Is OER the same as e-learning?


OER is not synonymous with online learning or e-learning, although many people make the mistake of using the terms interchangeably.

The term e-learning/e-content often refers to comprehensive programs or mini-courses complete with learning objectives, detailed textual explanations, animations, video, sound, and quizzes. Many e-learning courses may harness OER, but others rely on all rights reserved copyrighted content.

Moreover, although both e-learning/e-content and OER may refer to electronic learning materials, the latter can be produced and shared in any medium, including paper-based text. Indeed, given the bandwidth and connectivity challenges common in some developing countries, it is expected that a high percentage of educational resources in such countries are shared as printable resources, rather than being designed for use in e-learning.

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