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Open Educational Resources (OER) for Educators

Adopt and adapt resources published with an open licence to enhance your teaching and increase student access to materials

What are OER?

Open Educational Resources (OER) support equitable and inclusive learning and teaching practices by providing materials that can be freely used, shared, and adapted. 

OER is frequently used to refer to textbooks but can apply to any educational materials, including learning objects, lecture notes, images, video, music and audio clips, subject or course syllabi, and courseware.

This video by UNESCO explains the Open Educational Resources concept (UNESCO, 2022). (0:58)

How can OER benefit educators and students?

OER enhance and supplement your existing education materials. They can be customised, expanded and updated to suit specific course requirements, reflect new knowledge and respond to student feedback. OER can be adapted to incorporate local perspectives and allow the recognition of groups and individuals often excluded from the academic sphere. 

For students, the use of OER reduces the cost barrier to education. They can also be used to support active learning and partnership with students, encouraging deeper engagement and learning. 

James Glapa-Grossklag, the Dean of Educational Technology from the College of the Canyons in Southern California talks about the importance of Open Educational Resources during a visit to RMIT. (3:14)

What is NOT an OER?

If a resource is not free and openly licensed, it cannot be described as an OER. Here are some common resources that are not necessarily OER:

  • Materials freely available on the web - Unfortunately, most resources on the Internet are closed resources, even if they are available for free. Materials that are under full copyright, or which are not accompanied by a specific licence allowing anyone to copy, adapt and share them, are not OER. You can use these materials only within the copyright exceptions in your country.
  • Library subscription materials - most materials accessed through a library’s subscriptions cannot be altered, remixed, or redistributed and therefore cannot be considered “open.”
  • Open Access resources - OER are a subset of OA materials, but not all OA materials can be considered OER. Open access typically refers to materials released under an open licence that allows for free access and use. However, they sometimes do not allow for adaptation and remixing. Authors may retain their copyright or assign rights to publishers, so permission may be needed for copying and adaptation. Learn more about Open Access in the Library's Open Access Toolkit

Always check the license conditions are any material you want to use. Find out more in the Evaluating OER page of this guide.


 Except for logos, Canva designs or where otherwise indicated, content in this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.