What is an Open Educational Resource (OER)?
OERs are online course materials that are openly licensed, often with Creative Commons licensing.
Video from The Council of Chief State School Officers, licensed under CC by 4.0
OERs give users the rights to perform the 5Rs (retain, revise, remix, reuse, and redistribute). Often, the creators of the OERs will use Creative Commons licensing as the framework to make these 5Rs legally possible
- Retain: The ability for a person to make, own, and control a copy of the resource.
- Revise: The ability for a person to edit, adapt, and modify a copy of the resource.
- Remix: The ability to combine the resource with other existing materials to create a new resource.
- Reuse: The ability to use the original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource in a public setting such as in a presentation or class.
- Redistribute: The ability to share a copy of the original, revised, or remixed resource with other people.
The text in the 5Rs section is adapted from Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources, written by David Wiley, licensed under CC by 4.0
An open license showcases to users of a resource that they are free to do the above-mentioned 5Rs without having to ask permission from the original creator, or making a fair use assessment. There are various types of materials that can be considered an OER, such as open textbooks, lesson plans, course materials, videos, games, and software.
The Open Movement
OERs are a part of a larger open knowledge movement. At the heart of this movement is collaboration, transparency, and free access. This open knowledge movement hinges around information being free to use and redistribute, while also being free of social, technological, or legal restrictions. These principles allow for the free and open distribution of information. Other types of open knowledge include open data, open government, and open access to academic research.
Quick Start Guide
Below you will find a very short summary of the process for adopting OER into your courses. The rest of this resource will go into further detail for each of these steps.
The first step of this process is to look for suitable resources that will contribute to your instructional objectives. It is important to analyze potential OERs for quality content, accessibility, and for social justice concerns. Many OERs can be found in dedicated OER repositories. A list of these resources is provided on the “Finding OER” page and in the resource list of this guide. It is also important to consider if materials you have already created can be turned into OERs by applying an open license.
After you have collected a variety of resources, you may find that you would like to use different sections or aspects of each of these resources. You can remix them to create a learning resource or resources that will help you achieve your instructional objectives and learning outcomes. While there are many quality OERs currently available, you may also find that you want or need to create your own OERs to meet instructional objectives for your courses.
Adopt and Adapt
Once you have analyzed the resources that you have found, you can begin to adopt them into your classroom. Depending on the resource, you may want to use it “as is,” with your students. However, you can also adapt, revise, or remix these resources from the start or over time to ensure that they continue to meet your instructional objectives.
Due to open licensing, you open up new teaching possibilities by using OER in your classroom. One of these possibilities is more collaboration through the teaching and learning process because the materials can be used, adapted and shared within and across learning communities. As you implement OER in your courses, take advantage of these possibilities. Pair up with a colleague on the implementation of OER, invite peer and student critique of the materials, or engage students as co-creators in OER-based assignments.
The last step of this process is to make your OERs available for your peers and the broader open education community to find, use, reuse, and remix. When you make your OERs available, add descriptors so that others can find the resource, and select the appropriate license for any new and adapted resources. Consult the Creative Commons License Compatibility Chart to help with selecting this license.
The text in the Quick Start Guide is adapted from the content in OER Handbook for Educators, by WikiEducator, and The Learning Portal / Le Portail d’Apprentissage by College Libraries Ontario, both of which are licensed under CC BY 4.0
OER Resources at NYU
NYU Libraries has additional information on affordable course content and OERs on the Affordable and Open Educational Resources LibGuide. You can also contact the Scholarly Communications and Information Policy department at NYU Libraries by emailing, firstname.lastname@example.org, to receive guidance on the following topics:
- Finding existing OER
- Adapting existing OER
- Digital publishing services for new OER
- Copyright and licensing for new OER (for educative purposes; for legal advice, please contact General Counsel)
- Making new OER discoverable
If you are interested in creating or reusing OERs for your courses, then NYU Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Services and NYU IT also manage a number of web publishing platforms that can be used for building new OER or adapting existing ones:
Go to: OER and its Benefits