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What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

In its simplest form, the concept of Open Educational Resource (OER) describes any educational resource (including curriculum maps, course materials, textbooks, streaming videos, multimedia applications, podcasts, and any other materials that have been designed for use in teaching and learning) that is openly available for use by educators and students, without an accompanying need to pay royalties or licence fees.

The term OER is largely synonymous with another term: Open CourseWare (OCW), although the latter may be used to refer to a specific, more structured subset of OER. An Open CourseWare is defined by the OCW Consortium as 'a free and open digital publication of high quality university-level educational materials. These materials are organized as courses, and often include course planning materials and evaluation tools as well as thematic content'1.

OER has emerged as a concept with great potential to support educational transformation. While its educational value lies in the idea of using resources as an integral method of communication of curriculum in educational courses (i.e. resource-based learning), its transformative power lies in the ease with which such resources, when digitized, can be shared via the Internet. Importantly, there is only one key differentiator between an OER and any other educational resource: its licence. Thus, an OER is simply an educational resource that incorporates a licence that facilitates reuse, and potentially adaptation, without first requesting permission from the copyright holder.

Taken from A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER)


Tracey Woodburn
Joined August 17, 2018
Research Assistant, Athabasca University
Records manager for the OER Knowledge

Rory McGreal
Joined August 17, 2018
UNESCO/CoL Chairholder in OER, Athabasca University
Professor Rory McGreal is the UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning Chairholder in Open Educational Resources. He is a professor in the Centre

Dan Wilton
Joined August 17, 2018
Developer, Athabasca University