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Open Educational Resources (OER): What is OER?

Your guide to what OER is and links to find open textbooks and course materials.


“Open Educational Resources (OERs) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation.”

Source: UNESCO, “What Are Open Educational Resources?

The "5Rs" of Open Educational Resources

5R circle

OERs are licensed in such a way that enables adopters to utilize the 5 Rs:

  1. Retain - keep, make, own, and control copies of the content
  2. Reuse - use the content in a wide range of ways
  3. Revise - adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself
  4. Remix - combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new
  5. Redistribute - share copies of the original content, your revisions, and your remixes with others

Creative Commons licenses are often applied to OERs to license these rights to adopters.


Students save money: When it's a choice between eating and a book, you choose to eat. OER are free, so students don't have to buy, rent, or borrow them.

Pedagogical freedom: You choose, you modify, you create. 

Save time and energy: Adapt existing resources to fit the needs of your classroom, your students, and your goals.

Immediate and lasting access: Access from day one, for as long as needed.

Free and legal to use, improve, and share: Most OER have Creative Commons licenses that allow content to be reused, revised, remixed, and redistributed.

Workflow chart