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Open Educational Resources (OER)

OER FAQs

What are OER?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are materials used for teaching and learning that are freely accessible and openly licensed. The term "open educational resources" was first coined in 2002 at the UNESCO Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries. OER includes a range of digital media that includes: open courses, learning assessment tools, streaming videos, software, and textbooks. OER are often licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses, or a similar open license. These licenses are less restrictive than traditional copyright licenses and allow professors to share and modify materials to fit the needs of their class.

Are OER the same as Open Access scholarship?

Open Access generally refers to research outputs that are distributed online and free of cost. Both types of materials are similar in how they are accessed and distributed, but open educational resources cover a wider range of materials used for teaching, including syllabi and videos, whereas open access generally refers to research and scholarship.

If I can get an article or eBook through the library, is that an OA or OER?

The library does index some Open Access databases, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals. However, materials the library pays for through a subscription or other paid licensing model are not considered open resources. This is because they are not able to be shared beyond the users of the institution that pays for the subscription. You may want to combine library subscription materials and open resources when replacing your course materials—your course would not be fully OER, but the materials would still be free at the point of access to the students.