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Open Educational Resources: Defining OER

This guide explains what Open Educational Resources are and provides resources for faculty at Snow College to help them use and create high-quality educational resources that can be used to decrease material costs for courses at Snow College and in higher

Snow College OER Knowledge Expert

Carol Kunzler's picture
Carol Kunzler

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The What of Open Educational Resources

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium - digital or otherwise - that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions (UNESCO, 2019).  OERs can be in the form of quizzes, textbooks, syllabi, full courses, test questions, assignments, lecture notes and more.

Use The 5 R's of OER to help you determine if something you want to use or create as an open resource is open and free of copyright.

  An open educational resource provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in 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 variety of ways (in class, in a study group, on a website, in a video, etc.)
  • 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)  See

To Learn more about OER visit the Learning more about OER tab in this LibGuide


The Why of Open Educational Resources

Why use Open Education Resources?

Using OER can have many benefits to education.  Here are just a few reasons for using OER:

  • student success
  • higher completion rates
  • cost savings for students
  • more freedom for faculty in selecting course materials
  • faculty can edit, reorder, and remix OER materials
  • clearly defined user rights means no need to interpret Fair Use and TEACH Act guidelines


How to License an OER

Open Educational Resources do not have to be licensed, but, many creators choose to provide a use statement or to create a free creative commons license.  A creative commons license provides users with a clear statement of how to use the OER when citing the work, using if for commercial purposes, adapting it, and redistributing it.  A creative commons license is free and simple to create (see

Wanna Work Together? from Creative Commons on Vimeo.