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Open Educational Resources (OER): About Open Educational Resources (OER)

This guide is designed to educate and inform users on matters relating to open education.


"Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions" (William + Flora Hewlett Foundation [n.d.]).

Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources

The terms "open content" and "open educational resources" describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like "open source") that is either (1) in the public domain or (2) licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)

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 material 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)

This material was created by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at


“Why OER” video by The Council of Chief State School Officers. Video: CC BY 4.0 Music: The Zeppelin by Blue Dot Sessions: CC BY NC 4.0.

OER Knowledge Cloud

The OER Knowledge Cloud is an initiative of the UNESCO/COL Chair in OER at Athabasca University and the UNESCO Chair in OER at the Open University of the Netherlands designed to gather together all publications that relate to OER.


This guide was originally created by Scott Sandberg during his time as a librarian at Indiana University Northwest. The librarian listed here currently oversees OER for IU Northwest, and has made some changes to the content of this guide over time.


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Scott Hudnall
John W. Anderson Library
3400 Broadway
Gary, IN 46408
(219) 980-6931