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University Library

Open Educational Resources (OER)

This guide defines OER, provides resources for locating and using OERs, and gives an overview of the Cal Poly Pomona Affordable Learning Initiative (ALI) program.

Quick Guide to OER

 Thanks to Marilyn Billings and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Libraries for the use of the template with some modifications for this OER guide. 

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

Open Educational Resources are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly via the Internet for anyone to use and under some licenses to re-mix, customize, and redistribute.

Open Educational Resources include:

  • Learning content: full courses, course material, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals.
  • Tools: software to support the creation, delivery, use, and customization of open learning content including searching and organization of content, content and learning management systems, content development tools, and online learning communities.
  • Implementation resources: Intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localization of content.

Why OER?

OER is a relatively new movement in education; educators and learners as well as learning institutions are driving its development. OER provides an alternative to the rising costs of education and textbooks. For example, in some countries like South Africa, many educators and learners are tapping into OER as the only source for textbooks.

In September 2012 the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed into law legislation that would make possible the development of the nation’s first Open-Source Textbook Library. "The state will seek to determine the 50 most widely-taken lower-division courses in the California higher-education system. These in all likelihood, will also be some of the most widely-taken courses across the country. They will then seek to create textbooks for these courses that will be free in digital form and in print for $20 or less" (from the textbook guru).

In February 2013, the White House also came out in support of Open Access regarding the requirement to make available to the public at no charge any taxpayer-funded research.

Some educators are using OER as a way to get students more involved, using the OER process as a way to collaborate with  them on content creation. This process brings students into a larger context of learning and sharing knowledge beyond the four walls of their classroom. OER provides an opportunity to try new ways of teaching and learning, many of which are more collaborative and participatory.

Flexibility is a key concept in OER. Materials can be adapted for your specific needs.

Getting Started!

First, understand Creative Commons (CC) License. Because most OERs are under terms of Creative Commons licensing, understanding CC will help you to use OERs better.These licenses allows the creator to give permission for use beyond the normal copyright.

Second, identify yourself.  

  • If you are an educator, including professors, lecturers, and teaching assistant, etc., and want to find some teaching materials, such as syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, lab manuscripts, lab reports, and so on, please go to the tab For Educators for the selected OER .
  • If you are a learner/student and want to find free or affordable textbooks and other course materials, please use the tab For Learners for the selected OER.

Please go to the Advocacy tab for information about OER news, campaigns, grants, and training in the effective deployment of OERs. There is also information that provides opportunities for your participation as an advocate of the OER.

For more information or to request help, please contact Emma C. Gibson at or 909-869-4351.

Making Textbooks Affordable

Components of OER