Educational resources are produced by expert educators, with publication and distribution functions outsourced to publishers, who can undertake the these processes more efficiently than universities can, especially in the print environment.
The internet provides a means for universities to do this all themselves electronically, by simplifying and reducing production costs.
The traditional process is external to the university – educators write the content on their own time, for which the publishers reward them financially, and in turn publishers get their return on investment by charging the students and libraries.
This system could be changed by altering one element of the nexus. If universities provided the time and professional recognition/incentive for educators to develop these materials in-house (i.e. on university time), we could put an end to the cycle of dependence (universities dependent on publishers for content, publishers dependent on educators to write the content and on students to pay for the content). In doing so, we reduce one of the barriers to education – cost of accessing materials – and also the financial burden on libraries who have to ensure that there are sufficient copies of textbooks available for students who do not purchase personal copies.
OpenTab aimed to make formal university education more accessible for all students. This is important in a climate of pushing for increased enrolment of students from low-SES backgrounds.