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Open Educational Resources (OER): About OERs

UNESCO defines OERs as:

“Teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open licence that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions”.


Benefits of Open Educational Resources (OER)

This guide provides information on and resources to assist with the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs). 

image of the five r's reuse revise remix retail redistribute

the right to make, own, and control copies of the content

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)

the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g. translate the content into another language)

the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g. incorporate the content into a mashup)

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:

Why use OERs?

  • OERs reduce the need to create new learning materials from scratch.  
  • They provide the flexibility to adapt and customise to meet specific requirements.
  • OERs potentially reduce costs and increase accessibility for students. 
  • They increase opportunities for collaboration. 

OER and open access

What is the difference between OER and open access?

Open Access refers to scholarly material that is freely available under an open licence and usually found in Open Access journals and institutional repositories.

Open Educational Resources are teaching resources that are freely available under an open licence and are typically reusable. The two are closely related and the key differences are the adaptation of resources allowed with OERs and the broader range of resources that are thought of as OERs. 

For more information on Open Access see the Open Access Guide.

Why create OER's?

There are many case studies online describing the benefits of creating OERs:

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Creative Commons Licence
Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 International License. Content from this Guide should be attributed to James Cook University Library. This does not apply to images, third party material (seek permission from the original owner) or any logos or insignia belonging to JCU or other bodies, which remain All Rights Reserved.