Lesson 1: Understanding OER?


Learning Objectives

  • By the end of this lesson, you will be able to define OER and to explain the different creative common lisences

In this lesson you will:

  • Review an Introduction of OER resource
  • Read about the different types of Creative Commons licenses.
  • Identify different Creative Commons materials and explain how that material will be used.



What is OER

The creation of OER began in the early 2000s. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) is at the forefront of the OER movement. UNESCO believes, “universal access to high quality education is key to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic development, and intercultural dialogue” (UNESCO, 2017). UNESCO original defined OER as “educational resources enabled by information and communication technologies for consultation, use and adoption by a community of users for noncommercial purposes” (as cited by Hilton III, Wiley, Stein, & Johnson, 2010, p.3). Bissell (2009) defines OER as “digitized materials offered freely and openly for educators, students, and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning, and research” (p. 97). Basically, OER are any educational materials that are found in the Public Domain or are openly-licensed for public use. With the continual increasing advancements in technology, OER is allowing educators to develop and share educational content not just nationally but globally (Casell et al., 2008, p.2). A promising aspect of OER is there overall ability to allow different cultures equal access to educational resources in order to create, to share, and to learn in their own context (Geith and Vignare, 2008, p.122).

There are 5Rs associated with OER. SUNY OER Services defines the 5R as:

  1. Retain: Find, save, and use OER content.
  2. Reuse: Use OER content as it exists currently.
  3. Revise: Adapt, adjust, and modify existing OER content
  4. Remix: Combine multiple pieces to make something new
  5. Redistribute: Share your OER with others

As stated by Hilton III et al. (2010) “However, open is not a light switch but a dimmer with different levels of openness” (p.5). Not all OER are created equally. Some resources are more open than others. All open sources may be used, copied, and distributed without the permission of the creator. Resources that correspond with all 5Rs are the most open. To determine the openness of a resource, the type of license associated with the materials must be understood. Open license are the backbone of OER and, rather than asking permission as with the case of copyrighted material, many of the open licenses have fewer user restrictions (Bissell, 2009). Most licenses obtained by OER creators are done so through Creative Commons. Agosti et al. (2011) explain that, “The Creative Commons (CC) licenses are a suite of copyright-based licenses defining the terms for the distribution and re-use of creative work” (p. 127). Bissell (2009) indicates that, “Creative Commons license say, ‘some rights reserved” instead of all rights reserved’” (p.100). There are six commonly used Creative Commons Licenses associated with OER summarized in the figure below.


Figure from "Creative Common Licenses Quick Reference", SUNY OER Services is licensed under CC BY 4.0 Creative commons


Learning Activities

There are three activities to complete for this unit:

1. Read the following information: http://opencontent.org/definition/. In small groups, discuss your understanding of the 5Rs of OER and the pros and cons of OER use in the classroom.

  • Your discussion will take place as a creation of 3 slides per group using Google Presentation. 1 slide is your group's understanding or 5Rs, 1 slide pros, and 1 slide cons. Access the link here: Group Sharing

2. While exploring the following website how-to-find-creative-commons-licensed-materials, explain your understanding of the following information to another participant in this course from a different discipline:

  • What is your understanding of Creative Commons
  • How would you search Google and YouTube for Creative Commons materials?
  • How does a Creative Common license differ from Copyright?

3. Go to the following links and identify the type of CC license that is associated with the page, image, or video? What are you allowed to do and not to do with the information on these pages?


Reflected on your understanding of OER and Creative Commons. How are the two connected? Where do you see the future of education with the availability of OER?

Post your reflection here.

Connect to other parts of the course

Lesson 2: Use of OER in the Classroom

Lesson 3: OER resources

Terri Burke: Exploring Open Educational Resources