Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching/learning materials that are free to access (digitally) and have open licensing which allows for unrestricted use, retention, sharing, and editing. Anyone can create an OER, although many OERs originate from higher education institutions or open-focused publishers.
OER can be any type of teaching or learning materials, including textbooks, images, videos, slide decks, assessments, syllabi, and whole courses.
OER are always free digitally. They are often also available for print for the cost of printing, making print versions significantly cheaper than their commercial counterparts. For example, the 1272 page hardcover version of OpenStax College Physics is available for $48.50.
The open licensing, often in the form of a Creative Commons (CC) License, allow for unrestricted usages often referred to as the 5 Rs. The ability to:
Retain: Make, own, and control copies of the content
Reuse: Use the content in a variety of ways
Revise: Adapt, adjust, modify, improve, or alter the content
Remix: Combine the original or revised content with other OER to create something new
Redistribute: Share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others
Creating an OER follows the same process as creating any other teaching materials, including textbooks. The only difference is the license you ultimately attach to the work. The open licenses also allow for more flexibility in reusing existing resources so that you don't always have to create everything from scratch to make an idea resource.
When you create an OER, you could be creating a new resource from scratch, assigning an open license to something you previously created, or adapting/customizing existing content.
If an OER that fits your needs to do not currently exist, you can create a resource from scratch. This process is the same as any other creation process, except you assign an open license to the final product.
Creating from scratch might seem like a giant endeavor, but don't forget that you can pull on resources that you've already created (see "assigning an open license..") or OER that already exist (see "Adapting/customizing...") to help build the perfect resource.
Many instructors create slides, handouts, etc for their classes. If you add an open license, these items will become OER.
When using materials you've already created for class, make sure that these materials were not taken in whole or in part from a publisher or copyrighted work. For example, a slidedeck using images from the publisher would contain copyrighted work, which cannot be openly licensed. We recommend not including any copyrighted work in your OER. However, if you feel a copyrighted material is absolutely necessary for inclusion, you can either claim fair use or ask for permission. See the "Use Existing Content" tab for more information.
While you can informally share materials with colleagues, not adding the open license technically requires them to ask permission before usage, since the work is automatically copyrighted. Instead, open licenses clearly indicate what downstream users can do with your work, without forcing them to ask for permission.
Adapting/customizing OER means taking existing materials and changing them to meet your needs. This could involve:
With the open licenses, like Creative Commons, of OER, authors can make these changes without requesting the permission of the original author. However, derivative works--those that would be created in this process--will still need to attribute the original resource.
While the process of creating an Open Educational Resource (OER) will vary resource to resource, all creation can be distilled into these four steps.
This step will be the most time-intensive and hardest to standardize, but will follow one of the three pathways described above: creating a new resource from scratch, assigning an open license to something you previously created, or adapting/customizing existing content.
Here are some tips for creating your resource:
Other items to consider as you're creating your resource:
OER typically use any Creative Commons (CC) license that does not include a no-derivatives (ND) restriction. For help picking which CC license is the best fit for you and your work, review "Choose and Apply a Creative Commons License" or visit:
It’s good practice to indicate the license on your resource. We recommend including it as a footer on the document (including it only on the first page is fine) or website. Use the following template:
[picture of license] [“This work”/title] by [author] is licensed under a Creative Commons [license information, include hyperlink to license information on creative commons website] license.
This work by Jessica Kirschner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
Congratulations, you’ve now created an OER! We now recommend widely sharing so that you and others can take advantage of the open license. Check out the "Sharing your OER" tab for some suggestions and guidance.