Open educational resources (OER) are cost-free and openly licensed (Creative Commons) educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes. This definition comes from the Creative Commons organization.
In other words, OERs:
- Are teaching materials that can be shared freely, and
- Provide explicit permission to adapt the materials for customization
What’s the difference between learning materials we describe as “OERs” and learning materials we describe as “zero-cost” or “free?”
The critical thing that sets OERs apart from cost-free resources is that they have what is colloquially referred to as “open licenses.” This means the author/creator has chosen an intellectual property license to allow their work to be available for others to use, share, update, and even build upon.
This is achieved by authors selecting a Creative Commons license for their work. We’ll discuss Creative Commons licensing more in the next unit.
Are OERs online materials only?
No. OERs can be any type of educational content: a video, a simulation, an image, a blog, a podcast, a textbook, and any variety of textual material, like lecture notes. OERs are often delivered in digital formats online but they can be in print as well. The way to determine if a learning material is OER is by looking for the intellectual property license. If you see it has a Creative Commons license that lets you edit and remix the material to suit you, then you can call it OER.
View this 2 min. introductory video
View “Enhancing pedagogy via Open Education Practices” with Prof. Rajiv Jhangiani.
Hint: turn up the volume. Runtime: 8 mins. Transcript available as well.
Proceed to the next unit, Copyright & Creative Commons licenses.