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Copyright Information Center

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching materials that are free of cost and openly licensed so that they can be re-used and modified by others. 

OER can consist of any type of teaching resource not just textbooks. They also include things such as syllabi, assessments, videos, modules, and even full courses. 

OER should allow for other people to do the following with the work:

  • Retain - right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  • Reuse - right to use the unaltered content in a wide variety of ways
  • Revise - right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content to better meet your needs 
  • Remix - right to combine the original and revised content with other material to create something new
  • Redistribute - right to share copies of the original content, revisions, or remixes with others

Find Existing OER

Evaluating Existing OER

You can evaluated OER in a similar manner as you do regular textbooks and course content. However there may be additional things you want to consider.

  • What is the intended audience/level for the work?
  • Does this content fully cover what you would like your students to learn? If not, would you like to revise it yourself? Do you want to combine it with other existing OER?
  • What do the license terms allow you to do with the work? Do they meet your needs?
  • What are the credentials of the creator or repository?
  • Has the work gone through any peer review process? 
  • When was the work last revised or updated?
  • What file format is it in? Will your students be able to easily access it? If you wish to modify it, how easy will it be for you to do so?
  • Is it accessible to all students?
  • Is the content free of cultural bias and stereotypes?

Platforms for Authoring and Publishing OER

What Content Can I Include in OER?

Your Work

You can include any works you have created that you retain the copyright in. You must be willing to place an open license on your work to allow others to freely access and adapt it. See the Creative Commons guide for more information on selecting an open license.

Public Domain Works

Works that are in the public domain do not have copyright either because their copyright has expired for they are not eligible for copyright. Visit the public domain guide for more information.

Works Licensed Under an Open License 

Works that have an open license placed on them such as a Creative Commons license can be used as long as your use abides by the license terms. For more information visit the Creative Commons guide.

Copyrighted Works with Appropriate Permissions Granted

You may include copyrighted works if you obtain the appropriate permissions or license allowing for distribution for the life of your resource. You must indicate that these resources do not fall under any open license you place on your OER. For more information visit the permissions guide.

Works Used Under Fair Use

For more information on applying fair use to OER see the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources. For more general information on fair use visit the fair use guide.

How-to Guides for Authoring OER

Accessibility and OERs