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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.


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Affordable Learning Initiative : Working together to make course materials more affordable

Quick Guide to OER

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly via the Internet for anyone to use and under licenses to re-mix, customize, and redistribute. However, there are more extensive definitions.

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. This "will provide for the creation of free, openly licensed digital textbooks for the 50 most popular lower-division college courses offered by California colleges. In addition to making the digital textbooks available to students free of cost, the legislation requires that print copies of textbooks cost about $20. (from Creative Commons).

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 allow the creator to give permission for use beyond the normal copyright.

Second, look over the resources in the Faculty or Student tabs on the left hand navigation.

  • If you are an educator, including professors, lecturers, and teaching assistants, etc., and want to find teaching materials, such as syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, lab manuscripts, lab reports, and so on, please go to the Resources for Faculty.
  • If you are a learner/student and want to find free or affordable textbooks and other course materials, please use Resources for Students.
  • If you are interested in becoming an OER Ambassador at CPP, please review the Become an Ambassador section.