Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning, teaching and research materials available in a variety of formats, such as textbooks, courses, journals, multimedia and more. These resources exist in the public domain or under flexible open licensing and are available for anyone to use at no cost. The main goal of OER is to make education more affordable, accessible and effective.
"OER (Open Educational Resources) Introduction II" by Brendan Walsh is licensed under CC BY.
The term “Open Content” describes any copyrightable work that is licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5 R activities:
This material was modified from Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources by David Wiley, which was published under CC BY 4.0
The benefits of using OER include:
The benefits of creating and sharing your own content (such as lectures, presentations, syllabi, homework assignments, tests, etc) include:
OER are made available under open licenses, which grant permission to use them within the terms of those licenses. In this guide, we focus on Creative Commons, which is the most popular open licensing system.
Creative Commons (CC) licenses - opens in a new window are public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of a copyrighted work. Creators use CC licenses when they want to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created. The licenses also protect the people who use or redistribute that creator’s work from concerns of copyright infringement, as long as they abide by the conditions that are specified in the license.
Creative Commons licensed works can include text, images, video, audio, and more. You can use these works in a variety of ways, from personal uses such as posters, to public uses such as videos on YouTube. To know what you can do with a work, you have to look at the CC license type under which it is published.
There are seven main Creative Commons licenses. Each license grants users permission to use works in specific ways. In order from most open to least open, the Creative Commons licenses are as follows:
For more information on the terms and conditions associated with CC licensed material, please visit the Creative Commons FAQ for Licensees.
Other than the Public Domain license, all Creative Commons licenses require an attribution when you use works to which they apply, unless the creator says otherwise. The attribution should appear with the work, in a manner that is reasonable for the medium (e.g. on a credits list on a website, or a credits slide in a video).
CC Licenses have flexible standards for attribution, so there is not an exact format to follow, however, you need to include the important information. Use the technique below as a best practice when building your own attributions.
A typical attribution would look like this: “Title by Author is licensed under CC License Type.” Each element of the attribution links to the relevant page: the title links to the source page, the author’s name links to their profile page, and the license type links to license page.
If the creator has specific attribution instructions, structure your attribution in the way that they specify. If there is a copyright notice for the material, you must keep it intact and include it in the attribution, e.g. "This document contains content adapted from the Autodesk® Maya® Help opens in a new tab, available under CC BY NC SA 3.0 opens in a new tab. Copyright © Autodesk, Inc."
When you modify content to create something new, you have created something called a derivative work. In addition to the original attribution, the attribution for your derivative work requires the following additional information:
An attribution for a derivative work would look like this: This work, “New Title” is a derivative of “Title” by Author and used under CC License Type. “New Title” is licensed under CC License Type by My Name.
E.g. This work, “Donut Faces”, is a derivative of “Donuts opens in a new tab” by Ferry Sitompul opens in a new tab is licensed under CC BY 2.0. opens in a new tab “Donut Faces” is licensed under CC BY NC 4.0 opens in a new tab by AC Library.
If you are interested in OER and would like additional help or information, explore the topics in the OER Toolkit on The Learning Portal:
Complete these training modules to learn about OER. The modules explain OER, how you can use them, and how to properly attribute what you use.