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Open Educational Resources

A resource guide on Open Educational Resources

OER logo
“OER Logo Open Educational Resources” by Markus Büsges on Wikimedia Deutschland e.V., CC BY-SA 4.0

“OER (Open Educational Resources) 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 and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”
SPARC OER Mythbusting

For faculty the use of copyright-free materials allows customization for their own courses. 

  • Gives faculty the ability to create customized resources that include diverse voices and local examples of content.

  • Resources can be aligned with syllabi without having to skip around chapters/sections not used.

  • Promotes academic freedom to adapt courses to one's pedagogy and adjust materials year-to-year


Faculty, are you already using OER? Please let us know by filling out this simple form.


For students, OER provides significant cost savings (textbooks, research articles, and other materials).

  • Materials are free to access online and can be purchased in print at a low cost.

  • Materials are available on first day of class and in perpetuity!


The 5 Rs: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute

How do you know what is or is not an OER? The license will tell you all you need to know. Any resource that is in the public domain or has a Creative Commons license which permits making derivative works (CC BY, CC BY-SA, CC BY-NC, or CC BY-NC-SA) is an OER.


Freedom: OER embodies freedom in both its uses: freedom to and freedom from! OER have many benefits that offer the user the freedom to use the resource in dynamic and responsive ways. But they also afford the user freedom from onerous or abusive practices like price-gouging and personal-data collecting.

graph titled Is the Resource...

"Is the resource" graphic by Midwestern Higher Education Compact; Toward Convergence: Creating Clarity to Drive More Consistency in Understanding the Benefits and Costs of OERCC BY


OER for a Sustainable Future

UNESCO sustainable development goals 

UNESCO has identified OER as helping to meet 6 of their

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations:

4: Quality Education5: Gender Equality9: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure 10: Reduced inequalities 16: Peace, justice, and strong institutions17: partnership for the goals

Further Reading

Adoption Guide: A reference for instructors, institutions, and students on adopting open textbooks by BC Campus. The second edition is an updated and expanded version of the original adoption guide. The first sections address three distinct groups involved in open textbook adoption: instructors, post-secondary institutions, and students. The second--most comprehensive--section focuses on the operational aspects of adoption: surveying instructors about, tracking usage of, and reporting out about open textbooks (and other OER). The last "Learn More" part provides additional adoption information.


OER Student Toolkit: For students, the high cost of educational resources and textbooks can be a serious obstacle to the accessibility and affordability of a post-secondary education. For instructors, traditional educational resources may also present a barrier to innovation in teaching and curriculum design. Fortunately, open educational resources (OER) provide a viable solution to both these issues. OER can be accessed for free online or printed at a fraction of the cost of a traditional textbook, and can be edited to better fit the curricular or pedagogical goals of an instructor.

Toward Convergence: Creating Clarity to Drive More Consistency in Understanding the Benefits and Costs of OER

Report developed by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), as part of the National Consortium for OER (NCOER), and by a workgroup of institutional, state, and national leaders to offer common principles and frameworks to improve consistency and reliability for measuring cost savings and the return on investment (ROI) of OER.

Use of Free Textbooks Is Rising, but Barriers Remain 

December 2017 article from the Chronicle of Higher Education presents the results of a survey of 2,700 faculty members on use and attitudes toward OERs. Presents a good overview of why faculty are choosing to use OERs and barriers preventing broader use.


""Open Educational Resources Mythbusting

The Open Educational Resources movement was conceived as a way to transform and democratize access to education. The movement is less then ten years old, but it has already matured to a point at which govern- ments, companies – and, most importantly, teachers and learners around the world – are creating OERs and  using them in countless ways.


"An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge. The new technology is the internet. The public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds. Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge." —From the Budapest Open Access Initiative


Open Education in Promotion, Tenure, and Faculty Development: This resource was developed by a working group from the Iowa Open Education Action Team (Iowa OER). Our team built upon DOERS3's OER in Tenure & Promotion Matrix to help faculty and staff advocate for the inclusion of open educational practices (OEP) in promotion, tenure, and faculty evaluation practices at their institutions.

This guide by Jessica Ryan at Smith College Libraries is adapted from many excellent LibGuides at peer-institutions, Creative Commons, and other open sources. For a complete list of resources contact Jessica Ryan. The content in this guide unless otherwise noted is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License