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Open Educational Resoures (OER): Introduction

What is an Open Educational Resource (OER)?

1. UNESCO defines OERs as:

“Teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions”.

2. "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. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge" - William & Flora Hewlett Foundation

The 5Rs

OERs are licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

  1. Retain
  2. Reuse
  3. Revise
  4. Remix
  5. Redistribute

This material is based on original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

Welcome to the Open Educational Resources (OER) LibGuide

This guide provides information and resources to assist with the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs). 


Why use OER?

  1. Affordability 

    OER offer a low- or no-cost alternative to traditional textbooks in a time when students have an increasingly difficult time paying for books, while books continue to become more expensive.

    Stephens and Pickavance (2017) note that "While faculty and administrators have little control over the rising cost of tuition, they are able to offer students ... OER," which "can deliver comparable results for students as traditional textbooks, but at no cost."

  2. Flexibility 

    In addition to being free of charge, OER are free to use and expand upon, following the terms of their licenses. Most OER are highly customizable for individual instructors and courses, allowing you to use a text that contains exactly what you need.

  3. Academic Achievement 

    Studies including Grewe & Davis (2017) have found that OER implementation is correlated to higher final grades.

    Hilton & Laman (2012) found that after implementing OER in an introductory psychology class, students' final grades and exam scores improved, and the number of student withdrawals was halved.

  4. Accessibility 
    OER are presented in a format that makes them easily compatible with screen readers and BrailleNotes for visually impaired learners. They also offer improved accessibility for all users, for instance allowing the font to be easily enlarged.