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OER by Department: What are Open Educational Resources?

What are OER?

"The myriad of learning resources, teaching practices and education policies that use the flexibility of OER to provide learners with high quality educational experiences. Creative Commons defines OER as teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities – retaining, remixing, revising, reusing and redistributing the resources."

- Hewlett Foundation (n.d.)

Work in Progress

This guide is a work in progress. We invite you to send us feedback and suggestions, and please submit links to OER that you think we should incorporate in the guide.

5R's of Openness

What does it mean for a learning resource to be "open"? The 5R framework, developed by David Wiley, defines the major characteristics of "open" content.

  1. Retain: the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  2. 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)
  3. Revise: the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix: the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. 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)

This material was created by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at Clarifying and Strengthening the 5Rs.

An Introduction to OER

"An Introduction to Open Educational Resources" by Abbey Elder is licensed under a Creative Commons 4.0 International license.

Benefits of OER

  • Significant savings on textbooks
  • Course materials are accessible 
  • Materials are available before and after a course
  • Addresses barriers to student success, completion, and learning
  • Course content can be customised, updated, and shared
  • Wide variety of materials are available, including textbooks, videos, slides, test banks, and activities
  • Students can participate in creating course assignments and syllabi

Why use OER?

"A Review of the Effectiveness & Perceptions of Open Educational Resources As Compared to Textbooks" by Research Shots is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed).

Steps to Using OER

  1. Set aside time: Searching for OER takes time & persistence, just like research.
  2. Look at your current text: Is your current textbook available through the library databases?
  3. Locate an OER text: Check to see if a whole OER textbook already exists for your course.
  4. Browse open repositories: Browse several repositories to see what content is available
  5. Supplement: Look at your learning objectives and find different materials for different topics.
  6. Ask for help: Call a librarian to get help. You can do this at anytime!

"Six Steps to OER" by Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) Librarians, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license / Modified text from original by Lesley University Library.

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Related LibGuides

Content by Vancouver Community College Library is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License