Difference between revisions of "What is OER?"

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Revision as of 18:20, 5 April 2010

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

Open Education "...is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Worldwide Web in particular provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse knowledge."
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Open educational resources (OER) are educational resources (e.g. learning aids, reference materials, textbooks) that are free to use and free to distribute, no matter who or where you are. Truly open educational resources are free for anyone to improve and build upon, mix with other OER, and remix into other mediums (such as different languages, formats, or contexts).

For more on OER, see the full Wikipedia article.

Existing OER Definitions

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

"OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge."[1]

The OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and UNESCO

"digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students, and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning, and research. OER includes learning content, software tools to develop, use, and distribute content, and implementation resources such as open licences."[2][3]

The Cape Town Open Education Declaration

"[O]pen educational resources should be freely shared through open licences which facilitate use, revision, translation, improvement and sharing by anyone. Resources should be published in formats that facilitate both use and editing, and that accommodate a diversity of technical platforms. Whenever possible, they should also be available in formats that are accessible to people with disabilities and people who do not yet have access to the Internet."[4]


"Open educational resources are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone to use and under some licenses to re-mix, improve, and redistribute. Open educational resources include: Learning content: full courses, course materials, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals.

Tools: Software to support the creation, delivery, use, and improvement of open learning content including searching and organization of content, content and learning management systems, content development tools, and on-line learning communities.

Implementation resources: Intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localization of content."[5]

The Wikieducator OER Handbook

"The term "Open Educational Resource(s)" (OER) refers to educational resources (lesson plans, quizzes, syllabi, instructional modules, simulations, etc.) that are freely available for use, reuse, adaptation, and sharing."[6]

OER Commons

"Open Educational Resources are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse, without charge. OER often have a Creative Commons or GNU license that state specifically how the material may be used, reused, adapted, and shared."[7]


OER definition comparison chart
Open copyright license required Right of access, adaptation, and republication Non-discriminatory (rights given to everyone, everywhere) Does not delimit "educational resources" to specific use or form
Hewlett Foundation
Cape Town Declaration
Wikieducator OER Handbook
OER Commons


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