Open Educational Resources

Introduction to OER

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that are freely accessible on the Internet and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. OER include open textbooks, lesson plans, lecture notes, assessment tools, games, courses, etc. 

The intent of OER is to promote sharing of information and resources amongst educators and to support teaching and learning activities while removing barriers such as costs and copyright clearance. OER can generally be copied, re-used and shared with others. In many cases, the material can also be revised and adapted to one's instructional needs. 

*OER Open Educational Resources video, from intheacademia, licensed under CC BY 4.0

OER are different than traditional textbooks and educational materials based on the following 5R principles for users: 

The 5R Permissions of OER

Retain • Make and own copies
Reuse • Use in a wide range of ways
Revise • Adapt, modify, and improve
Remix • Combine two or more
Redistribute • Share with others

*Lumen Learning's chart, CC BY 4.0, is based on David Wiley's 5R Framework

Although most OER follow the 5R principles, some do have unique restrictions. The best practice is to check the Creative Commons licence, if there is one, of the material you want to use.

Creative Commons licensing is very common for OER. These licences allow creators to set limitations on the use of their materials if they choose to do so. There are 6 types of Creative Commons licences:

CC BY - Attribution 
CC BY SA - Attribution & Share Alike 
CC BY ND - Attribution & No Derivatives
CC BY NC - Attribution & Noncommercial
CC BY NC SA - Attribution, Noncommercial & Share Alike 
CC BY NC ND - Attribution, Noncommercial & No Derivatives

CC BY is the most user friendly licence because only attribution is required. For more information, please visit the Creative Commons website

Why Use OER?

Increases student retention by reducing costs
Assures academic freedom to modify or add content to your specifications
Extends your academic profile
Provides more relevant and engaging materials for your students


Low cost or free
Easy to find and access -- even before classes start
More customised and relevant


*Part of the BCOER's infographic on "Key Things to Know about Open Educational Resources", CC BY 4.0