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Open Educational Resources are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone to use. In addition to this guide, we recommend you also check out a related OER site, Textbook Affordability at UMD.
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Quick Guide

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

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 material, 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 online learning communities.
  • Implementation resources: Intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localization of content.

Why OER?

OER is a relatively new movement in education; educators and learners, as well as learning institutions, are driving its development. OER provides an alternative to the rising costs of education. For example, in some countries like South Africa, many educators and learners are tapping into OER as the only source for textbooks. OER provides an opportunity to try new ways of teaching and learning, many of which are more collaborative and participatory.  

Some educators are levering OER to get students more involved, using the OER process as a way to collaborate with them on content creation. This process brings students into a larger context of learning and sharing knowledge beyond the four walls of their classroom.

Flexibility is a key concept in OER. Materials can be adapted for your specific needs. Because these materials can be searched by a wide variety of criteria, you can quickly find what you specifically need.

Getting Started!

First, find out more about Creative Commons (CC) Licensing. Because most of OER are under Creative Commons terms, understanding CC will help you to better use OER.

Second, identify yourself:  

  • If you are educators, including professors, lecturers, and teaching assistant, etc., and want to find some teaching materials, such as syllabi, lecture notes, assignment, lab manuscript, lab reports, and so on, please visit the For Professors tab.
  • If you are learners and want to find free or affordable textbooks and other course materials, please visit the For Students tab.

Last, visit the Recommended Readings tab to learn more about OER.

Awareness of OER

A Fall 2014 Report from the Babson Survey Research Group offers a glimpse into faculty awareness and opinions of Open Educational Resources.

  • Opening the Curriculum: Open Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2014
    "Awareness and adoption of open educational resources (OER) has yet to enter the mainstream of higher education. Most faculty remain unaware of OER, and OER is not a driving force for faculty decisions about which educational materials to adopt. The picture does include some promising signals, as results show that faculty find the concept attractive: those who are aware of OER rate it roughly on par with traditional resources, and those who have not yet used it are very willing to give it a try."
    (Executive Summary)

Creative Commons


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