Skip to main content

Open Educational Resources (OER)

What Are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.

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.