On August 4, 2015, a coalition of education, library, technology, public interest and legal organizations sent a letter to President Obama. “To ensure that the value of educational materials created with federal funds is maximized,” the letter reads, “We call upon the President to issue a strong Administration policy to ensure that they are made available to the public as Open Educational Resources to freely use, share, and build upon.”
The authors of the letter note that the government invests billions of dollars each year in programs that produce educational, training and instructional materials, yet these resources are not openly available to the members of the public who paid for them. Such resources could, if released, support efforts to make education more accessible and improve teaching and learning. They could also save students and the public large sums of money. The organizations point to several examples, including the British Columbia open textbook initiative, which has developed 60 open textbooks for the highest enrolled undergraduate subject areas and targeted trades and skills training areas. So far, the program has saved students between $540,00-$721,000 in textbook costs, a number that is expected to double next year.
Overall, the letter represents a growing emphasis on the value of open educational resources, an area that has been growing in BC with the open textbook initiative and at UBC with the growth of open teaching initiatives like Arts One Open.