Open educational resources

OER are teaching and learning materials that are freely and openly available.

What are open educational resources?

OER are teaching and learning materials that are freely and openly available. They can be text documents, audio, video, multimedia, tests, software, learning objects or any other tool used for learning and teaching. The key is that they can be widely distributed and adapted with clear reuse terms, often under a Creative Commons licence.

Need help?

With courses being offered almost exclusively online, this could be a good time to use open educational resources (OER) to facilitate access to course materials freely, openly and legally. The Library is available to help professors find OER to replace print textbooks and other physical resources, whenever possible.
For assistance in finding suitable OER for your courses, contact [email protected]. Please provide an overview of the topics to be covered in the course and, if applicable, the title of the textbook usually assigned.
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What can be done with an OER? The 5Rs

  • Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  • Reuse - the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate)
  • Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new
  • Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others

Benefits of OER

  • OER are affordable for students, making education more accessible
  • OER allow you to customize and adapt to your context, providing a richer teaching and learning opportunity
  • Students can benefit from multiple learning styles because OER can incorporate various content formats (text, audio, video or multimedia) and interactive elements

How to integrate OER into teaching

  1. Find an existing OER: Use the resources suggested below to find out what currently exists.
  2. Adopt an existing OER: Either use it as is or adapt it to your particular context or course. Because OER can be adapted, you can add or omit information, examples, and so on. You can also create your own OER.
  3. Apply an open licence: Clearly state the conditions for reusing the OER that you have adapted or created by choosing a Creative Commons licence.
  4. Share and distribute your OER: Share your OER in distribution networks so others can use it.
  5. Reuse your OER: Use your OER in your classes year-after-year without needing to ask for permission.

Find OER

Here are some suggested OER repositories:



Open access books

Search tips:

  • Search by discipline or subject first.
  • If searching by keyword, start with broader concepts and then narrow down using discipline-specific terms and/or limiters available on the platform.
  • If available, use the “advanced search” function.

Confirm the conditions of use/licence/copyright status of the resource. Some of the suggested repositories include free digital resources that are not necessarily “open” (under a Creative Commons licence or in the public domain) for reuse or modification without permission. Not sure what is the copyright status of a resource you want to use? Email the Copyright Office at [email protected].

Creative Commons licences (CC)

You have access to six free licences to indicate which rights you wish to keep while communicating how members of the public can use your work without asking for permission. By choosing a Creative Commons (CC) licence, you retain your copyright but allow the public to share, remix and reuse the work legally without having to ask permission or pay additional fees, provided that the user complies with the conditions of the licence.

Creative Commons licences consist of two elements: the CC logo and icons representing a combination of conditions (which can also be represented by two letters).

Creative Commons licenses

ND licenses cannot be used for an OER. ND indicates that the user cannot make changes to the original version to incorporate it into a new resource. This condition goes against a central principle of OER, namely the opportunity to modify, remix, revise or adapt an existing work.

Learn more about licensing on the Creative Commons website.

The 5Rs are from David Wiley, “Defining the ‘Open’ in Open Content and Open Educational Resources,” published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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