Open Educational Resources, or OER, refer to any teaching and learning materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open licence, such as a Creative Commons Licence, or GNU General Public Licence that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution with no or limited restrictions.
OER Can Be: Full courses, learning objects, tests or any other tools, materials, or techniques for use in teaching, learning, and research.
The “5 Rs” is a framework that encourages educators to capitalize on the unique rights associated with open content. These rights include the ability to:
These rights, or permissions, are made possible through open licensing. For example, Creative Commons open licences help creators of OER retain copyright while allowing others to reproduce, distribute, and make some uses of their work.
Below are four key categories of resources that are often considered to fall outside the definition of what is truly OER. Of course, the best mix of materials to meet any given set of learning outcomes will vary, and may include a combination of OER and the materials listed below. The key is knowing which resources will best meet your objectives for instruction, and for learners.
Through open licensing, the mission of the OER movement is to encourage the full range of the “5 Rs” permissions of use (see prior tab). Some argue that unless an open licence allows for adaptations, then the resource is not truly OER.
The image below positions Creative Commons Licenses - Opens in a new window on a spectrum from more to less open. As depicted, resources that are licensed ND (No Derivatives), are in some cases considered not to be OER.
Attribution:The Six Creative Commons Licences image is a derivative of an image in Keynote Slides (November 2014) - Opens in a new window, by Cable Green, licensed under CC BY 4.0.
All the available resources on the web that you may have access to, but that are not in the public domain, or do not carry a Creative Commons licence or other open licence, are not OER.
A library’s subscription-based resources (journals, videos, and other materials), while accessible to students and faculty, are also not OER. This is because their use in education may be limited by licence agreements.
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Open access is an important concept, which is related to – but distinct from – that of OER. Open access typically refers to research publications of some kind released under an open licence that allows for their free access and use (definition from Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources, 2015).
Open access publications do not usually allow for adaptation and remixing. While open access articles are freely accessible, authors may retain their copyright and/or assign rights to publishers or users, so permission may be needed for copying and adaptation.
More information about Open Access:
For faculty, OER often begins with a need to fill content gaps, or to identify enhanced or replacement resources for a course. The following list of steps illustrates a typical OER development process to consider as a starting point.
Below is a quick start kit of initial activities and competencies that libraries may consider as they begin their OER journey--with the recognition that many libraries will not have the resources to support OER in each capacity.