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Open Eduational Resources (OER)

This guide provides information about finding and using Open Educational Resources, or OER.

What Are OER?

Colorful text that says OER

Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others.


What Aren't OER?

Just because a resource is free to view online does not make it an open educational resource. One of the most important aspects of OER is that they carry legal permission for open use, which is typically defined in terms of the 5R activities (Retain, Revise, Remix, Reuse, and Redistribute).

There are two ways that a resource may carry these permissions: 1) the work is part of the Public Domain or 2) the creator has assigned an open license. The most widely used type of open licenses are the Creative Commons (CC) licenses. (While there are a few alternatives to Creative Commons licenses, they are more commonly used with open software.)

Some examples of "free" learning materials that are not OER:

  • Library-subscribed resources
  • Open access articles and monographs (where some or all rights are retained)
  • Free web-based resources under copyright
  • Temporarily free resources from publishers during COVID-19


Image credit: Markus Büsges (leomaria design) für Wikimedia Deutschland. CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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