Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Education Resources (2011, Dec. 22). On Open Education Resources -- Beyond Definitions. Retrieved from  Used under the Creative Commons License.

As Atkins, Brown, & Hammond (2007) write, "OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge."

OER are much more than just learning materials. They include open software tools (such as Moodle and Kaltura), and intellectual property tools (such as Creative Commons licenses). The benefits of using Public Domain materials, or having an explicit copyright license attached to a free learning resource is especially helpful for educators, as it removes the legal uncertainty and the costs and/or effort of getting copyright clearance for resources that you may want to use. In addition, it can make it easier to find free and open materials for your courses. For example, many search engines now have plug-ins that limit results to materials with open use Creative Commons licenses.

Atkins, Daniel E., John Seely Brown, and Alan L.Hammond. A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement. February2007.  
Page content adapted from Laura Sederberg,
CSU, Chico.

Creative Commons, The Public Domain, and Licensed Electronic Resources

CC logo

Creative Commons - a nonprofit organization that works "to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in “the commons” — the body of work that is available to the public for free and legal sharing, use, repurposing, and remixing."

Creative Commons licenses provide a way for people to share their work and make it available for others to build on and reuse. It is free to download, adapt, distribute, and transmit without having to ask permission. Depending on the license, however, there may be certain conditions: you may only be able to use the content for educational purposes, you may have to give attribution, etc. Because licenses vary, always be sure to check the exact terms of the license before using an image.

   Attribution: others can use the work however they like, so long as they give credit

   No Derivative Work: other can copy, display, or perform your work, but it must be verbatim

   Non-Commercial: other can use your work, but for non-commercial purposes only

   Share Alike: others can distribute derivative works, but only under the same terms as the original license

Check out the Creative Commons website for more information and details about CC licenses.

The term “public domain” refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it.

Adapted from the Stanford University Libraries

Wichita State University Libraries, 1845 Fairmount, Wichita, KS 67260-0068 | Phone: (316) 978-3481 | Comments/Suggestions | Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube Channel Federal Depository Library Program HathiTrust Digital Library Patent and Trademark Resources Centers