California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law a budget measure that provides millions of dollars to support the creation of openly licensed academic resources at the college level, in one of the most striking examples of a state throwing its weight behind the free, revisable materials.
The Democratic governor last week approved a higher education budget proposal that devotes $115 million toward reducing textbook costs and the development of open educational resources.
While the measure is aimed at the state’s postsecondary system, backers of open educational materials have told EdWeek Market Brief that it could benefit pre-college students in part by making those materials more freely accessible to high school students who are pursuing advanced content.
Open educational resources are typically defined as learning materials that are either in the public domain, or created on licenses that allow them to be freely shared and modified by users, including teachers and students.
They’ve become popular in some school districts, which have seen them as alternatives to commercial texts and a way to give educators more freedom to create resources tailored to their specific needs.
The California budget measure is the single largest investment by any U.S. state in open educational resources, said Cable Green, the director of open education at Creative Commons, a nonprofit that supports OER and creates licenses for their development.
The state’s action will allow California public colleges to continue to build degree and certificate pathways for students with no textbook costs, he predicted. And it will produce savings for students in not having to buy texts that are worth many times the state’s $115 million investment, he added.
“The impact of this open education investment will be massive,” Green said an email. He also said California’s new policy could inspire replication. “Any state can easily follow California’s lead and make similar investments.”
Photo: Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference in Oakland, Calif., on July 26. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)