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Open Educational Resources: Getting Started

Fall 2020 Courses

With the majority of course being offered online, this is an excellent time to consider using open educational resources (OERs) to provide access to course materials freely, openly and legally. For assistance in finding suitable OERs for your courses, contact the Library or the Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL).

OER: The Basics

What are Open Educational Resources, or OERs?
"Open Educational Resources, or OER, refer to any teaching and learning materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open licence, such as a Creative Commons License or GNU General Public License, that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution with no or limited restrictions".

Source: “OER Toolkit” (2020). The learning portal. College Libraries Ontario.  Licensed under CC BY 4.0 

Source: Hogendoorn, L.; Carlisle-Johnston, E. (n.d) Short History of OER. Licensed under a CC BY 4.0 International license.

What does OER include?
"Full courses, learning objects, tests or any other tools, materials, or techniques for use in teaching, learning, and research." This could include - but is not limited to - open textbooks, journals, videos, lesson plans, software, and games.

Source: “OER Toolkit” (2020). The learning portal. College Libraries Ontario.  Licensed under CC BY 4.0 

Why use OERs?
There are a number of benefits for both faculty and students when it comes to using open resources!

  • Student costs are reduced. This has the potential to reduce student stress and increase retention.
  • Materials are easy to find, allowing students to begin working ahead, even before classes begin.
  • Open materials can often be customized, allowing faculty to tailor materials to better suit their courses. Resources become more relevant and engaging!

Find more benefits to OER's under the Creating, Adopting & Evaluating OER tab!

Source: [BCOER Poster]. (n.d.) BCcampus. Licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Open resources allow users to engage in what David Wiley describes as the 5R Activities:

  • Retain: The right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  • Reuse: The right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise: The right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix: The right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute: The right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Source: Wiley, D. (n.d.) Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources.

OER Testimonials

Source: Fierro, C. (2015). My OER experience. [Video]. Tacoma Community College. Vimeo.

Source: Elder, A. (2017, December 13). An introduction to open educational resources. [Video]. YouTube. 
Licensed under a CC BY 4.0 International license.

Source: Tidewater Community College's textbook-free "z-degree". (2014, April 24). [Video]. YouTube.

Source: Lumen Learning: supporting students to succeed with open education. (2014, January 27). [Video]. Lumen Learning. YouTube.
Licensed under a CC BY 4.0 International license.

Acknowledgments : OER

The content in this guide has been adapted from the following OER resources. We thank these organizations and creators for sharing their knowledge and resources with us.

1. Gits, C. (2020). Open educational resources research guide. Austin Community College Library.  Licensed under CC BY 4.0

2. Gong, R. (2020) Open educational resources research guide. Lansing Community College Library.  Licensed under CC BY 4.0

3. “OER Toolkit” (2020). The learning portal. College Libraries Ontario.  Licensed under CC BY 4.0 

4. Open educational resources. (2019). Northwestern Michigan College Library.  Licensed under CC BY 4.0.

5. Seal, M. (2019). Copyright & OER research guide. Cambrian College Library.  Licensed under CC BY 4.0 and CC BY NC-SA

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Evaluating Your Resources

Whether you're using resources from the Library or the web, it's important to evaluate what you're reading! Is it accurate? Credible? And how do you know? The Learning Portal has a great guide to help you get started.

Keep Us Current!

Found a link that isn't working? Is one of our resources out-of-date?

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We can be reached by phone at 613-969-1913, Ext. 2249, or by email at