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Open Educational Resources

A guide to help faculty find and use Open Educational Resources.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The following are answers or links to more info to answer frequently asked questions about open educational resources and open-access resources in general.

If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact Travis Hyzak, Information Literacy & Digital Learning Librarian, or your liaison librarian.

How does licensing for OER work?

Using OER

Most open educational resources are governed by a Creative Commons license. Most of these enable you to use materials without requesting permission as long as you attribute the original creator. Some of these licenses allow you to adopt, change, copy, or even sell materials, while some license restrict how you can use materials. You'll need to check the license for any specific OER you want to use to determine how you can use it.

Additionally, some OER are in the public domain, meaning they are not protected by any intellectual property laws and can be used by anyone without obtaining permission.

Creating OER

You are free to license materials you create however you wish. If you share your materials on an OER repository, you will have the choice to designate which license you would like to apply when you upload your materials.

For a more comprehensive overview of open licenses, see "What are Creative Commons and Open Licences?" from Open Ed at BC Campus.

Does OER just mean it's free?

OER enable you to edit and share materials in ways you can't with other types of freely available content. For example, you could link to a website students can access for free, but you can't necessarily download, revise, redistribute, or retain that content in ways that are the most pedagogically useful. However, with OER, you could adapt materials for your specific class however you see fit.

Is the quality of OER as high as that of commercial products?

Just like with commercial products, the quality of OER varies wildly. However, there is nothing inherent to OER that would reduce their quality, just as there is nothing inherent to commercial textbooks and materials that ensures high quality. Many OER are peer-reviewed or rated by other faculty members. Additionally, unlike commercial materials, if there are aspects of an OER that do not meet your standards, you are welcome to change it to meet your and your students' needs.

While a few studies have shown a negative correlation between OER and student performance, mixed results, or inconclusive findings, the overwhelming majority of studies on OER show “consistently high levels of academic quality and efficacy” (Jenkins et al., 2020) (see also Collins et al., 2020; Colvard et al., 2018; Croteau, 2017)

Who can help me start using OER for my course?

Your subject librarian can help you identify high-quality OER to use for your courses. You can also reach out to Travis Hyzak, Information Literacy & Digital Learning Librarian.