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Open Educational Resources: FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about OER

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

  • Open Educational Resources (OER) are resources that are created for educational purposes by educators, students, tutors, and self-learners to use for teaching, learning, and research (Clinton). These resources are freely and immediately available, and come in "in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others" (UNESCO). OER include textbooks, short readings, modules, lesson plans, artwork, videos, music, podcasts, and more.

What is the difference between Open Access and Open Educational Resources?

  • Open Educational Resources are under the umbrella of Open Access, but are created with the explicit purpose of being used for educational purposes.

How can I start using OER in my classes?

  • There are a few ways to get started! Many professors start by incorporating some already-existing OER within their syllabi, such as textbooks, chapters, articles, videos, and modules. You may also choose to adapt these resources to fit the needs of your class better, or create an entirely new resource for your students. Other professors choose to completely revamp their syllabi to include only OER, library resources, and resources freely available online.

How does copyright work with OER? What is Creative Commons?

  • While creators of OER maintain the copyright of their work, most OER have clearly-defined licenses, whether that is through Creative Commons or from the publisher. These licenses will influence how you are able to access and use the resource. To learn more about Creative Commons Licensing, please visit our Creative Commons page. To learn more about different types of Open Access Publishing, please visit our Open Access page. We also have an in-depth guide on Copyright Basics.

I created OER for my class and I would like to share it with others. How can I do that?

  • Thank you for taking the time to create OER! This is a great accomplishment. Along with sharing directly with your department, the Libraries is happy to host or promote your OER in this guide, depending on the format. You may also want to consider sharing your resource with OpenNJ, as they are creating an extensive repository of OER created by NJ faculty.


What is the difference between OER and Inclusive Access (IA)?

  • The term "Inclusive Access" is often used interchangeably with Open Educational Resources, but it is a different model for access to textbooks and other educational materials. Inclusive Access is a for-profit procurement model where a student pays towards their tuition and fees for access to eTextbooks and other electronic resources for their courses. Learn more about IA: Inclusive Access: Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why? by Cheryl Cuillier

Who can I contact for more help?