What is an Open Educational Resource?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, or research materials in the public domain or openly licensed for free access, use, and adaptation. OER can be any tool, material, or technique that supports access to knowledge. This includes textbooks, lab manuals, assignments, videos, software, syllabi, or anything else that can be used to support learning.

(Definition adapted from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation)

What can I do with them?

OER can be used to lower textbook costs, supplement instruction, support academic and creative projects, and support learning outside of the classroom. 

Generally, an open resource is available for free and can be adapted or reused. This can include adding new material, rearranging material, translating, or combining multiple OER together. This makes OER a powerful and flexible tool for faculty and students. Most OER are released under a Creative Commons (CC) License. Each license will tell you what exactly you can and cannot do. Some OER are in the public domain and have no restrictions.

Are they still good if they're free?

OER have many of the same standards as traditional publications, including review options. Open textbooks are often written by faculty or industry experts, and published by academic institutions. Like traditionally published books, there is a range of quality, but OER are not better or worse because they are freely available.

How do I find them?

To get started looking for OER, see our Open Educational Resources Guide.