Skip to main content

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Also referred to as Open Access Resources. This guide is intended as an central access point for liaisons to verify and update open access resources and to provide ready resources to map to subject or class guides.

Is It Still Under Copyright?

What is a Creative Commons License?

Creative Commons licenses provide a standardized way for authors and creators to grant the public permission to share and use their creative works. Creative Commons licenses mix and match the following elements:

Attribution (BY): Give credit to the original author Share Alike (SA): Distribute derivative works under the same license
Non-Commercial (NC):
Only use the work for noncommercial purposes
No-Derivatives (ND):
Only use verbatim copies of the work

Click here to Choose a Creative Commons License: A simple way to choose the Creative Commons license that is right for you.



May Institute

What are OERs?

What exactly are Open Educational Resources or OERs?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology: "Openly Licensed Educational Resources are learning materials that can be used for teaching, learning, and assessment without cost. They can be modified and redistributed without violating copyright laws". Part of OER is Open Data the Office of Educational Technology explains: "Open data is the idea that data should be freely available to the public—both technically and legally—to use and redistribute without limitation. When high-value data sets are publicly available practitioners, researchers, and the public can use the data to inform their work in classroom and communities across America".

UNESCO further defines some of the types of materials considered OER: "OER can include full courses/programmes, course materials, modules, student guides, teaching notes, textbooks, research articles, videos, assessment tools and instruments, interactive materials such as simulations and role plays, databases, software, apps (including mobile apps) and any other educationally useful materials".

For more definitions, you can look at, OER Commons, and Creative Commons has gathered a number of definitions of OER from different organizations.

How can I use OERs?

According to the Office of Educational Technology, Open data follows the following principles:

  • Public – available to all in accordance with the law and the Office of Management and Budget’s Open Government Directive.
  • Accessible – available to the widest range of users in a machine-readable format that is non-exclusive and usable without restriction.
  • Remixable – available under an open license that allows others to use, share, and add to data without restriction.

An article by David Wiley, published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at: Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources provides additional uses for OER: "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 in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 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)"