Open educational resources (OER) are high-quality, effective teaching and learning materials that provide no-cost or low-cost access for students. OER includes curriculum, maps, course materials, textbooks, streaming videos, multimedia applications, podcasts, and any other materials that have been designed for use in teaching and learning.

According to UNESCO, “Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution.”

Like traditional textbooks, open textbooks are written by experts in the field and undergo a process of peer review and professional editing and development. Unlike the traditional publishing model, publishers and authors of open textbooks are paid for their labor upfront by a funding organization or grant, instead of relying on sales to pay back their investments.

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons licenses provide a standardized way for authors and creators to grant the public permission to share and use their creative works. The Creative Commons license is what makes an OER open for reuse, redistribution, retention, revision, and remix.

Creative Commons licenses mix and match the following elements.

A figure of a person surrounded by a circle. This Creative Commons Symbol represents permissions with attribution.

Attribution (BY)

Give credit to the original author

A dollar sign with a line through it surrounded by a circle. The Creative Commons symbol stands for non-commercial permissions.

Non-Commercial (NC)

Only use the work for noncommercial purposes

A circular arrow surrounded by a circle. This Creative Commons symbol represents the Share Alike expectation for reuse of open content.

Share Alike (SA)

Distribute derivative works under the same license

Equals sign in a circle. This symbol represents the "no derivatives" limitation in a Creative Commons license.

No Derivatives (ND)

Only use verbatim copies of the work