Open Educational Resources

For statutory purposes, the most useful definition of Open Educational Resources (OER) is provided by the Hewlett Foundation:
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 and 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.
In the Hewlett as well as all other definitions, OER are defined as a form of intellectual property (IP). IP comes in two basic forms: 
  • Proprietary, consisting of IP subject to private ownership and governance through one or more of the contractual licensing mechanisms of copyright, patent, trademark, and know-how; or 
  • Public domain, consisting of IP not subject to private ownership or governance. Common forms of public domain IP include facts: (names, dates, places, etc.); formerly proprietary materials on which protections such as patents or copyrights have expired; and data published by the government or other parties for general benefit.

For more information, please see the Hewlett Foundation's webpage on OERs in addition to this Hewlett Foundation report on OERs, written by D. E. Atkins, J. S. Brown, & A. L. Hammond.

Open Educational Resources are licensed for use and repurposing at no fee, in perpetuity.

Repurposing includes:

  • Revising: adapt and improve the OER so it better meets your instructional and learning needs

  • Reusing: freely use the original resource as is or an adapted version of the OER

  • Remixing: combine the OER with other OER to produce new resources

  • Redistributing: share the original OER or your new version with others

Content is not OER if it:

  • Imposes time limits on any of the rights (subscription)

  • Reserves any of the rights to the creator/owner

  • Charges for any of the rights (reasonable charges to cover dissemination costs such as print-on-demand are acceptable)

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that offers free, simple copyright licenses that allow for easy sharing and use of copyrighted works. Copyrighted works that have Creative Commons licenses applied to them typically allow for free use with some required stipulations such as non-commercial use or the attribution of the original creator. Please see the Creative Commons licenses webpage for information regarding specific Creative Commons licenses and the meaning of their attributes.

The Creative Commons Education Projects webpage lists and describes some Open Educational Resources that utilize Creative Commons licensing.


Open Access Journals

The Directory of Open Access Journals is an online directory that indexes and provides access to peer-reviewed, open access journals. These journals are freely available to users and institutions, and can be downloaded, printed, linked, and distributed. Please see the DOAJ About page for more information regarding the criteria required and uses allowed by the DOAJ.


More Information

Creating OER and Combining Licenses Part 1, produced by Florida Virtual Campus

The below video presents a step-by-step processes of finding and selecting open educational resources (OER) to use in a derivative work, choosing a Creative Commons license, and applying the license to the work.

Creating OER and Combining Licenses Part 2, produced by Florida Virtual Campus

The below video continues Part 1 and explores the challenges of using and remixing open educational resources (OER) with different Creative Commons licenses in a derivative work. It examines the restrictions of each license element, and illustrates how solutions can be found when licenses are incompatible.



UKnowledge is a digital collection of unique scholarship created by University of Kentucky faculty, staff, students, departments, research centers, and administration. Created and managed by UK Libraries, UKnowledge supports multidisciplinary collaboration and captures, stores, organizes, preserves and provides worldwide access to UK’s intellectual capital.

Kentucky Learning Depot

The Kentucky Learning Depot is Kentucky’s P-20 repository for quality digital learning content.

The Orange Grove – Florida’s Digital Repository

The Orange Grove repository, is Florida's digital repository for instructional resources. The repository provides an environment for educators to search for, use, remix, share, and contribute educational resources. The repository can also be integrated with your Learning Management Systems (e.g., Canvas, Desire 2 Learn, Canvas).

OER Commons

The Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management (ISKME) created OER Commons in 2007 to support and build a knowledge base around the use and reuse of open educational resources (OER).


Connexions is a dynamic digital educational ecosystem consisting of an educational content repository and a content management system optimized for the delivery of educational content. Its more than 17,000 learning objects or modules in its repository and over 1000 collections (textbooks, journal articles, etc.) are used by over 2 million people per month.


Open.Michigan is a University of Michigan initiative that enables faculty, students, and others to share their educational resources and research with the global learning community.


Please contact Distance Learning Library Services via email with any suggestions of OERs to add to our list.