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Copyright Center for CPS Online (UNH Manchester Library): Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER): Are freely accessible, openly licensed resources that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes. OER are still under copyright, but have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others, or reside in the public domain. Following are descriptions of the two most common types of OER:

  1. Open Textbooks: Open textbooks are typically authored by faculty and published on the web with the support of universities or new commercial companies. The textbook authors retain copyright. Open textbooks are usually governed by Creative Commons licenses that enable users to download, customize or print the textbook without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.
  2. OER Everything Else [digital learning objects]: These include documents, video, lesson plans, courses, software, games, etc. NOTE: OER do not have to be in digital format, but for GSC purposes the bulk of OER faculty use are in digital format.

Because the legal use of OER is associated with the correct identification of OER, it is important to know how to recognize them. The GSC Library uses the definition of OER most accepted by librarians and others well-versed in the role of OER in higher education. That is, OER are freely accessible, openly licensed resources that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes. OER reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Following are descriptions of the three most common types of OER. Simply finding a resource on the web that is not copyrighted does not constitute an OER.

The best way to identify an OER is by using one of the large OER repositories. You can find lists of OER search engines, repositories, and collections in the CPS Open Education Guide.

Below are the creative commons licenses you will commonly see and what they mean.