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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Definition of OER

Open educational resources (OER) are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes." — Creative Commons


This FAQ includes content that is adapted from SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition). Read their publication, OER Mythbusting, to learn about these facts in more detail.


Open access (OA) publishingOpen access publishing refers to making the fruits of scholarly research freely available to the public. It is an alternative that emerged in response to high subscription prices that publishers charge. See infographic on the differences between OA and OER.

Open licensing: This is the practice of using copyright licenses that expand rather than restrict the user's freedoms. Most educational works are licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Openwashing: This term was coined by Audrey Watters and refers to the practice of appearing to be open (the 5 Rs) for marketing purposes, while in reality continuing proprietary practices.

OER Rights

  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)
Infographic of the 5 Rs
The above image is from "Open Education: A 'Simple' Introduction" by David Wiley and is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Open Access and OER