What We Mean When We Say “Open”
All OER materials are free. Not all free materials are OER. An important distinction is the copyright license that the material has been given.
To truly be OER, the learning materials must be either found in the public domain or be licensed in a way that allows for re-use, re-mixing, and re-distributing. Many things that are free on the web still have a traditional copyright—meaning you can’t make changes without permission from the owner.
A good test to see if something is OER it to determine if the license allows for the 5 Rs as described by OpenContent.org :
- Retain: make, own, and control copies of the content
- Reuse: use the content in a wide range of ways
- Revise: adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself
- Remix: combine original or revised content with other material to create something new
- Redistribute: share copies of the original content, revisions, or remixes with others
Creative Commons Licenses
Creative Commons licenses are the most widely used licenses for open educational resources. Rather than replacing copyright, Creative Commons licenses work on top of copyright, allowing the creator to be more flexible with how they share their work and how it may be used by others, while still retaining some control over the original.
These four Creative Commons licenses components can be combined to offer creators a wide range of licensing options.
- CC BY – Credit must be given to the creator
- CC BY-SA – Adaptations must be shared under the same terms
- CC BY-NC – Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted
- CC BY-ND – No derivatives or adaptations of the work are permitted
This chart shows the six license combinations and their conditions for use:
[Source: “ Creative Commons Licenses Infographic ” by ricardo56 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 ]
- The OER Starter Kit
This starter kit has been created to provide instructors with an introduction to the use and creation of OER. The text is broken into five sections: Getting Started, Copyright, Finding OER, Teaching with OER, and Creating OER.
- Faculty OER Toolkit
The Faculty OER Toolkit is an information resource about and guide to adapting and adopting OER. Included are definitions and examples, information about Creative Commons licensing, and tips on how to adapt and/or adopt OER for classroom use.
- OER Mythbusting
OER Mythbusting addresses the top seven myths about OER in North American higher education.
- An Open Education Reader
A collection of readings on open education with commentary.
- Creative Commons FAQ
Answers to frequently asked questions about Creative Commons licenses.
Still Need Help?
For more information on Creative Commons and how to interpret or use open licenses, visit the Creative Commons site or schedule an appointment with a librarian.