Readers of this brief introductory section will find a broad overview of current political and economic contexts affecting higher education affordability, and a survey of literature proposing OER as one potential solution. Those readers new to OER will benefit from succinct explanations of what OER are, the problems they are meant to solve, and some documented solutions.
First, Yano and Myers introduce us to a shared discourse surrounding OER, highlighting the terms, actions, and responsibilities of OER practice. Learning this shared language is significant in the OER space when one considers that government entities, nonprofit organizations, and grassroots efforts have all contributed to the advancement of OER, in comparison to the language established publishers employ in related ventures, i.e. “digital direct” and “inclusive access” models. In order to move toward truly open resources, it is imperative that practitioners agree on the terminology surrounding the movement.
In the following chapter John Hilton then offers compelling evidence of the efficacy of OER in the classroom. Through his thorough review of studies about cost savings, student outcomes, OER use, and user perceptions have proliferated over the last decade, Hilton makes clear the strength of the relationships between student success and open access to educational materials.