How much can I change OER for my own purposes?


In most instances, a user has enormous latitude to adapt openly licensed resources to suit contextual needs. If, however, the licence restricts adaptation (as, for example, the Creative Commons licence with a ‘No Derivatives’ restriction does), others may not alter the resource in any way. It has to be used ‘as is’. In this case, however, the resource is not considered to be OER.

Common ways in which OER can be changed include the following:

  • Remixing
    A number of OER are mixed together, in some cases with additional content added, to create an altogether new resource. This is common when course designers need to develop materials and resources to match a local curriculum or programme.

  • Adaption/Revision
    This occurs when an OER is adapted to suit the local context. It could be that the language is translated into others but may instead involve local or recent case studies/examples/research being added to make the materials relevant to students in a particular context.

  • Asset extraction
    It is possible to extract only some of the assets of a resource or course and use them in a completely different context. This is especially true of media elements such as photos, illustrations, and graphs, as developers often lack the skills or resources to develop their own versions of commonly used visual aids.

In many ways, the fact that changes may be made to the original is what makes OER – compared with other forms of copyrighted materials – especially useful to programme developers.

OER, licence, Creative Commons, adaption, remix, repurpose, mixing, asset extraction

Butcher, N. (2015). A basic guide to open educational resources (OER). Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver and UNESCO. Retrieved from