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What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

In its simplest form, the concept of Open Educational Resource (OER) describes any educational resource (including curriculum maps, course materials, textbooks, streaming videos, multimedia applications, podcasts, and any other materials that have been designed for use in teaching and learning) that is openly available for use by educators and students, without an accompanying need to pay royalties or licence fees.

The term OER is largely synonymous with another term: Open CourseWare (OCW), although the latter may be used to refer to a specific, more structured subset of OER. An Open CourseWare is defined by the OCW Consortium as 'a free and open digital publication of high quality university-level educational materials. These materials are organized as courses, and often include course planning materials and evaluation tools as well as thematic content'1.

OER has emerged as a concept with great potential to support educational transformation. While its educational value lies in the idea of using resources as an integral method of communication of curriculum in educational courses (i.e. resource-based learning), its transformative power lies in the ease with which such resources, when digitized, can be shared via the Internet. Importantly, there is only one key differentiator between an OER and any other educational resource: its licence. Thus, an OER is simply an educational resource that incorporates a licence that facilitates reuse, and potentially adaptation, without first requesting permission from the copyright holder.

Taken from A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER)


OpenStax surpasses $1 billion in textbook savings, with wide-ranging impact on teaching, learning and student success
September 11, 2020
"Less than a decade after publishing its first free, openly licensed textbook, OpenStax - Rice University’s educational technology initiative - has saved students $1.2 billion. "Driven by the belief that everyone should have access to knowledge, OpenStax has published 42 titles for college and high school courses across science, math, social sciences, business and the humanities disciplines since 2012. It has served over 14 million students with its resources, with more than 36,000 instructors from across the world adopting an OpenStax textbook. Every book in its library is available free - forever - to students and independent ...

Comment on Five Alternatives to Expensive Textbooks
September 9, 2020
In 2011, the Globe and Mail newspaper ran an article presenting "Five Alternatives to Expensive Textbooks," by Ritika Puri. While the article is no longer available, the following comment has been preserved. Richart the Lionhearted comment on "Five Alternatives to Expensive Textbooks": I recently purchased the 8th Edition of Perry's Chemical Engineering Handbook for $15 and was very disappointed about the PDF View only option. In addition, the e-book is only an abridged version of the large hard copy of the CEHB. You can by a CD for PCs version for $150 that has the complete contents and full PDF view and copy formats. Plus, if the student underground is working properly, the whole class of 45 students can share the CD, illegally of course, but no different than lending out your hard copy. "Very disappointed in this purchase. I needed this book as a reference and cannot even read most of the charts in it. The charts fill the entire screen of my Kindle but are too light and washed out to read. I also tried reading it on my Kindle for PC with the same problem. The rest of the text is dark and clear, but having unreadable charts makes this book worthless. Buy the hard copy!" ...

The ultimate guide to copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons for educators
July 6, 2020
This Edublogger resource, prepared by Kathleen Morris, Sue Waters, and Ronnie Burt, provides a comprehensive yet reader-friendly overview of copyright for educators: "Copyright is important for all teachers, students, and bloggers to know about. And it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think. We’re here to break down the basics of copyright and other related topics like fair use, public domain, and Creative Commons." ...

Covid-19 crisis: UNESCO Call to support learning and knowledge sharing through open educational resources
May 5, 2020
In response to the massive disruption of education due to the Covid-19 pandemic affecting 1.57 billion learners in 191 countries, UNESCO has issued a Call to support learning and knowledge sharing through Open Educational Resources (OER) worldwide. Covid-19 UNESCO Statement: UNESCO joint statement on the use OER in the Covid-19 response UNESCO Global Education Coalition Covid-19 ...

Introducing UPEI's open education resource development program
April 9, 2020
UPEI’s Robertson Library, in partnership with the province and the UPEI Student Union, has created a program to support the creation, adaptation, or peer review of open education resources (OER) at UPEI to lower the cost of learning materials for ...