What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?


Open Educational Resources (OER) are any type of resources (such as textbooks, curriculum maps, course materials, video clips, images, infographics, multimedia applications, or podcasts) that have been designed for use in teaching and learning and that are:

  1. freely available (i.e. without an accompanying need to pay royalties or licence fees); and

  2. published with an open license that enable users to reuse, revise, remix, retain, and redistribute them (commonly referred to as the “5Rs”).

Commonly cited definitions of OER include the following:

“Open Educational Resources (OERs) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation.”


"Teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

“Digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research.” This definition includes encompasses learning content, software tools to develop, use, and distribute content, and implementation resources such as open licences.

  • Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

“Materials offered freely and openly to use and adapt for teaching, learning, development and research”

  • Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

Whereas the educational value of OER lies in the idea of using these resources as an integral method of delivering curriculum in educational courses (i.e. resource-based learning), its transformative power lies in the ease with which such resources, when digitized, may be shared via the Internet. However, it is important to note that the key differentiator between an OER and any other educational resource is its open licence. Thus, an OER is simply an educational resource that incorporates a licence that facilitates its free and unfettered reuse, without the need to request permission from the author or publisher.

OER, Open Educational Resources, OCW, Open CourseWare, OCW Consortium


What is the difference between OER and Open Access (OA)?