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Open Educational Resources @ UW Tacoma: Learn About OER

Resources for adopting, adapting, and writing open educational resources (OER).

An Introduction to Open Educational Resources

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are openly-licensed, freely available educational materials that can be modified and redistributed by users. They can include any type of educational resource, from syllabi to full courses.

  • Openly-licensed: The resources come with a set of authorized permissions from the rightholder of the work to any and all users. See The 5 Rs info below for more details.
  • Freely Available: The resources must be freely available online with no fee to access. Physical OER may be sold at a low cost to facilitate printing.
  • Modifiable: The resource must be made available under an open license that allows for editing.

The definition above was adapted from The OER Starter Kit by Abbey K. Elder and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The 5 Rs of Open Education

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:

  1. Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. 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)
  3. Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. 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)
  5. 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

Starting Points

These guides include information for entry level users, including explanations of key concepts, introductions to open licenses, and tips for differentiating OER from other kinds of free content.