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Open Educational Resources: About OER

What is OER?



OER, or Open Educational Resources, are "teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse at no cost, and without needing to ask permission" (OER Commons). Most often, these will take the form of materials that have been openly licensed, which means that their creators have allowed reuse of their works under some conditions.

Specifically, openly licensed works allow for these five freedoms (commonly known as the 'five Rs'):

  1. Retain. Users can "make, own, and control copies" of openly-licensed materials.
  2. Reuse. Users can use content in many different contexts, such as on a website or in a video.
  3. Revise. Users can adapt or modified openly-licensed materials for their own needs.
  4. Remix. Users can combine openly-licensed materials with other materials to create new works.
  5. Redistribute. Users can share copies of openly-licensed materials, as well as their revisions or remixes.

These five freedoms offer many advantages in the classroom. Read on to learn more.

Why use OER?

Are you interested in open education, but don't know too much about why you should use it in your classroom? Watch Intro to Open Education, a short video from Robin DeRosa, director of Learning & Libraries and the director of the Open Learning & Teaching Collaborative at Plymouth (NH) State University. 

There are so many reasons to adopt OER in your classroom!

  • Student success. Textbook costs have a significant impact on students. Providing a free, online textbook reduces the need for students to delay purchasing texts; drop a course due to textbook costs; or attempt to get through the course without the textbook. 
  • Pedagogy. The ability to revise and remix texts gives instructors freedom to customize course content according to student needs. 
  • Accessibility. OER are accessible options in many ways. Most options are online and friendly to assistive technology; the library would be happy to work with the CLASS office to conduct an accessibility audit of any OER you are considering. Additionally, any improvements that you make to a textbook to improve its accessibility can be shared with the entire OER community because of the built-in permissions to revise, remix, and redistribute OER.

Open pedagogy

As you explore OER, you may wish to apply the principles of open education to more than just your textbook through open pedagogy, which is "the practice of engaging with students as creators of information rather than simply consumers of it" (University of Texas at Arlington). Using the Five Rs, students can create and adapt information even as they learn it.

Some examples of assignments based on open pedagogy, or renewable assignments, are below.

Much of this OER guide was adapted from Augsberg University's OER LibGuide with the permission of Caroline Wack.

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