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Open Educational Resources (OER)

What Are Open Educational Resources?

Creative Commons defines OER as teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities– retaining, remixing, revising, reusing and redistributing the resources.

Source: The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation

Why Use OER?

  • Use OER to lower costs of class materials for students
  • Adapt, update or correct materials as needed to suit your requirements
  • Choose from a variety of learning objects, materials and technologies based specifically on your course objectives
  • Incorporate interdisciplinary perspectives that might not be offered by a typical textbook
  • Collaborate and network with colleagues around the globe on creation, adaptation and use of OERs

What Makes OER Open?

There is some disagreement on what makes a learning object, textbook or other educational resource "open." Some people equate "open" with "free", but there is more to it than that.

A truly open resource is one that you can not only access and use but one which grants you permission in perpetuity to use it in a variety of ways. The key elements that make a resource truly open are referred to as the 5Rs, and they include:

  1. Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse - the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Learn More

Thanks to:

Portland Community College Library and Jen Klaudinyi for making their excellent OER guide shareable via the CC BY Creative Commons license. This guide borrows extensively from that work.