VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Creating Open Educational Resources

Creating Open Educational Resources

Creating OER typically falls into two categories: creating from scratch and adapting or customizing.


Adapting/customizing OER means taking existing materials and changing them to meet your needs. Such  process could involve: 

  • Adjusting content to update a resource with new information
  • Making changes or adding content to ensure it fits your specific class
  • Combining multiple resources to make a new resource, also known as remixing. This option allows faculty to make the book reflect their syllabus rather than vice versa or asking students to use multiple resources
  • Customizing your resource for your class and its environment, ensuring it reflects the populations you teach and their environment. For example, including examples from Virginia, Richmond, or VCU.

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.

Creating from scratch

If OER that fit 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. Many instructors put together slides, handouts, etc for their classes. As long as these were created by the instructor and not taken from a publisher or copyrighted work, they can be used in or as OER--just stick an open license on it!

What is an OER?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching/learning materials that are free and have non-traditional copyright restrictions which allow for unrestricted use, retention, sharing, and editing. 

OER can be any type of teaching or learning materials, including: 

  • Textbooks
  • Smaller pieces of text
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Slide decks
  • Assignments
  • Assessments
  • Syllabi
  • Homework platforms
  • Whole courses

The non-traditional copyright often is in the form of a Creative Commons (CC) License. For more information on Creative Commons licenses, please visit:

Choose and Apply a Creative Commons License