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Open Educational Resources (OER): Getting Started

Guide to open educational resources for faculty

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

Open educational resources” means high-quality teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released pursuant to an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others, and may include other resources that are legally available and free of cost to students.  Open educational resources include, but are not limited to, full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, faculty-created content, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. --California Education Code, Section 78052 (b) (4)

How to Get Started with OER

Here are some of the starting points for getting involved in the OER community:

  • Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources is a great resource. Una Daly is the director and she spoke at the Spring 2017 Distance Education Summit put on by SDCCD Online.

The Consortium has a very active listserv to join: where you can ask all sorts of questions from those in the know. Be prepared to get a lot of emails from it.  OR, you can search the archives for discussion topics.

What Does "Open" Mean?

Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources

The terms "open content" and "open educational resources" describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like "open source") that is licensed in a manner that 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 wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • 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)

This material was created by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

Research on OER: Efficacy and Perceptions

The Open Education Group's Review Project, led by John Hilton III, is "an ongoing review of empirical research on the impacts of OER adoption" that "...gathered articles that focus on the efficacy of OER or teacher/student perceptions of such resources in actual practice. We have limited our studies to those in which OER were the primary learning resource(s) and were compared against traditional learning resources; in addition, the study needed to include at least 50 participants." Click the link below to go to the list of studies.

OER Overview

This presentation by Open Oregon looks at "lowering textbook costs by using open educational resources." (6:10 minutes)

CCCOER Playlist: 6 videos

Click the menu in the top right-hand corner of the first video to see a list of short videos on the following:

  1. What is OER?
  2. How can OER help educators?
  3. How can I find OER?
  4. What does the research say about OER?
  5. What is an open license and how does it work?
  6. Why OER?

Beware When Using OER

Be sure to check on your OER regularly to minimize surprises, such as:

  • Resources may not be updated in a timely fashion, or at all.
  • Resources may disappear from repositories or databases.
  • Students may experience some technological issues with OER materials, for example:
    • Blocked popup windows
    • Slow internet connection (buffering)
    • Unsupported browser version 
    • Page numbers may not be the same in .pdf version and the html version

License & Attribution

  All original content in this libguide, Open Educational Resources (OER),  is licensed by Sandra Pesce under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 3rd-party content including, but not limited to images and linked items, are subject to their own license terms.   Portions of this guide content are reused from Northern Virginia Community College's Open Educational Resources (OER) libguide, for which this author gratefully acknowledges librarian Heather Blicher's permission to copy.

Guide Author

Sandra V. Pesce, PhD ~ Librarian/Professor Electronic Resources ~ ~ 619-388-3245

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