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What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with intellectual property licenses that facilitate the free use, adaptation and distribution of resources. Materials used for OER include:

  • Learning objects (quizzes, crossword puzzles, flashcards, animations, etc.)
  • Audio lectures, sounds and music
  • Video lectures
  • Images
  • Course content and open courseware
  • Collections of journal articles and institutional repositories
  • Textbooks

Colorado is leading the way in OER adoption, which has been shown to foster innovation, reduce costs and boost student success. Visit the CDHE’s OER Referatory to learn about the open resources being used in Colorado by grantees and others.

How does it work?

The term OER generally refers only to digital resources and, as such, tends to focus on usage in online or hybrid learning environments, though electronic content can certainly be used in face-to-face environments as well. Each resource is issued under a license that spells out how it can be used – Some materials may only be used in their original form; in other cases, learning resources can be modified, remixed, and redistributed. OER are typically found in collections or repositories. These can be offerings from a single institution, such as when a college or university makes available online the resources from its courses, or they can be collections of materials gathered from individuals or departments from a wide range of separate institutions. Instructors and individual learners can download OER and use them in formal or informal learning situations, and one of the hallmarks of OER is their flexibility – many are modular in nature, allowing them to be used in novel combinations to suit particular learning activities. Because open resources are so malleable, they can be adapted to keep pace not only with new technologies but also with changes to academic disciplines and teaching methods. Depending on the resource, these updates might be made by the creator or by users of the resource.

Source: EDUCAUSE, 7 things you should know about Open Educational Resources