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Open Educational Resources (OER): Home


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Paul Boger


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Fredericksburg, VA 22406


Some of the content on this guide was adapted from the research guides provided by the VCU Libraries.

What are 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 open 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. - definition adapted from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

OER are made available with the 5R permissions, which define the ways open content can be used:

  1. Retain: Make, own, and control copies of the content
  2. Reuse: Use the content in a variety of ways
  3. Revise: Adapt, adjust, modify, improve, or alter the content
  4. Remix: Combine the original or revised content with other OER to create something new
  5. Redistribute: Share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others

There are three ways to use OER: 

  1. Adopt existing resources without making changes
  2. Adapt existing resources by adding, removing, combining, or editing content
  3. Author new resources

Open Licenses

Authors use open licenses to grant permissions for use of their works in ways beyond what copyright normally allows. Open licenses do not replace copyright but work alongside it, allowing authors to keep their copyrights while permitting others to use their works.

Creative Commons licenses are the most commonly used open licenses for open educational resources (OER). These licenses come in a variety of forms, giving authors multiple choices in how their works can be used. OER are made available with the 5R permissions, and authors can apply Creative Commons licenses to their works to provide these permissions:

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