You are Here: Home » About OER » Introduction


What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone to use and under some license to adapt, copy and redistribute. OER can include course syllabi, presentation slides, image collections, animations, videos, textbooks, research papers and self-assessments.

The term "open educational resources" was first adopted at UNESCO's 2002 Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries.

"OER" is largely synonymous with another term: Open CourseWare (OCW), although the latter may be used to refer to a specific, more structured subset of OER. An Open CourseWare is defined by the OCW Consortium as ‘a free and open digital publication of high quality university-level educational materials. These materials are organized as courses, and often include course planning materials and evaluation tools as well as thematic content.

OER have the potential to advance the delivery of education by increasing the availability of relevant learning materials, reducing the cost of accessing educational materials, and stimulating the active engagement of teaching staff and students in creating learning resources. The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement encourages the creation of free, high-quality content for community college courses to replace commonly used textbooks.  By promoting OER, community colleges can create sustainable academic resources for students and provide professional development opportunities for faculty.  A wealth of public domain and fair use learning materials are currently available via the internet that faculty can repurpose for use in their classes to replace some of the books required for purchase by students.



Other definitions of OER


OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

- William and Flora Hewlett Foundation:

Open Educational Resources (OER) describes any educational resources (including curriculum maps, course materials, textbooks, streaming videos, multimedia applications, podcasts, and any other materials that have been designed for use in teaching and learning) that are openly available for use by educators and students, without an accompanying need to pay royalties or licence fees.

- Neil Butcher, A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER)


Learn more about open education and open educational resources (OER) at the Creative Commons OER page.