Trinity Library Guide: Open Educational Resources


Welcome to the OER Initiative

“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.” [1]

The Open Education movement is built around the 5Rs of Open [2]

  • 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)

Introduction to Open Educational Resources

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

OERs are educational materials that are specifically designed by their creator/s to be openly available, and are often licensed to be re-used, re-mixed, and re-distributed.  Open is not just about low cost (though that is an important benefit of using OER) but about the ability to take what others have created, customize it for your specific educational needs, and then share your creation with others.

OERs can come in a variety of forms:

  • Primary sources – Images, video, and sound recordings.  Some  sources are in the public domain, while others have been licensed as open by their creators.   In addition, many texts that are in the public domain are available online/electronically.
  • Learning content – created content that ranges from individual lectures, animations, and assessments to complete courses and textbooks.

Why OERs?

The open resource movement has been around for a while, starting with static learning objects (about 2000), and transitioning to OERs that allowed for revision and reuse.  It is the ever increasing cost of textbooks and materials for students that is now pushing the OER movement forward.  Textbooks and learning materials cost students approximately $1,100 per year.  According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 7 in 10 students didn’t purchase a textbook because it was too expensive.  Through OERs the cost of student materials can be drastically reduced.  OERs also give instructors the ability to customize the materials, creating the “perfect” textbook instead of being bound to traditional print resources.

How to get started

The first step is finding OERs, and that is what this guide is designed to do, so check out

  • the Open Textbooks page will link you to repositories of open and free textbooks you can customize and adopt for your courses.
  • the Discipline Specific OER section will help you find content specific to your discipline, and new discipline areas will be added regularly
  • the Finding OER section will help you navigate through some different sources for OER, as well as tips for finding openly licensed images.

If you have questions about open licensing (Creative Commons Licensing), you can find out more in the Trinity Library Guide: Creative Commons site.

SPECIAL NOTE:  This page is specifically designed to introduce OERs to the university community, but don’t forget that there are electronic resources available to you through Trinity Library.  Trinity Library has licensed journals, databases, and books. These resources are restricted to University faculty, staff and students (you have to have an My Library log-in to access), they do not allow for customization and re-use in the same way as OERs. Though these are not “open”, they are resources that you can make available at not cost for your students.

Why Open Education Matters

 Understanding OER in 10 Videos


Creative Commons License

Trinity Library OER Guide is adapted under Creative Commons licensing from OU Libraries OER LibGuide for the use of the Trinity Washington University community. This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. All linked-to content adheres to its respective license.