What are Open Educational Resources?

Open educational resources (OER)...

  • Can describe any type of educational resource - textbooks, videos, labs, even entire courses!
  • Are usually created by educators, libraries, museums / archival organizations, government agencies, publishers, etc. 
  • Can be used and shared freely
  • Can be revised or remixed with other materials
  • Usually have Creative Commons licenses or are in the public domain

David Wiley, a long-time proponent of open content, is known for creating the 5Rs definition of OER:

Make, own, and control a copy of the resource (e.g., download and keep your own copy)
Edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource (e.g., translate into another language)
Combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new (e.g., make a mashup)
Use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g., on a website, in a presentation, in a class)
Share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others (e.g., post a copy online or give one to a friend)

Not all freely available materials are openly-licensed. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, a work is "under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form" - even if it doesn't have a copyright symbol or notice on the page.

All OER should have some sort indication they are openly licensed. This will usually take the form of a Creative Commons license.