suggest that while it is unlikely that educator feedback can currently be used to assess resource quality, with larger and more robust usage data sets, this area is a fertile area for further research into nuanced sentiment. We conclude with observed data trends and further research directions to inform online learning.


Mardis, M. & Ambavapuru, C. (2017). Usage Data as Indicators of STEM OER Utility. Journal of Online Learning Research, 3(2), 197-221. Waynesville, NC USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved September 20, 2019 from .


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