Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OER) are tools that educators can use to supplement or build a course. OER are free for anyone to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute and are a low-cost, tailored solution for faculty and students. This guide provides an overview of OER, how and why it is used, and resources to find OER for your courses. Please contact Faye Starman at (x5894) for more information.

Adopt, Adapt, or Create?

Adopt   If there are high quality, vetted Open Educational Resources available on the topic your course covers, and you do not feel the need to edit or otherwise alter them for use in your course, you might consider adopting them for use "as is." Adopting is the simplest way or including OER in your course, and the least time intensive.

Adapt/Build   If there are OER available on the topic your course covers, but they are dated, too broad, or contain information which is beyond the scope of your course, you may want to consider adapting the materials. After checking that the Creative Commons license attached to the materials allows for adaptation, you may choose to edit the materials to tailor them to your course.

Create   If there are no high quality OER available on your topic or if you have course materials which you believe are superior to the OER available to you online, you may want to consider creating or licensing your own course materials. Creating Open Educational Resources can be as simple as openly licensing and sharing a syllabus you currently use or sharing lesson plans on OER repositories like OER Commons.

OER Basics

Global Open Educational Resources Logo - White background variation

Why OERs

There are many reasons to adopt OERs in your teaching, but the one that receives the most attention is their potential to reduce costs for students. There is a lot of focus on the cost of higher education, and textbooks can add up to several thousand dollars per year to a student's bill. The links below provide some information about the cost of textbooks and some OER related solutions.

What are Open Educational Resources?

An open educational resource (OER) is any type of educational content that is made available for free and is openly licensed instead of being protected by the strict rules of copyright. Open licensing allows users of the licensed material to:

  1. Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)

  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 material 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

Textbooks are what immediately spring to mind when thinking of OERs, and they certainly are important, but any type of educational material can be an OER if it's free and openly licensed. Some examples:

  • lesson plans
  • syllabi
  • entire courses
  • multimedia (video/audio/images)
  • assignments
  • lectures
  • tests/quizzes
  • learning games

Benefits of OERs:

  • reduced/no cost for students
  • flexibility of format (digital/mobile/print)
  • easily and quickly updated
  • open licensing allows for flexibility of use on the instructor's part