1 What Are Open Educational Resources?

1. OER Basics

Please begin by watch this brief, general introduction to OER:


Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely available learning materials that can be copied, edited and shared to better serve all students. For educators, this means that you may freely and legally use and reuse these materials at no cost, and without needing to ask permission. For students, this means that they can use the learning materials that you select or create at no cost.

In some cases, that means you can download a resource and share it with colleagues and students. In other cases, you may be able to download a resource, edit it in some way, and then re-post it as a remixed work. How do you know your options? Usually, OER are openly licensed (for example, via Creative Commons), to let you know how the material may be retained, reused, revised, remixed, and redistributed.

The Open Education movement is rooted in the human right to access high-quality education. This movement aims to reduce costs by providing access to openly licensed content. In addition, the movement aims to expand opportunities to participate in creating and sharing education.

Defining “Open”

The terms “open content” and “open educational resources” describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like “open source”) that is licensed to give users free and perpetual permission to engage in what are known as the 5R activities:

  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)

Watch this video for a more specific introduction to OER:

Page adapted from: “Digital Citizenship (Links to an external site.)” by James Glapa-Grossklag and Aloha Sargent for Online Network of Educators  (Links to an external site.)and “Introduction to OER (Links to an external site.)” by Rachel Arteaga and Suzanne Wakim. Both are licensed under CC BY 4.0 (Links to an external site.)

Video: “What is OER? (Links to an external site.)” by The Council of Chief State School Officers (Links to an external site.) is licensed under CC BY 4.0 (Links to an external site.)
OER Commons & Open Education (Links to an external site.)” is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 (Links to an external site.)

5R’s: This material is based on original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (Links to an external site.) license at http://opencontent.org/definition/ (Links to an external site.).

Video: “An Introduction to Open Educational Resources (Links to an external site.)” by Abbey Elder (Links to an external site.) is licensed under CC BY 4.0


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OER Subject Librarian Toolkit Copyright © by Jennifer Beamer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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