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Open Educational Resources (OERs): OER Basics

This guide provides an introduction to Open Educational Resources, how to find them, and how to get started using them in the classroom.

What are Open Educational Resources?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines OER as: "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."



5R Activities

Licensing must allow users to:

  1. Retain:  Own and control your own copy of the resource
  2. Revise:  Edit, adapt and modify your copy of the resource
  3. Remix:  Combine your copy of the resource with other material to create something new
  4. Reuse:  Use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g. on the web, in a class)
  5. Redistribute:  Share copies of the original, revised or remixed copy of the resource with others

The above information is adapted from "Defining the 'Open' in Open Content and Open Educational Resources", originally written by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Benefits to Students and Instructors

Open Educational Resources can:

  • Save students significant amounts of money
  • Allow students access to essential information on the day a course begins
  • Give teachers greater flexibility to tailor course material to meet specific needs
  • Provide a wider audience for authors/creators
  • Empower marginalized groups by removing barriers to publication and dissemination of work


Adapted from the Educause article "Recognizing and Overcoming Obstacles: What it Will Take to Realize the Potential of OER," published July 12, 2021 by Julie Irvine, Royce Kimmons and Jacob Rogers, licensed under a Creative Commons BY 4.0 International License.