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Open Educational Resources: OER

Defining OER

Open Educational Resources (OER) are "free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes.” They are part of a wider movement to provide alternatives to the restrictions of traditional publishing models.

Many types of educational content fall can fall under this category, but the two key components are: 

Free, meaning simply that materials that are free of charge. There are no associated costs with the item for the user, and institutions do not pay a subscriber's fee for access. 

Open, as in "openly licensed." When something is openly licensed, it means that the creator allows others to use and share their work, and potentially modify the content. Under traditional copyright, this type of sharing would not be permitted. Creative Commons Licenses are a way to extend more rights to users, in a sense "opening" the resource to others. See more about this topic in the following tab. 

Background readings

Below are a few articles that help to explain the concepts of Open Educational Resources. Also see the Further Reading section of this guide for more options. 

OER: 5 Common Myths

OER Mythbusting:  The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) provides context for some common myths surrounding OER.

  • Myth # 1: Open simply means free. 
  • Myth # 2: All OER are digital. 
  • Myth # 3: “You get what you pay for.”
  • Myth # 4:  Copyright for OER is complicated.
  • Myth # 5: OER are not sustainable.

Read the full text of SPARC's OER Mythbusting guide, here.