Navigating the World of OER: A Comprehensive Guide

18 Dec 2023
Open Education Resource

Open educational resources (OER) are publicly available educational resources and free learning materials that are used for teaching in schools, colleges, and universities. These can include educational materials, such as textbooks, course modules, games, videos, and any other type of learning material.

What Is Open Education Resource (OER)?

The concept of OER was first introduced with the introduction of the MIT OpenCourseWare in 2002. The concept was developed to make online learning resources freely available to all. Ever since, open education has become crucial for teachers to share their innovative teaching methods with the world. It is also one of the major reasons for the global success of E-learning.

Today, there are thousands of websites and online repositories that offer OER for free. This is an efficient way for students to access learning resources from around the world. However, schools and colleges can streamline this vast array of learning resources by using a reliable learning management system (LMS).

Open educational resources have several advantages. One of its biggest advantages is that it allows teachers to share their teaching materials and methods with other teachers and students at a global scale. It makes it easier for teachers to get prompt feedback from peers and find ways to improve their pedagogy. It is helpful for teachers to find more efficient and effective ways of teaching.

In contrast to conventional education materials that often come with restrictive copyright laws, the OER learning materials use open copyright licenses. These licenses allow for different levels of openness.

OERs can be better understood with the definition stated by David Wiley. It sets specific levels of openness for OER solutions, which include the 5Rs -

Open Educational Resource

1. Retain

Right to create, own and control copies of the OER content, such as managing, storing, copying, and downloading, etc.

2. Reuse

Right to reuse the OER content is different ways, such as in a study group or class, in a video, or on a website, etc.

3. Revise

Right to alter, adapt, or modify the original OER content, such as translating the content into another language.

4. Remix

Right to mix original or revised content with other learning materials to create a new open education learning resource, such as a mashup of multiple related content, or topic.

5. Redistribute

Right to share any type of OER (original, revised, or remixed) with others, such as sharing learning materials with other students, or teachers.

What Is The Difference Between Open Educational Resource (OER) And E-Learning?

Many people mistakenly believe that open educational resource is the same as E-learning, which is not the case. To put it simply, E-learning methods use digital OER learning materials, while OER content can be digital and printable. OERs are increasingly being integrated in advanced LMS solutions.

Open licensed education resources can be published in multiple formats, such as computer-compatible multimedia, audio and video, or paper-based text. Most OER learning materials are shared in a digital format using modern LMS platforms, but can also be shared in the printed format. A large number of OER users actually use the printable version of OER learning materials for education, especially where digitalization in education is at a basic level, such as in third-world countries.

What Is The Scope Of Open Educational Resource (OER)?

The open educational resource (OER) concept is an integral part of today’s E-learning methods. UNESCO defines Open Educational Resource as any research, teaching, and learning material regardless of its format. It includes learning resources in the public domain, or released under an open license. These resources are re-usable, can be accessed for free, adopted and redistributed by other users.

Open licensing is a special type of copyright license. It upholds the intellectual property rights of the owner, and also permits the public to use, reuse, adapt, and redistribute the educational content with others. OER becomes easier to access with modern communication technology, such as the internet. This enhances the OER’s potential for effective, inclusive and equitable access for students and teachers alike.

This is a great way to ensure that all students, regardless of their social, economic, ethnic and other diverse backgrounds, get equal opportunity to access and use OER learning materials. These learning resources are designed to fulfil the specific needs of individual students, promote innovative teaching practices, and ensure gender equality in education. Educational institutions can make it easier for students to access OERs by integrating a reliable LMS solution.

What Are The Aims Of Open Educational Resource (OER)?

The UNESCO describes several different aims and objectives of implementing open educational resource (OER) approach, which include -

Open Educational Resource

Equal Access To Quality Education

Today, proficiency in using and promoting OER is considered to be one of the prerequisites for several accreditations. For instance, an educational institution that aims to achieve SDG-4 needs to show significant investment in OER and also show the resultant improvement in academic outcomes. They are tasked to ensure that key stakeholders in education have equitable, efficient and regular access to OER materials.

This is seen as a sign that the educational institution is consistent in using high quality educational, research and program materials.

Easy Access To Learning Resources

According to the 2012 Paris OER Declaration, open licensed learning materials offer an efficient way for students to access and use high-quality educational resources. This allows students to use, reuse, adapt, create and distribute varied learning materials with ease. This includes altering, adapting, and translating original OER materials to suit varied learning, cultural and gender-sensitive concepts. It also allows teachers to modify the original OER to suit the requirements of special needs students.

Creating Effective Teaching Methods

Additionally, OERs can be combined easily with relevant teaching methods, well-defined learning goals, and diverse learning activities. This is an efficient way for teachers to broaden the teaching methods and effectiveness of the teaching method. It is also easier for students to become active participants in creating more practical and effective learning methods and materials.

Optimize Education Content

The OER system is globally accessible which makes it easier for teachers, educational institutions, and the government to assess the quality of open educational content. This way, it becomes easier for stakeholders to determine the level of investment required to optimize the overall quality of their educational content. It is one of the most efficient ways for educational institutions to find ways that will help them fulfil the nation-specific accreditation requirements.

How can LMS Software Enhance Student Learning Experience?

Why Implement Open Education Resource (OER)?

Now that you’ve understood the aims of OER, let’s check out the need for implementing open educational resources in your educational institution -

Increase Content Capacity

The OER copyright regulations help educational institutions to create, use, modify, and share OER content. This is effective in learning the best way to use and apply open copyright licenses within the national and international copyright regulations.

Develop Supportive Policies

The OER regulations encourages educational institutions and the government to frame more OER-friendly policies that support public licensing of learning materials. This regulatory framework helps develop policies that promote creating, using and distributing OER materials to ensure high-quality, inclusive and consistent learning for all.

Inclusive Access To Education

Adopting OER policies also helps educational institutions ensure equitable, inclusive and effective access to open learning resources by using relevant technologies. This is another way to ensure that quality education is provided to all, irrespective of their nationality, ethnicity, or financial status all over the world.

Promote Sustainable Education

The OER policy encourages governments and educational institutions to adopt educational policies that help nurture creation of sustainable OER-centered educational methods. This includes creating and developing a sustainable model of OER education at a regional, national and global level. It also involves planning, testing and implementing sustainable methods of OER-based education.

What Are The Advantages Of Using Open Educational Resources (OER)?

There are several major advantages of implementing OER-centric pedagogy in schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions.

Here are the significant advantages for teachers, students, and educational institutions when they choose to shift learning from traditional to OER-centric format -

Increases Equitable Access To Education

Open educational resource (OER) format increases equity in learning through several ways. For instance, implementation of OER in schools helps teachers to personalize education according to the specific needs of individual students. It also helps to customize the teaching method and material to be more effective in achieving outcome-based educational goals.

The OER technology also supports competency-based education by providing multiple effective ways to teach skills. This is more efficient for teachers to help students identify their strengths and develop their skills successfully. Besides this, OER materials are available for students of all ages, which makes them crucial for schools, colleges and universities to ensure equitable access to education for every student.

Ensures Content Quality & Relevancy

OER materials are created and formatted to be shared online easily. This also makes it easier to update OER content faster than conventional printed textbooks. It makes OER significantly better than traditional educational materials, as the former is more flexible while the latter is static. This is also helpful in streamlining educational content and its delivery.

Empower Teachers & Students

Thanks to the flexibility of OER materials teachers can easily find new high-quality educational material. It also allows teachers to create new OER content which is aligned with their specific teaching style. This way, OER empowers teachers to supplement their teaching methods with more effective methods.

For students, OER materials are ideal supplement to conventional textbooks and curriculum. They can easily access relevant educational materials from around the world, and ensure better learning and faster academic progress.

Efficient Cost-Saving Solution

Open educational resources also help teachers, students, parents and educational institutions to cut costs significantly. Most of the open-source learning materials are available for free, while the remaining can be bought and accessed for a minimal cost. This allows educational institutions and students to significantly avoid paying the costs related to purchasing printed educational materials. These savings can instead be diverted to improving teaching and learning equipment and tools.


Open educational resources (OER) are openly available cost-free learning materials in various formats that are meant for free use by the public. These learning materials can be easily accessed, modified, used and shared by users as the content comes under open copyright laws. Using OER materials is an excellent way for teachers and educational institutions to ensure equitable education, and free access to quality course materials for students.

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Gaurav Somani Author :

Gaurav Somani,

Academic Consultant

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