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Open Educational Resources (OER) and Free Tools: What Are OER?

The what, why, and how of OER.

OER Definition

According to Creative Commons, OER are teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

  • Retain – make, own, and control a copy of the resource
  • Reuse – use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly
  • Revise – edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource
  • Remix – combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new
  • Redistribute – share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others

Open Education by Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Types of OER

OER can be any type of material or resource used for teaching and learning that is free to use and/or alter.

OER include many types of resources in different media and formats:

Categories and types of OER

  • lesson plans
  • course materials
  • modules
  • student guides
  • teaching notes
  • textbooks
  • research articles
  • videos
  • assessment tools and instruments
  • simulations
  • role plays
  • databases
  • software
  • apps

Types of OER by Sarah Guy is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.


An Introduction to Open Educational Resources

A brief intro to the what, why, and how of OER.

Further Reading

For further assistance, please contact us!
Shaw University Libraries - James E. Cheek Learning Resources Center
118 E. South Street - Raleigh, NC 27609
919-546-8407 -

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.