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Faculty Resources

Open Educational Resources

OER are "teaching, learning, and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation, and redistribution by others." -UNESCO

The term OER is usually used in reference to open textbooks, but it can extend to any of the following, and more:

  • Full courses
  • Learning modules
  • Video content
  • Images
  • Tests and quizzes
  • Software
  • Any other course materials or tools
  • Any works already in the public domain

Using OERs offers faculty an alternative option to using traditional textbooks or integrating library resources.

The Five Rs of OER

The Five Rs define the rights of open content and explain how the materials can be used. Open Educational Resources, unlike other open access content, allow for most or all of these factors.


The right to make, own, and control a copy of a resource


The right to edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource


The right to combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing materials to create something new


The right to use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly


The right to share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others

Creative Commons Licensing

Most Open Educational Resources include a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that developed a set of licenses that enhance—but in no way replace—copyright. These licenses help creators grant the public permission to use their work while still maintaining copyright. They also let users know what they can, and strictly cannot, do with that material.

There are six Creative Commons licenses that creators can attribute to their work, made up of a combination of four factors: Attribution, Share-Alike, No Derivatives, and Noncommercial. These four factors are combined in different ways, resulting in the six licenses. Additionally, Creative Commons has a CC0 license, which covers items released into the public domain. You can learn more about the six different licenses from Creative Commons.

(Image credit: Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University)