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University Library DePaul Library

Defining OER

Open Educational Resources are teaching resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and which also carry legal permission for open use, which allows anyone to freely use, adapt and share the resource.

The 5Rs

The open nature of OERs is often described as the "5Rs." The open licensing allows users to do the following with these materials:

  • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

OER Search Engines

OER Repositories

OER Evaluation

Here are a few rubrics and questions you might use in the evaluation process. If these processes seems lengthy, think about the process you follow to review textbooks and other materials for your course. You can use a similar or modified evaluation process.

  1. Does this OER cover the content you'd like your students to learn in this course or module?
  2. How accessible is this content? Will it be accessible for your students, or is it too technical? Or is it robust and challenging enough for your students?
  3. How can you use the content? Verify the license that the resource is under. Can you remix or revise the OER as long as it isn't for commercial purposes? 
  4. What would you like to do with it? Does only a portion of it apply to your class? Would you possibly want to combine this OER with another OER or resource? Does the library have access to articles that could act as supplemental readings? 
  5. As you collect more OER and other resources, save them in a central location. Take note of how you envision using them. Align these resources with the learning objectives and weekly lessons on your syllabus in order to identify gaps. 

Creative Commons

You'll know that materials are OERs if they use Creative Commons licenses, which work alongside copyright to allow individuals to share works. There are several types of licenses, and the Creative Commons website provides additional clarification. The graphic below offers a visual explanation of the licenses:


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Kelly Hallisy