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Open Educational Resources: Definition

What is "Open?"

Open Educational Resources and Open Access materials are resources used for teaching, learning, and research purposes. These resources are published under a Creative Commons or other Open license to increase availability and mitigate access restrictions. In most cases, these resources are online, digital, and immediately available for use. As the instructor, Openly licensed educational materials allow you to:

Adapted from Open Educational Resources: Welcome by Northwestern Michigan College (CC BY 4.0).

Differences Between OA and OER

OA meaning Open Access. OA refers to academic e-books and scholarly journals published in the public domain or under an Open license.

OER stands for Open Educational Resources. We use OER to describe Open teaching and learning materials more broadly. In addition to OA academic e-books and journals, these can include assignments, courses, and other ancillary materials used for instruction and planning purposes.

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When discussing copyright or Open matters with a librarian, we may not always be able to give you a definitive answer. Intellectual property laws are very complex and rarely straightforward. If you are concerned about a specific resource, chances are you will find yourself deliberating over its intended use. And although we cannot offer you legal advice because we are not lawyers, we can direct you to information resources that will hopefully help you understand intellectual property a bit more clearly. If you have any questions, please ask us.