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Jessie Ball duPont Library

Open Educational Resources and Affordable Textbook Alternatives

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are openly-licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes - without cost or access barriers. Open educational resources include textbooks, full courses, course materials, modules, streaming videos, tests, software, study aides, games, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. (source: Hewlett Foundation)

"An Introduction to Open Educational Resources" by Abbey Elder  (3:46)

The 5R Permissions of OER

The term "open educational resources" describes a copyrightable work that is licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

  • Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  • 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)
  • Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • 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)
  • 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

The 5R Permissions of OER was created by David Wiley and published freely under a CC BY 4.0 license at http://opencontent.org/definition/.

What is the difference between OA and OER?

Open Access (OA) and Open Educational Resources (OER) are closely related. Both are freely available with no paywalls

  • Open Access generally refers to ebooks and scholarly articles that are freely available from publishers.
  • OER refers to teaching and learning materials (textbooks, question sets, materials in the public domain, and other course supporting material) that are free and open with a creative commons or similar license for anyone to reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute.