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Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are educational materials and resources that are freely accessible to use, adapt, and share. This can include, but is not limited to, formats such as: 

  • Textbooks
  • Learning modules
  • Assignments/Worksheets
  • Instructional videos
  • Syllabi 
  • Software and other digital tools. 

Why OER? 

The interest in adopting OER often comes up in response to rising textbook costs. While it is true that use of OER materials in lieu of traditional textbooks can alleviate the financial burden on students, OERs are beneficial in many other ways. The ability to share and remix materials allows for a greater exchange of information and ideas. Additionally, the ability customize content to a specific course or class can improve student engagement with the material. 

The Five Rs

The Five Rs of OER

OERs are about more than just "free" content. They're about sharing, adapting, and re-sharing content. The following permissions are granted in advance to any OER materials.

  • Retain: You have the right to make your own copies of the content
  • Reuse: You can use the content in a wide range of ways
  • Revise: You can adapt, adjust, modify , or alter the content itself
  • Remix: You can combine original or revised content with other materials; or mix with your own content to create something new. 
  • Redistribute: You can share copies of the original, or remixed, content

The core ideals of OER are: Open Access, Open Format, Open License, and Open Software. True OERs should be licensed in such a way that users are able to use and adapt the materials without limitations. Therefore, resources that are all rights reserved do not technically count as OER, even if they are free to access. Creative Commons Licenses are ideal for OERs. 

Pros & Cons

Faculty Students


  • Easier to customize materials to fit students and specific course content
  • Expand interdisciplinary teaching by integrating resources from other fields




  • Saves money on textbooks
  • Content may be more engaging than traditional materials
    • Resources tailored to specific classes


  • More time consuming to prepare
    • Takes more time to be evaluated for quality and relevance
    • Alterations/adaptions may need to be made ahead of time
  • OER authors are not compensated in the same way as traditional publishing
    • Developing OERs not be be recognized by traditional definitions of scholarship


  • Digital materials may not work well for all students 
    • Not all students have stable Internet connection
    • Some students learn better with physical materials


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Use of RIT resources is reserved for current RIT students, faculty and staff for academic and teaching purposes only.
Please contact your librarian with any questions.

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