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Open Educational Resources

Information on OERs, Affordable Course Materials, and Creative Commons Licenses

What are OERs

"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" - UNESCO


  • Are of the same quality as traditional textbooks
  • May be peer-reviewed
  • Can include ancillary materials such as presentation slides, simulations, and assessments.
  • Free for the end users (This is important, as the rising cost of textbooks has a negative correlation with student success and retention rates).
  • Freedom to (do the 5R's): Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute
  • Encourages equity = equal access for all

Benefits of Using OERs

Adopting OER in your course can provide several benefits, including:

  • Promotes academic freedom by allowing for customization of course materials that best meet instructional needs
  • Improved student satisfaction with materials designed to help students succeed in their courses
  • Reduced or eliminated cost of course materials
  • Every student has access to the material on Day 1 of the course

OER allows us to (creatively) rethink the materials that we use for our course rather than rethinking our course around available textbooks.

The 5 Rs of OERs

The 5 Rs of OERsReuse: Use the resource in a variety of ways, as it currently exists.

Remix: Combine two or more OERs to create a content mashup.

Redistribute: Share the original, revised, or remixed OERs.

Revise: Adapt, modify, and improve the resources to fit your needs.

Retain: Make, own, and control your copies of the content.


Image Credit: "5Rs-7(transparent)", Making Open Educational Resources: A Guide for Students by Students is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 

Open Access vs OERs

  • OERs are always free but must be used with permission which is usually identified by a Creative Commons License. 
    • The license they are shared under allows others to update, alter, or redistribute without the need to gain permission from the copyright holder. (CC BY, CC BY-SA, CC BY-NC, or CC BY-NC-SA)
  • Open Access enables anyone to access scholarly publications and primary source materials released under an open license for free or at very little cost.
    • They are still free resources but they may have licensing that doesn't allow for adaptation (CC BY-ND, CC BY-NC-ND).