In combination with tuition and fees, textbooks can be extremely expensive. This can be even more so with students taking prerequisite courses or students majoring in the the health sciences, computer science, or social and behavioral sciences. According to U.S. News and World Report, "The average community college student spends nearly $3,000 on tuition and more than $1,000 for textbooks and supplies" Currently, more academic institutions and faculty recognize textbook costs as one of many barriers in higher education. That is, textbooks can be so cost prohibitive that some students will not purchase the required textbook for a course and will take fewer classes. To remedy this problem, there has been a rapid increase in faculty and institutional support in creating and using open educational resources.
The Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) define “An educational resource [as] one in which the creators have made sense of the existing public information and experiences of others to create something that embodies their own interpretation of that information and experiences in a structured way. An effective educational resource is one in which the structure or design of the resource is aimed at increasing the chances that inexperienced or less knowledgeable learners can both internalize that external knowledge and be able to demonstrate their own interpretation of that knowledge.”
Another definition comes from Andy Lane (2008). In "Who puts the education into open educational content?," open educational content is defined as “Largely digital stuff (music, images, words, animations) created by somebody who has attached an open license to it...the content is openly available (it can readily be found or discovered), is openly accessible (it is in a form in which others can take it away), and is openly reusable (the user can easily modify it and is allowed under the license to do certain things with it without having to ask the creator’s permission first)" ( The tower and the cloud, p.158.) This definition is one of many and leans more toward the creative commons and online learning objects than traditional education’s open educational resources, which would be created by faculty, and peer-reviewed.