Education is essential to advancing society. It’s how we pass down the wealth of human knowledge and equip the next generation of leaders, innovators and productive members of society. Our educational systems are built to provide every person the opportunity to build a better life—by turning children into citizens, learners into teachers, employees into skilled staff.

Expanding educational opportunities is more possible now than it has ever been before. Through the Internet, learners can find information instantly on virtually any topic, teachers can share their knowledge with students on another continent almost as easily as in their own classroom, and educational materials can be disseminated to a worldwide audience at virtually no marginal cost.

However, our systems for sharing information in education have not caught up with the potential of 21st century technology. Instead, the educational materials market is held captive by legacy publishing models that actively restrict the dissemination and innovative use of resources in a world that craves educational opportunities. Textbook prices have continued to rise rapidly, leaving too many students without access to their required materials. Digital offerings from traditional publishers come laced with access restrictions and expiration dates with little savings in return, and print editions are too often out of date by the time they hit the shelves.

For too long, our educational systems have operated with a fundamental disconnect between practices left over from the analog world, and the vast potential of technology and the Internet to support more affordable, effective teaching and learning. The movement for Open Education and OER seeks to close this gap.

The benefits of Open Education are clear.