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Open Educational Resources: Overview

Why OER?

Five Rs of OER

5Rs image by David Wiley, Lumen Learning, licensed under CC BY 4.0

What is Open Access

Open Access (OA) refers to freely available content permanently online such as scholarly articles and journals. These resources can be reused and there is some scope for alteration.

OER encourages remixing and redistribution of the resource and covers a much wider range of materials.

Difference Between OER and Open Access

OA: Open Access - Free, permanent, full-text, online access to scientific and scholarly works. Focuses on sharing content, with no underlying licensing requirement

OER: Open Educational Resources - Openly licensed educational content,  includes any educational content that is shared under an open license, and can  be reused and remixed.  Source: University of Michigan OER Toolkit.

Open Access Textbooks

Open Educational Resources (OER) Defined

Open Educational Resources (OER) are "teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others."  From The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

OER materials are released under an open license granting permission for everyone to:

  • Retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute.

OER include digital learning materials such as:

  • Open textbooks, full courses, modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab activities, games, and simulations.

Free Textbooks

Open textbooks are materials that are freely available, usually through a Creative Commons license, to download, modify, and print in various formats.

Why should faculty adopt an open textbook?

  • Open textbooks are more affordable than commercially available textbooks and enable student education budgets to stretch further, giving students greater flexibility in their education choices.
  • Faculty can readily customize open textbooks to better meet their local teaching and learning needs.
  • Lastly, open textbooks provide pricing, flexibility and customization advantages that commercially available textbooks currently do not provide.


Some content and layout reused and remixed under CC license courtesy of Lansing Community College.