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Open Educational Resources (OER)

A guide to educational material that are freely available to use, adapt, share, and reuse.

Overview of Open Educational Resources (OER)

This guide serves to provide an overview of Open Educational Resources (OER) . The benefit of these resources is that they are not only free to use, they are also free of most copyright restrictions and can be openly used, edited, stored, and distributed.  Additionally, many of these resources can be downloaded then accessed offline by students, even long after the end of a course. 

"Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others."     -William & Flora Hewlett Foundation 

Re-use, re-mix, re-distribute

OER are made available with the 5R Permissions that serve to define how the content can be used.  

1.  Retain: Make, own, and control copies of the content through download, duplication, storage, and management.

2.  Reuse: Use the content in a variety of ways such as in a class, website, study group, or video.

3.  Revise: Adapt, adjust, modify, improve, or alter the content.  

4.  Remix: Combine the original or revised content with other OER to create something new.

5.  Redistribute: Share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others.

Examples of OER include: textbooks, syllabi, course modules, videos, assessment tools, and more.

​OER originates in colleges, universities, libraries, government agencies, publishers, or faculty and other individuals who develop and openly share teaching resources.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) licensing is at the center for the OER movement and it allows creators to specify more flexible forms of copyright allowing others to copy, distribute, and use their work. One condition of all CC licenses is attribution.

Creative Commons specifics images

 

 

 

 

 

The Licenses

Creative Commons offers six copyright licenses:

Attribution (CC BY)

 

For users

Find CC licensed content to reuse in the Creative Commons Search Portal

Best practices for attribution - this is the one condition of all CC licenses. Make sure to include the following elements:

  • Title
  • Author, with a link to their profile page when available
  • Source, with a link to the original work (likely a platform or repository)
  • License, with a link to the license deed (links at the bottom of this Creative Commons licenses page)

Recommended OER Attribution - TASL format: “Content Title” from Encompassing Container Title, Version, by Author © Copyright date [Alternate owner if different from Author] is licensed with License [URL of license description]. Access at DOI or permalink or URL. Additional Publisher notes or licensing requirements. Examples (by Val Magno at Fox Valley TC):

  • “12 Introduction to Gender, Sex, and Sexuality,” from Introduction to Sociology 2e, by  © May 28, 2018 OpenStax CNX is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/] Download for free at http://cnx.org/contents/02040312-72c8-441e-a685-20e9333f3e1d@9.6
  • Chapter cited APA: OpenStax CNX. (2018). Introduction to Gender, Sex, and Sexuality. In Introduction to Sociology 2e (Ch. 12). Retrieved from  http://cnx.org/contents/02040312-72c8-441e-a685-20e9333f3e1d@9.6
  • Chapter cited MLA: OpenStax CNX. "12 Introduction to Gender, Sex, and Sexuality." Introduction to Sociology 2e, cnx.org/contents/02040312-72c8-441e-a685-  20e9333f3e1d@9.6  Accessed 01 June 2018.

 

For Creators

A CC license makes your work re-usable on your terms.  Creative Commons offers an abundance of information on how to license your material and what the different licenses allow in terms of usage and redistribution.  

Choose a license with this tool that helps you determine which Creative Commons License is right for you

Share your work in a Creative Commons platform

The following video from the Wikimedia Foundation provides a brief, yet informative overview of CC licensing.

 

Fair Use and its Factors

Copyright law regulates the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works.  A simple way to provide access to copyright-protected materials is to link to them rather than reproduce the content.  Doing so works particularly well for materials that are available in library databases as other works that are available for free (but not freely licensed) on legitimate websites.

When linking to material is not possible, the fair use doctrine of Copyright Law allows a limited amount of copying for purposes such as teaching and scholarship.  In determining Fair Use, the factors to be considered include:

  • The purpose and character of the use--including whether such use is a commercial nature or is for-profit.
  • The nature of the copyrighted work.
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyright work as a whole.
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources - part of American University's Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, this webinar series addresses that and is divided into two tracks: K-12 and Higher Education. There are also two stand-alone webinar options that can be attended by both the K-12 and Higher Education community. All of the webinars will also be available on YouTube and linked to this page after the live event has ended.

 

COVID-19 Considerations

Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists: Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research

 

For Faculty and Teaching Assistants: What You Can Do

Often you can use works in your teaching without permission or fee.This chart highlights some of those situations. However, there are othercircumstances where permission and/or fee are required (for example, whensome types of works are included in course packs). Check with your institution’slibrary or legal office for information about campus copyright policies.

Legal Status of Work Type of Materials Exhibit materials in live classroom? Post materials to an online class? Distribute readings? Create electronic reserves?
Works not copyrighted

Public Domain Works

(US Govt, pre-1924 works, and certain others) 

 

YES

 

YES

 

YES

 

YES

Copyrighted Works

Open Educational Resources (OER) and Electronic Works with a Creative Commons License
(depends on license, but usually permitted; if not, LINK)

 

 

YES

 

 

YES

 

 

YES

 

 

YES

Copyrighted Works

Your Own Works

(if you keep copyright or reserved use rights)

 

YES

 

YES

 

YES

 

YES

Copyrighted Works

Open Access Works

(works available online without license, password, or technical restriction)

 

YES

 

LINK

 

LINK

 

LINK

Copyrighted Works

Electronic Works Licensed by Your Institution

(depends on license, but usually permitted)

 

YES

 

LINK

LINK

(Most licenses also allow students to make an individual copy)

 

LINK

Copyrighted Works

Other Works

(when none of the above apply)

 

YES

YES,

if it meets either TEACH Act or Fair Use standards. If not, LINK or seek permission. 

YES,

if it meets Fair Use standards. If not, LINK or seek permission. 

YES,

if it meets Fair Use standards. If not, LINK or seek permission. 

Adapted from the brochure by the Association of Research Library, Using works in your teaching--what you can do. Tips for faculty and teaching assistants in higher education (2007)

For further clarification, consider any of the following resources:

 

UVA Copyright Team Resources

UVA Library Copyright and Scholarly Communication Resources 

This guide provides access to recommended sources of information on copyright and related issues.  UVA students, faculty, and staff who need more assistance may contact the Copyright Team

The cost savings and efficacy of open educational resources

OER are not just about lowering costs (although that is an important benefit)--they are about the ability to take what others have created and customize it for your specific needs and then share back your creation into the larger body of teaching and learning. 

A review of studies on the efficacy of open educational resources have found that a vast majority of students who use them perform as well or better than those using traditional materials. (Open Education Group, 2016. The Review Project)