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Open Educational Resources (OER)

For faculty and student use to find open access materials and open educational resources.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium - digital or otherwise - that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation, and redistributions by others with no or limited restrictions. (From The Flora and William Hewlett Foundation, "Open Educational Resources")

Open Educational Resources are NOT the same as information found on the open web. In addition to being completely free for users, Open Educational Resources must be appropriately licensed for others to use them. Most OERs are licensed under a Creative Commons License, and most permit modification as well as reuse.

The terms "open content" and "open educational resources" describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like "open source") that is either (1) in the public domain or (2) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

  • Retain: make, own, and control a copy of the resource (e.g., download and keep your own copy)
  • Revise: edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource (e.g., translate into another language)
  • Remix: combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new (e.g., make a mashup)
  • Reuse: use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g., on a website, in a presentation, in a class)
  • Redistribute: share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others (e.g., post a copy online or give one to a friend)

From David Wiley, "Defining the 'Open' in Open Content and Open Educational Resources"

Three pillars of Open Educational Resources are the legal provisions and provide the basis for using materials in the creation of open educational resources:

  • The public domain: works out of copyright and information not subject to copyright law
  • Creative Commons licensing: provide broad use of copyrighted materials subject to certain conditions
  • Fair use and other limitations and exceptions to copyright: legal rights to use copyrighted materials


Finding OERs

To find OER Resources in Google, use Advanced Search.

1. Go to this URL:

2. Search Terms can be typed in the top boxes. 

3. Go to narrow your results by area, then go to usage rights.

4. In the usage rights drop-down click on any of the following:  

  • not filtered by license
  • free to use or share
  • free to use or share, even commercially
  • free to use share or modify
  • free to use, share or modify, even commercially

Always verify on the resource if it follows the usage rights noted. Look for Creative Commons information. 


Portals and Hubs for Finding OER

Open Textbook Resources:

Open Courseware from Academic Institutions:

OER Implementation

How to adapt and create Open Educational Resources: