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Open Educational Resources (OER): Getting Started with OER

Open Education

Per the Community College Consortium for OER:

Open education is an attitude, a practice, and a method of teaching that inspires inquiry, equal access to course materials, and sharing lessons and materials with the wider community. At the center of open education is the belief that education is strengthened when shared openly. Open education relies on open educational resources (OER) and open licensing.

To practitioners of Open Education, openly-licensed OERs are the best way ensure that all students are provided equitable access to course materials. They will follow the "Five Rs" of OER when adopting, adapting, or creating OERs.

The Five "Rs" of OER

The 5Rs detailed below form the ethos of how OERs are created and subsequently licensed for others to use.

  1. Retain - make, own, and control a copy of the resource (e.g., download and keep your own copy)
  2. Revise - edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource (e.g., translate into another language)
  3. Remix - combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new (e.g., make a mashup)
  4. Reuse - use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g., on a website, in a presentation, in a class)
  5. Redistribute - share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others (e.g., post a copy online or give one to a friend)

Most authors of OER materials use Creative Commons licenses to define how their work may be used, shared, or adapted. 

Open Licenses

Open licensing is at the core of OER work. Open licenses have been used to great effect in the software community for many years prior to their principles being adapted outside of their communities.

For educators, creatives, and other proponents of openness, Creative Commons is the best way to share work openly while respecting copyright.

Our page on Creative Commons details the finer points on getting started using CC licenses on your own work.


This material is an adaptation of Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources, which was originally written by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at