What is OER in Education?

OER in education are tools and resources that are freely available for anyone to use, without restriction.

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What is OER?

OER stands for Open Educational Resources. 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. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

The term “open” in OER refers to the notion of removing barriers to the use of educational resources—including legal barriers (such as copyright and licensing restrictions) and technological barriers (such as the need for expensive proprietary software). When OER are open they can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose.

What are the benefits of using OER?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that are freely available online for anyone to use. OER can include textbooks, lectures, assignments, and other resources. Many educators believe that OER has the potential to improve teaching and learning by providing educators with more flexible and affordable resources. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using OER in education.


One of the primary benefits of using OER is the potential cost-savings for students. According to a report from the US Department of Education, the use of open textbooks could save students up to $50 per course, or $1,000 over the course of their degree.

In addition to the cost savings for students, the use of OER can also lead to increased efficiencies and effectiveness in faculty development and professional learning. When faculty members adopt or adapt OER, they often report feeling more creative and empowered in their teaching.

Increased access to high-quality resources

One of the main benefits of using OER is that it can help increase access to high-quality resources for learners around the world. OER are typically released under an open license, which means that anyone can use and adapt them according to their needs. This makes it possible for OER to be translated into different languages and customized to meet the needs of different learners.

Another benefit of using OER is that they can help reduce the cost of education. Because OER are freely available online, learners and educators do not need to pay for them. This can be a particularly important benefit for learners in developing countries who may not have access to traditional educational resources.

Finally, OER can help promote collaboration and sharing among educators. When educators create or use OER, they often do so with the intention of sharing them with others. This means that OER can serve as a starting point for new innovations in education.

Flexibility and customization

One of the main benefits of OER is that they can be flexibly customized to meet the needs of individual learners. This means that educators can adapt and modify OER to better meet the needs of their students, and that learners can choose which resources they use and how they use them. This flexibility can result in a more personalized and effective learning experience for each student.

Improved teaching and learning

One of the main benefits of using Open Educational Resources (OER) is that they can help improve teaching and learning. OER can provide high-quality, flexible, and customizable resources that can be used to support a variety of instructional approaches. OER can also help promote more active and collaborative learning experiences, as well as provide opportunities for students to create and share their own content.

In addition to improving teaching and learning, OER can also help save money on textbook and other course materials costs. Many colleges and universities have adapted their policies to allow for the use of OER in order to help put more resources back into students’ hands.

How can OER be used in the classroom?

Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license. OER can be used in the classroom to supplement or replace traditional materials. OER can be tailored to fit the specific needs of a course or instructor, and they can be updated more easily and quickly than traditional materials.

In the traditional classroom

OER can be used by teachers in the traditional classroom in a couple of ways. The first way is that teachers can use OER as they would any other resource, by finding and selecting materials to use with their students. The second way is for teachers to create their own OER materials to use with their students or to share with other educators.

When using OER in the traditional classroom, it is important to keep in mind the three R’s of copyright: respect, recognize, and refrain. This means that you should respect the creator’s copyright by only using the materials as allowed under copyright law, recognizing the creator’s rights when using or sharing OER, and refraining from infringing on copyright when using or sharing OER.

In the flipped classroom

In a flipped classroom, students engage with content-based videos and readings outside of class, and then use class time to do the more active, engaging work of problem-solving, applications, and collaboration. Because OER are freely available online and often released under an open license, they can provide an ideal resource for the flipped classroom model. OER can be aligned to specific learning outcomes and topics, and they can be Things like:

OER can help you with:

In the online classroom

OER in the online classroom take many different forms. It can be a ready-made lesson plan, complete with materials, that a teacher can use “as is” or adapt to her own students’ needs. It can be a short video clip or simulation that illustrates a concept. It can be an image or set of primary source documents that support history or social studies instruction. It can be a science experiment that uses inexpensive, everyday materials. Whatever the form, OER provide limitless opportunities for educators to find, adapt, and use high-quality resources to support student learning.

Are there any challenges to using OER?

OER (Open Educational Resources) 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. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

Finding high-quality OER

One challenge to using OER is finding materials that are high quality and appropriate for your needs. While anyone can create and put OER online, not all of it is created equally. Some OER may be outdated, inaccurate, or simply not relevant to what you’re looking for.

Another challenge is that because OER is free and open to everyone, it can be difficult to find specific resources when there are millions of results in a search engine. This is where librarians can be especially helpful in finding and evaluating high-quality OER.

Ensuring OER are accessible

There are a few potential challenges to using OER in education. One is ensuring that the OER are accessible to everyone who needs them. This can be a challenge if the OER are only available online, as not everyone has reliable internet access. Another challenge is finding high-quality OER, as there is a lot of content available online that is not created by experts or that is out-of-date. Finally, it can be challenging to use OER in face-to-face teaching environments, as they are not always well-suited to this format.

Addressing the digital divide

The digital divide is a growing concern in the world of education. OER can help educators address this problem by providing free and low-cost resources that can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. However, some OER materials may not be accessible to everyone due to the digital divide. This is a problem that needs to be addressed in order to make OER truly accessible to all.


While OER in education is a fairly new concept, it is one that is gaining traction and support from many different corners. From school districts and individual teachers to major education organizations and institutions, there is a growing recognition of the potential that OER has to transform education for the better. As more resources become available and more people get on board with the idea, it is likely that OER will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of education.

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