Young plant growing out of book with coins. Knowledge conceptOpen Educational Resources Overview

The term Open Educational Resources (OER) describes any educational resource (including curriculum maps, course materials, textbooks, streaming videos, multimedia applications, podcasts, and any other materials that are designed for use in teaching and learning) that are available for use without license fees or royalty fees by educators and students.

The licensing and use of OER are governed by an emerging legal framework. Depending on the specific licensing the resources in question may be shared, used, revised and used, adapted for use or simply adopted. The broadest licensing framework is by far the Creative Commons Licensing framework. This framework allows authors to retain the recognition for their work while continuing to allow for sharing or adapting for educational purposes. This licensing framework still allows the restricting of commercial use of the resource

OER are defined as materials that are distributed at no cost with legal permission for the public to freely use, share, and build upon the content for educational purposes. These licensing agreements generally allow for OER to meet some if not all of the 5 “R”s.


The Five “R”s

The five permissions listed below are generally considered the framework for OER as they provide the necessary permissions for materials to meet the “open” criteria.


The right to make, own, and control copies of the content.


The right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video).


The right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language).


The right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup).


The right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend) (Wiley, 2014).


Diving Deeper