Open Educational Resources in Higher Education

Definition of Open

4R's of Open-ness

Re-use: Right to copy and use verbatim copies.

Revise: Right to adapt, rework and improve.

Remix: Right to combine into new OERs (open educational resources).

Redistribute: Right to share copies.

Free ≠ Open!

Many resources (for example, books digitized by the Internet Archive) are free to use, but not necessarily open. They may still be under copyright, and don't meet the Four Rs of "openness". And to be an OER, while it must be "free" to the user, it isn't free to the producer or the site that hosts the resource. A variety of creative sustainable economic models to create both free and open resources are being/have been developed.


The Open Textbook Forum -- great overview of open texts and open courseware, a 60 minute (followed by questions) webcast for and by faculty (from UC Irvine).

Directory of Open Access Scholarly Journals in Education is maintained by ERGO (Education Research Global Observatory)  to  promote and disseminate open access  scholarship in education.

The Open Course: Through the Open Door Open Courses as Research, Learning, and Engagement by Dave Cormier and George Siemens.

The Open Future: Openness as a Catalyst for Educational Reformation, by David Wiley.

The Open Educational Resources Movement: Current Status and Prospects by Gary Matkin, UCI.

Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace reports on a series of online forums on OER organised by UNESCO.

Seven Things You Should Know About Open Textbook Publishing (EDUCAUSE, March 2011)

Definition of OER

According to UNESCO, the term Open Educational Resources  was coined in July 2002 at the UNESCO-hosted Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries and defined OER as:

The open provision of educational resources, enabled by information and communication technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for noncommercial purposes

There is some controversy over whether they must also be "free to use", but the US Dept of Education clarifies that "Open Educational Resources (OER) are an important element of an infrastructure for learning. OER come in forms ranging from podcasts to digital libraries to textbooks, games, and courses. They are freely available to anyone over the web."

Berkeley Context

The skyrocketing cost of textbooks is a crucial issue for students nationally and locally. In response, UC Berkeley created the Joint Task Force on Textbook and Reader Affordability in Spring 2009 to look at ways to reduce the costs of course materials for Berkeley students. A final report was released by the Task Force in June 2010, and an implementation Task Force has recently been appointed to address the recommendations which include exploration of "an open access/ content model, which is predicated on open and cross-platform readers such as the forthcoming Blio reader and in models pursued by open textbook vendors such as FlatWorld Knowledge . Note: UC Berkeley will become one of the first higher education beta test sites for Blio which could be a game changer for the e-text market/experience."

UC Berkeley is a member of the OCW Consortium and the campus participates in Opencast Community Project, an open source platform for the development and distribution of video and audio content. Lecture content is also available via, iTunes University and YouTube.

OER CA context

Open Educational Resources Center for California  established by the state legislature to collect open and free course materials for use by California’s community colleges.

Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources created to identify, create, and/or repurpose existing open educational resources as open textbooks.

California State University’s Digital Marketplace  designed to be one-stop-shopping platform for locating, selecting, and authoring digital resources.

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) "free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education"

UCI Open Courseware Project Blog from UCI, a leader within the UC's (and beyond) for OER in higher education.

Last Update: 06 Jun 17:52