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Image: UNU-ViE_SCIENTIA, color inverted; CC License: Some Rights Reserved

About OER

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

Open Educational Resources are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone to use and under some licenses to re-mix, improve, and redistribute.

Open Educational Resources include:

  • Learning content: full courses, course material, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals.
  • Tools: software to support the creation, delivery, use, and improvement of open learning content including searching and organization of content, content and learning management systems, content development tools, and online learning communities.
  • Implementation resources: Intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localization of content.

Why OER?

OER is a relatively new movement in education; educators and learners as well as learning institutions are driving its development. OER provides an alternative to the rising costs of education. OER also gives educators an opportunity to try new ways of teaching and learning, many of which are more collaborative and participatory.  

Some educators are using OER as a way to get students more involved, using the OER process as a way to collaborate with them on content creation. This process brings students into a larger context of learning and sharing knowledge beyond the four walls of their classroom.

Flexibility is a key concept in OER. Materials can be adapted for your specific needs. Because these materials can be searched by a wide variety of criteria, you can quickly find exactly what you need.

Getting Started

First, familiarize yourself with the Creative Commons (CC) License. Because most of OER are under terms of Creative Commons, understanding CC will help you to use OER better.

Second, select the section that best applies to you.  

  • If you are an educator, including professors, lecturers, and teaching assistants, etc., and want to find some teaching materials, such as syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, lab manuscripts, lab reports, and so on, visit the For Educators tab for the selected OER.
  • If you are a student/learner and want to find free or affordable textbooks and other course materials, visit the For Learners tab for the selected OER.

Subject Guide


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Images in this Guide

The images used in this guide were discovered via Creative Commons searches.  Accordingly, each image has been cited/credited according to its specific license.  For more information, follow the links below the images, or visit the UW-Madison Libraries' copyright research guide.