Skip to Main Content

Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

Open Educational Resources (OER)

This guide provides information about Open Educational Resources, or OER.

Open Educational Resources

OER logo by Jonathas MelloThis guide is intended to introduce faculty in Social Sciences to OER, demonstrate where to find them, and discuss how to apply them to your courses.

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

According to UNESCO, open educational resources (OER) are any type of educational materials that are in public domain or introduced with an open license that permits others to reuse, revise, remix, retain, and redistribute materials. They can be used for classroom teaching and research with no copyright restrictions. The goal of OER is to make education more affordable, accessible and effective.

OER = FREE + PERMISSIONS to Copy, Share, Keep, Edit, Mix & Use.

  • Cost savings for students on educational materials
  • Easy to distribute widely with little or no cost
  • Great supplement to regularly used textbooks and lectures/media materials
  • Student participation in creation of educational content
  • Increases student retention and improves student performance
  • Ongoing innovations in pedagogical practices for faculty

For additional information on Open Educational Resources, please review OER Handbook for Educators 1.0.

What are the 5 Rs of OER?

Defined by David Wiley, the 5Rs of openness include

  • 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)

See the 5Rs of OER Infographic

Examples of OER include, but are not limited to:

  • Open textbooks, course videos, and images
  • Syllabi, lesson plans, lectures, learning modules
  • Assignments, quizzes, lab and classroom activities
  • Library guides, games or simulations

OER Licensing

The most commonly used intellectual property license for OER that permits free use and re-purposing is called Creative Commons Licensing. Creative Commons licenses work with legal definitions of copyright to automatically provide usage rights pertaining to that work. OER materials are openly licensed. The most common Creative Commons (CC) license is the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY). The CC BY license lets others distribute, reuse, and build upon the work as long as the user provides attribution to the original creator and a link to the original work. 

To learn more about the CC licenses, please watch the brief video -Learning to Attributes.

Start with the OER Starter Kit

The OER Starter Kit has been created by Abbey Elder, a librarian at Iowa State University, to provide professors with an introduction to the use and creation of open educational resources (OER).

Please watch a brief video below to get an overview of how OER could be applied to teach in social sciences.