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Open Educational Resources (OERs): What are OERs?

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are any type of educational materials that have an open copyright licence (such as one from Creative Commons), or they are part of the public domain and have no copyright. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation. Source

In practice, this means that there are a host of resources that you and your students can access for free and online. The emphasis on free and accessible resources for students is especially important in the current context of remote learning. At a time when purchasing e-books for the library incurs a huge cost and limited access, utilising OERs can ensure that every member of your class can access the resources they need without any barriers. 


Source: OER Postcard (Top 10 Myths) by Jenni Hayman, Olga Perkovic, and Nada Savicevic (eCampus Ontario)

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Why use OERs?

For faculty:

  • OER supports innovation, exposure and reputation
  • OER improves learner understanding and drives engagement with open content
  • OER can increase student accessibility

For students:

  • Using OER results in direct cost savings to students and/or institutions
  • Using OER brings in different perspectives and provides more variety for students

Licensed CC-BY; created by Alberta OER Initiative


What are OPEN Educational Resources?

What is an open educational resource compared to a traditional resource?

Open educational resources are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone and available under a license that allows users to use, remix, improve and redistribute. Sharing ideas and resources and collaborating on projects as part of a community is key to the Open Education movement. [From University of Texas Introduction to OER for Language TeachersCC-BY 4.0]

Educational resources that are Open provide users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the following 5R activities:

Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
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)
Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
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)
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)

[The 5 R's from Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources by David Wiley, published in his blog, licensed under a CC BY license]