Open Educational Resources: Introduction

If you create learning and teaching material, you need information about copyright and licenses. Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials of any kind and in any medium that are published under an open license.

Such an open or free license allows free access as well as free use, editing, and redistribution by others with little or no restrictions. OER can include individual materials but also complete courses or books. Any medium can be used. Curricula, course materials, textbooks, streaming videos, multimedia applications, podcasts - all these resources are OER if they are published under an open license.

There is no specific requirement for the choice of license. De facto, the licenses of Creative Commons (CC) have prevailed. These are legally secure, both internationally and in Germany. In 2016, there are already about 1.2 billion pieces of content on the web under a CC license (State of the Commons Report 2016).

There are various CC licenses to choose from, which impose different restrictions. If you take the definition above seriously, then only three options fall under “with no or minor restrictions”:

  • CC BY: Here, the name of the author must be mentioned when the work is reused.
  • CC BY SA: Here, the name of the author must be mentioned when reusing the material. AND: If you remix, modify or otherwise build directly on the material, you may only distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.
  • There is also the option of releasing your own works into the public domain. To mark this clearly there is the CC0 (CC Zero).

Details about the licenses can be found on the Creative Commons website Creative Commons.

With OER, educational materials can be used, edited, supplemented or created. Different platforms around the world offer OER and many search engines allow a targeted license search. OER are not only profitable for teachers, but also for learners. OER offers several advantages:

  • OER is available to everyone worldwide
  • Through digitization and networking, material can be widely distributed and shared
  • OER enables a new kind of collaboration
  • Equal opportunities in education
  • Time saved in the exchange and reuse of teaching/learning materials
  • Educational materials can be created, updated, edited and perfected together

When creating teaching and learning materials, these can be entirely self-generated, meaning no existing materials are used. However, it is also possible to incorporate existing materials, such as graphics or textual content, during the creation process. Guidance on what to consider when creating OER materials can be found in the guide: How-to guide: Creating OER.

If existing OER material is used to create teaching and learning material, care must be taken when using it to ensure that it is licensed. The Open Educational Resources: Using Existing OER guide (How-to guide: Using OER) describes what else to look out for when using OER material and where to find OER materials.

On you can find extensive information. In addition to information, practical tips and references to good practice examples can be found here. In order to make the individual aspects around the topic of OER as clearly accessible as possible, the topics can be found via the navigation according to chapters on the educational areas as follows:

  • Overview
  • OER Showcase
  • OER Benefits
  • Using OERs: How-To-Guide
  • Creating OERs: How-To-Guide
  • Guidance

Note: This guide was created in collaboration with the Project ValiDE. The materials were developed by ValiDE and prepared and transferred for the Zendiwiki by TEgoDi.