With ever-increasing demands being placed on our education system, including new skill sets that need to be taught to create a pipeline that can fill 21st century jobs, we must figure out how to make high-quality education more accessible to more people without overburdening our existing educational institutions. The Internet, and the platforms, tools and programs it enables, will surely be a part of the answer to this challenge.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are one piece of the solution. OER are teaching and learning resources that anyone can share, reuse and remix. As part of our ongoing commitment to increasing access to a cost-effective, high-quality education, we’re supporting the OpenCourseWare Consortium — a collaboration of higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating OER — in organizing Open Education Week 2012, which begins today.

An example of OER in action is OpenStax, a recent non-profit initiative of Rice University and Connexions to offer students free, professional quality textbooks that meet scope and sequence requirements for several courses. They believe that these books could save students over $90 million in the next five years. Non-profit isn’t the only model for open education. Flat World Knowledge has built a business around OER by providing free online access to open textbooks, then selling print-on-demand copies and supplemental materials.

We’ll be acknowledging OER week through a panel event in Washington, DC, and over on our +Google in Education page, where we’ll be posting articles, sharing stories and interviews about the benefits of open education resources. Opening these resources to everyone can improve the quality of education while getting more out of our investments in educational resources. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating Open Education Week. Go to openeducationweek.org to learn more and get involved.