VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Affordable Course Content

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and made available without copyright or licensing restrictions that limit how they are used. OER can include syllabi, course modules, textbooks, videos, tests, journal articles, assessment tools, and any other materials used to support learning. OER originate from colleges, universities, libraries, government agencies, publishers, or faculty or other individuals who develop and openly share their teaching resources.

OER are made available with the 5R permissions, which define the ways open content can be used:

  1. Retain: Make, own, and control copies of the content
  2. Reuse: Use the content in a variety of ways
  3. Revise: Adapt, adjust, modify, improve, or alter the content
  4. Remix: Combine the original or revised content with other OER to create something new
  5. Redistribute: Share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others

There are three ways to use OER: 

  1. Adopt existing resources without making changes
  2. Adapt existing resources by adding, removing, combining, or editing content
  3. Author new resources

Are Open Educational Resources Effective?

A review of studies on the efficacy of open educational resources have found that a vast majority of students who use them perform as well or better than those using traditional materials. (Open Education Group. 2016. The Review Project.)