A consortium of investors including the Bill and Melinda gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation have provided $US9.8 million dollars for a major initiative to create a library of open educational resources developed for a grouping of 38 community colleges but available to anybody to adopt, reuse, and repurpose.
This kind of initiative is exciting because although there are often culturally specific aspects of educational resources which may require further work before they can be adopted internationally, they are freely available and come with permission to do that, or any other kind of repurposing meaning that the impact will be far larger than just the US community colleges who wil benefit most immediately.
The direct benefits for students with limited financial resources are easy to quantify, for every course that is based solely on OER the cost of a text book can be deducted from the budget required to participate fully in that course.
…costs of textbooks are about $1,300 per year for a full-time community college student…
The ongoing and broader benefits of making a high quality and coherent collection of resources available freely are perhaps harder to measure but probably more important. Unlike funding for textbooks these resources will have multiple and can assist in delivering better educational outcomes globally.
David Wiley, whose organisation Lumen Learning is involved with the program has posted the press release and a list of the colleges and organisations supporting this effort: http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/4636