Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are “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 or 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,” according to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.  With appropriate licensing and an eye for finding materials and judging their quality and appropriateness for individual teachers’ classrooms, OER can have a huge impact on student learning. Teachers using OER are able to find free materials appropriately licensed and then mix materials from various sources to fit the needs of their students. In some cases, teachers may wish to add to or alter OER to create a new resource and then “publish” that resource for others to use. This spirit of sharing and improving OER is imbedded throughout the OER-using education community.

There is a spectrum of possibilities of licensing open to educators from public domain to Creative Commons (CC) to all rights reserved.

  • Public domain content has no restrictions on modification, sharing, use or reuse. Nor is there any cost. However, authorship and origin of the material may be lost with time, since these do not have to be tied to the content. Likewise, there is no way to track modifications across versions.
  • CC has six licenses which grant the content user varying degrees of use and modification rights. The content creator holds the copyright, but hands off varying levels of control over that can be done with the content. A CC license gives the user the ability to track authorship and modifications over time.
  • All rights reserved copyright restricts the content user’s rights to share, modify, and reuse material. Authorship and versioning over time can be tracked.

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